Miracle On Christopher Street: Abandoned Church Finds New Life, Brings Together Hundreds Of New York Residents
George Capsis, publisher of WestView News, is pleased to announce that Saturday, December 23rd at 7:30PM will be the second night of the At St. Veronica's free concert series! Entitled "Christmas with Shepherds", this free holiday concert will feature the beloved works of Telemann, Corelli and Vivaldi performed by New York Baroque Incorporated, orchestra recently hailed earlier this year by the New York Times, as "truly excellent" and "studded with stars in the making".
After over four hundred New York residents turned out for the inaugural concert on November 25th, Capsis is convinced that he's on to something. In fact, he hopes that this project will become a model and inspiration of what to do with the increasing number of abandoned churches throughout the nation. These beautiful buildings, without potential for people to gather, socialize and unify, are locked and boarded up, shells of a glorious time lost and forgotten.
The concert on December 23rd will be held at the Church of Saint Veronica at 149 Christopher Street, which closed its doors in the summer of 2017 because of poor attendance. Luckily, the city of New York has deemed that the 130 year-old Victorian Gothic Revival architecture is sufficiently noteworthy as to deserve Landmark status. This means that the church's exterior cannot be changed. The interior, however, with its stunning 75-foot marble-lined dome ceiling, and the AIDs memorial up in the balcony, could be tragically done away with if a developer bought the property.
George Capsis, a living Village landmark himself, will turn 90 years old on December 20th. His passion and commitment to keeping the church relevant is undying. He still finds the wherewithal to publish twelve thousand copies of WestView News, a free monthly newspaper distributed locally, bringing together artists, writers, financial types and the entire community as a whole. Many believe that through his efforts, Capsis is creating community.
An executive at IBM for several years, Capsis is an avid classical music lover and a wisely shrewd businessman. In the 1970's, he created a partnership with classical music conductor Michael Feldman and together they founded the world-renowned Orchestra of St. Luke's, which last year toured over 80 countries. Capsis was instrumental in landing Con Edison as a major sponsor for the orchestra, a relationship that survives to this day. Feldman, hearing of his collaborator's visionary efforts, came out of retirement to lead the 25-piece orchestra for the first concert at St Veronica's Church in November.
Capsis, the soon to be nonagenarian, shares, "While the project picks up momentum, the first few concerts will be free to all. However this concert series will always be free to seniors." As society at large is getting older, thanks to developments in medicine, we are faced with a subsection of the population that live in rent-controlled apartments and that rely on social security checks in order to survive. In the West Village, where you are lucky if you can find a one-bedroom apartment for under $3,500 a month, the isolation that all too often accompanies aging is exaggerated. Sadly, because of the history of the Village, this elderly population is made up of painters, musicians, theater folk and ageless trendsetters - people whose lives were dedicated to forging connections and bringing people together.
Saint Veronica (the namesake of the closed church) was not an extraordinary woman. Her claim to sainthood was simply this: she saw a need, and she did what she could to help. Lumbering through the streets of Jerusalem, back bent under the weight of a cross he was forced to carry blood and sweat dripping from his face, a man gratefully accepted Veronica's veil as a handkerchief.
"The tears streaming down his face," adds George Capsis. "She wiped away his tears."
About At St. Veronica's Concert: The At St. Veronica's concert series is a grassroots project which has been given the "enthusiastic support" of a representative of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York. It is on a preliminary trial basis. The hope is that the Church of Saint Veronica, which locked its doors due to poor attendance, will become a permanent concert hall providing concerts "that will always be free to seniors." In order to make this dream a reality, we need your help! Donations are much appreciated. However, your attendance is the most valuable gift you can provide. Learn more at: www.AtStVeronicas.org
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