`Jazz Psalms Experience' coming to Highlands Ranch

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Chuck Marohnic — nationally recognized teacher, educator, pianist, director, composer and arranger — spent considerable time meditating on the Psalms of the Bible.

James Ramsey, director of music and arts ministries at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, said the Psalms were originally written as musical compositions — to be sung rather than read.

“They were sung and accompanied by various musical instruments within the context of Hebrew worship over 3,000 years ago,” Ramsey said.

Marohnic's work has led to “The Jazz Psalms Experience,” to be performed at 3 p.m. Nov. 10 at St. Luke's featuring Marohnic, the church's adult, youth and children's choirs, the Ministers of Music jazz band and St. Luke's Youth Jazz Orchestra. Vocalist Carol Rogers, an international performer, will be featured.

More than 75 original compositions are completed and the composer aims to complete all 150 Psalms in the next two to three years. Each is being recorded by Music Serving the Word Ministries, a national organization that makes its new music available to church musicians and worship teams seeking new ways to present ancient Scriptures, Ramsey said.

Marohnic is quoted: “I actually began to hear the words of the Psalms as music. I proceeded to write down the music I had heard and thus began the project.”

Ramsey, who has produced a variety of musical experiences at St. Luke's to interpret spiritual teachings, said “the audience attending the `Jazz Psalms Experience' will hear an entirely fresh interpretation of the Psalms, delivered via the language of modern music, influenced by jazz, rock, funk, R&B and world music …”

Also planned: a high school holiday festival in December with more than 200 students in the new Performing Arts Academy, which will go year-round in 2014.