On Thursday, April 4, a gala event was held at St. Philip’s — a concert, “Letter from Home: Aaron Copland’s America,” featuring the music of Aaron Copland, preceded by a lavish reception and online art auction. The concert was offered in memory of beloved parishioner William Carter Cutlip. The evening was organized by co-chairs Claude Deniz and Kevin Justus, with a host of hard-working volunteers.
The multi-media concert, written and conceived by Kevin Justus, featured works by Aaron Copland from the period 1939-1954, including “Old American Songs” and “Twelve Poems of Emily Dickinson,” compositions for organ, violin, viola, and piano, and extensive excerpts from film scores. The cast of performers included talented Tucson musicians Mary Paul, Larry Alexander, Woosug Kang, Benjamin Nisbet, and Yvonne Creanga, among others, and actors David Alexander Johnston and Elizabeth Young as narrators. In addition, former Tucson favorite mezzo-soprano Korby Myrick and her pianist husband Richard Hereld returned to Tucson for the concert. The Zephyrus Wind Quintet and the Bella Carità Chamber Orchestra under the direction of Dr. Thomas Cockrell were also featured.
Bill Cutlip and his wife, Saucy, came to St. Philip’s in the early 2000s, originally as winter members. One of their first projects was to organize a “Snowbird” gathering (don’t bother thinking of a euphemism, Bill said, we know who we are) at their home. Bill was passionate about mentoring, in his professional, parish, and personal life. Once they became year-round members, he especially loved to serve as Sub-Deacon at the Christmas Eve 4 p.m. “holy chaos” service. Bill was St. Philip’s first Commissioner for Evangelism, which he defined as “true hospitality.” He firmly believed that any church is only as strong as its programs for children and youth, and thus the proceeds of the concert were designated for St. Philip’s children and youth ministries.
In May, the organizing committee announced that this gala event had raised $11,000. The remarkable success of the endeavor was due in part to the generosity of many people whose donations covered the operating costs for the concert and reception, to the many hours volunteered by committee members and helpers, and to the support of parishioners and other patrons. The committee voted to distribute $4,000 to St. Philip’s youth ministries (Rite 13, J2A, and SPY); $4,000 to Children and Family Ministries (Church School and other activities); $2,000 to the After-School Music Program; and $1,000 to the St. Nicholas Choir.
St. Philip’s Rector, the Rev. Canon John E. Kitagawa, hailed the concert as “a wonderful example of the creative, outside-the-box thinking that helps support ministries in nontraditional ways.” Organizer Claude Deniz was especially pleased that the event brought so many people together, contributing their talents and energies to support a common cause.