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The beautiful soul of a city, a university and a brand new music festival

If the heart of last week’s Mile of Music Festival lay in its people — pounding nervously in its volunteers, beating coolly in its artists and thumping happily in its attendees — the soul stood stately, an anchor on the mile’s east end.

The Lawrence Memorial Chapel not only provided an elegant venue for the main stage concerts, it also acted as a musical matrix through which some of the event’s most talented performers passed.

In fact, at least three of the 10 headline stage performers at one time called the Memorial Chapel home. Event ambassador Cory Chisel, Mel Flannery and Hillary Reynolds all spent lucky hours of their youth on stage in the acoustically blessed chapel.

Built in 1918 for Lawrence University and the center for the school’s acclaimed music conservatory, the chapel has both hosted and nurtured hundreds of talented musicians through the years.

We have seen speakers — favorites include Lech Walesa, Maya Angelou and Frank McCourt –choirs, bands and musicians in the take-all-comers chapel.

Both our boys were lucky enough to participate in the Appleton Boychoir, and the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols became a holiday tradition made even more sacred and meaningful inside the beautiful white brick building.

If you have the opportunity to attend an event at the Lawrence Memorial Chapel, hustle on down and grab a seat. If you’re even luckier, and get the chance to perform on that stage against the stunning backdrop of a magnificent 41-stop mechanical organ, take a moment to consider your space and all of the unbelievably talented people who have gone before you.

Its history, architecture, acoustics and, thank goodness, newly upholstered seats make the Memorial Chapel the perfect setting for almost any performer lucky enough to step on its stage.

Such a beautiful chapel in the heart of downtown Appleton. I like to think of all the talented voices that have passed through its doors.

Such a beautiful chapel in the heart of downtown Appleton. I like to think of all the talented voices that have passed through its doors.

Built in 1918. Interesting fact: Lawrence University is older than Appleton.

Built in 1918. Interesting fact: Lawrence University is older than Appleton.

A mile of Mile of Music fans lined up outside the chapel ahead of Friday night's headliner concert with Cory Chisel, Adriel Denae, Norah Jones, The Candles and the Hillary Reynolds Band.

A mile of Mile of Music fans lined up outside the chapel ahead of Friday night’s headliner concert with Cory Chisel, Adriel Denae, Norah Jones, The Candles and the Hillary Reynolds Band.

I popped in yesterday to see what the view looked like from on the stage. Beautiful.

I popped in yesterday to see what the view looked like from on the stage. Beautiful.

Cory Chisel, Adriel Denae and gang in front of the majestic Memorial Chapel organ.

Cory Chisel, Adriel Denae and the Sunday afternoon Last Song performers in front of the majestic Memorial Chapel organ. Cory performed in the chapel as a little boy in the Appleton Boychoir.

Hillary Reynolds spent many hours on stage during Appleton Girl Choir and Appleton North Choir concerts.

Hillary Reynolds spent many hours on stage during Appleton Girl Choir and Appleton North Choir concerts.

The paparazzi, the musicians, the crowds and above it all, a serene organ that has seen it all.

The paparazzi, the musicians, the crowds and above it all, a serene organ that has seen it all before.

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Posted on August 16, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

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