UPPER WEST SIDE — A new annual concert series that grew out of a gift from a local mother who was tragically killed a year ago will kick off this Saturday night at her local church.
The concert series will honor Jean Chambers, 61, who was killed July 10 last year by an SUV driver who hit her on West End Avenue at West 95th Street. She had lived in the neighborhood, where she and her husband raised their daughter, for more than 30 years.
Along with her appreciation of Riverside Park and the friendliness of the Upper West Side, Chambers also loved St. Michael's Episcopal Church, of which she was a member for 19 years, said her husband John Chambers.
She named St. Michael's as a beneficiary in her will, and her husband worked with church leaders to find a fitting way to memorialize her and help the church.
"She loved the music... and this is a good way to let people know about the church," Chambers explained of the idea behind the concert series.
The annual event will feature a different visiting organist each year, as a way to showcase St. Michael's large German-Baroque organ, he said.
Chambers' gift allows the series to host one performer each year for at least 30 years, said St. Michael's director of music John Cantrell.
"My personal feeling is that the series at St. Michael’s should not only bring in those who’ve held long-established and highly-visible careers, but also introduce artists who have gained attention on a global scale, but perhaps have yet had the opportunity to perform in New York," he said.
Along with well-known performers, Cantrell has "the hope of developing the series to accommodate numerous up-and-coming student performers," he added.
The series kicks off Saturday, July 18, at 7 p.m. with a performance by Dr. Christian Vorbeck, an organist at the University of Dortmund in Germany.
Vorbeck is "well-established" but has not yet performed in New York City, Cantrell said.
His performance will include works by Handel, Mozart, Bach and Wagner, as well as original works, he said.
As a longtime resident, Jean "put down roots," her husband said. Her myriad connections — to fellow dog owners, business owners, neighbors and fellow parents — show that "New York is not an anonymous city...[but] really kind of like a small town," he added.
Admission to the concert at 225 W. 99th St. is $20.