Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Shawnee is planning its first drive-in concert series this fall. The first performance is slated for this Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The performers’ lineup of songs center around traditional Americana and patriotic-themed music as a tribute, organizers say, to the victims of the attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C., and the downing of United Airlines Flight 93 in Pennsylvania, on Sept. 11, 2001.
“My first reaction was maybe we shouldn’t do a concert that night; it seemed like, to me, it’s a sacred date, and I don’t want to disturb it with a concert,” said Raffaele Cipriano, an Italian musician who serves as Good Shepherd’s music director.
“But then, the musicians, they told me don’t worry about it, we know how to handle that,” he said. “We’ll do it meaningfully for that night in a way that will both bring out the memory for the date and prayer for that, and offer patriotic music.”
A series of drive-in concerts
Kathy Johnston, a musician who sings and plays guitar and clarinet for Good Shepherd, said gathering together and performing during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is special.
“It’s good to be a part of our church family again,” she said. “We draw so much strength from one another. And having us all together in this special time comforts us.”
Musicians at Good Shepherd gathered at a physical distance earlier this year and performed another livestreamed concert in the spring.
The remaining concerts this year will feature a variety of upbeat, pop and modern musical selections with fall themes. The concert series dates include:
- Friday, Sept. 11
- Friday, Sept. 18
- Friday, Sept. 25
- Sunday, Oct. 4
Safety precautions in place
Good Shepherd will accommodate 80 vehicles that can park spaced out in the parking lot to the east of the church. Attendees can listen from their vehicles by tuning into the performances through an FM radio station. Each vehicle will have an empty adjacent parking space for attendees to set up camp chairs and sit outside of their vehicles.
The drive-in nature of the outdoor concert allows the musicians, who are members of the church, and audience members to maintain a safe social distance during the health risks of large gatherings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The musicians and vocalists will also perform spaced apart on the lawn.
Cipriano said the dates of the outdoor concerts could change last minute due to inclement weather.
“Music helps us to reach people,” he said. “I always hope that people sing from home when we play at Mass. When we play at this concert, I hope that people will sing from their car and will sing from home. It’s going to build community and give people an alternative evening”
The concerts will also be livestreamed on the church’s Facebook page. More details about the concerts are available on social media.