Route 66 News

Meditations with music

Here’s a remarkable story in the Los Angeles Times about the Church of Beethoven, which is less than a block off an old alignment of Route 66 in Albuquerque and has its beginnings on the Mother Road.

The whole thing is worth reading, but this excerpt captures the place’s purpose well enough:

It’s not really a church, of course, but it’s not quite a standard concert series either. Its intent, Wurman said, is part entertainment, part spiritual awakening.

Wurman, 51, was a cellist with the New Mexico Symphony Orchestra when, two years ago, he played a church gig that inspired him. It wasn’t the theology he liked — Wurman isn’t religious. It was the ecstasy of the music, and the warmth of the parishioners enjoying it together.

He had an idea: “How about a church that has music as its principal element, rather than as an afterthought?”

He recruited other musicians from the symphony, and together, in an abandoned gas station off old Route 66, they began playing concerts each Sunday.

More and more people started coming (“I just leave here feeling really soul-satisfied,” explained one regular, Veronica Reed, 68, who said it was a treat to see symphony members perform up close), and after a couple of years, the concert series outgrew the space.

The story reminds me of the old quotation: “God gave us music that we might pray without words.” And Beethoven reportedly said: “I despise a world which does not feel that music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.”

The Church of Beethoven meets at 10:30 a.m. each Sunday at 1715 Fifth St. in Albuquerque, just a short walk from the Fourth Street alignment of Route 66.

The sad part is that founder Felix Wurman died on Saturday, just a few hours after the Times’ article was published. However, Wurman’s colleagues have made it clear they will continue the tradition that he started.


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