AUBURN — The New England Festival of Praise, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, is scheduled for 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 1, at Court Street Baptist Church.

Sponsored by The Mark Thallander Foundation, it will feature former Crystal Cathedral organist Mark Thallander and renowned pianist, vocalist and composer Ken Medema.

Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul organist Scott Vaillancourt, host music minister Kathleen Haley, the Prince of Peace Handbell Choir, and a choir comprised of Maine and New Hampshire singers also will highlight the concert.

Thallander, organist at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, for 18 years, lost his left arm as a result of an automobile accident on the Maine Turnpike while vacationing in 2003. He has masterfully rearranged organ music so he can perform it exceptionally professionally with his two feet and right arm. 

Medema, a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in music therapy, has been described as “one of the most creative and authentic artists performing today.” Blind since birth, he has enthralled music lovers in congregations and at school campuses, corporate conventions, youth gatherings and other venues in more than 15 countries on four continents with his keyboard and vocal abilities, improvisation skills and humor. 

Vaillancourt is a Bowdoin College graduate, and holds master’s degrees in music composition and music performance from the University of Michigan. He is music director for the Basilica, has overseen a restoration of its historic Casavant pipe organ and is a composer, arranger and teacher. 


The Handbell Choir, a dozen musicians, formed in 2013 and is dedicated to making music that is pleasing to listeners and honoring to God. They perform at mass and other liturgies several times each year.

Haley is a musical product of Edward Little High School and the University of Southern Maine who began her church music career at the Danville Union Church. Besides being immersed in the music for services at Court Street Baptist, she performs at venues such as the Sawyer Memorial in Greene, the Poland Spring Inn and Resort, All Souls Chapel at Poland Spring, and at area celebrations, weddings and funerals.

A freewill offering will be collected. The Court Street Baptist Church is at 129 Court St.

Court Street Baptist Church

Kathleen Haley

Scott Vaillancourt

Mark Thallander

Ken Medema

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