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By M.E. Megan Hicks / November 30, 12:00 AM
Boston Accent: New Year, New Music

Mark A. Emery inspires the masses at St. Anthony Shrine with The Arch Street Band

Photo: Derek Kouyoumjian


“What happens with a group that is excited to play together is special, and we’ve found that recipe,” says leader of The Arch Street Band Mark A. Emery. The first to be added to the music program when the band initiative started, Emery has served as music director at St. Anthony Shrine for the last four years of his 18-year involvement. The band, named after the physical address of St. Anthony Shrine on Arch Street, includes six decorated and musically diverse members who also perform with the Boston Pops, Boston Ballet, Boston Symphony and at other local music venues. “We are all busy as performers and teachers,” says Emery. “Within the group, we have teaching faculty from Tufts University, Worcester Polytech, Concord Academy, Berklee, Berklee City Music, Boston Arts Academy and the Ailey School in New York.”

With three albums out already, The Arch Street Band is planning to release two additional albums at the start of the new year which serve as the beginning of a new series. TASB LiveSessions: Music recorded live on Arch Street consists of two volumes: volume 1, “New Psalms and Old Blues” and volume 2, “Homiletic Echoes: Songs inspired by Franciscan preaching.” “The series is framed around our original music, which seems to develop naturally from observing what goes on at the Shrine each week,” Emery says. He describes the band’s new work as “much less produced than past recordings, and not focused on perfection as much. It’s music made for this community because something special is going on here.” Emery adds that “all proceeds will go directly to programs like the Franciscan Food Center and Bread on the Common.”

Emery hopes listeners of The Arch Street Band’s new series hear the same message that he does—from its music and the Shrine—which is that, “You are welcome here just as you are. Come on in. You might notice folks doing simple stuff to help others. You’re welcome to be a part of giving or receiving that help. Or just hang—that’s okay, too. You are not alone.” Emery says that the band is honored to be the house band for St. Anthony Shrine and the Franciscan friars in Downtown Boston. For him, “this is real—it is church that has nothing to do with walls, robes or finery.

St. Anthony Shrine 

100 Arch St., 617-542-6440, stanthonyshrine.org

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