Elysian Camerata
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Since the winter of 2006 Elysian Camerata has performed four concerts a year in our own series at the Church of St. Asaph in Bala Cynwyd. We are truly blessed to have this ongoing opportunity to present new repertoire in concert in what is one of the loveliest performance spaces in the Philadelphia area.

The history of the Church of St. Asaph spans over 125 years. Named for a Welsh saint (Asaph, c. 570 AD), the Church was built on land deeded by William Penn in 1683 to John Roberts who immigrated to the United States from northern Wales. He settled in the area west of Philadelphia known as the Welsh Tract, reflecting the origin of the area's first settlers. This area was later to become known as Bala Cynwyd.

Two hundred-plus years later, in the fall of 1887, six residents of the evolving Bala Cynwyd community met at the home of George B. Roberts with the intent of applying for the charter of what was to become the Church of St. Asaph. These residents became the church’s founding vestry. Roberts, the president of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was the sixth generation to live at the Roberts’s family estate and farm named Pencoyd. He donated land from his estate on which to build the church.

On Jan. 30, 1888 the church vestry of St. Asaph’s Church on Conshohocken State Road in Bala Cynwyd approved the architectural plans submitted by Theophilus Parsons Chandler Jr., a leading architect of his day who specialized in church designs both on the Main Line and in Philadelphia. There has been speculation that Chandler modeled St. Asaph’s after its namesake cathedral in Wales, with the distinctive square tower being a signature feature in both churches. Groundbreaking was delayed by the infamous blizzard of March 1888, however the cornerstone was laid on May 8, 1888, and the Victorian Gothic church held its first service on March 24, 1889. The money collected at this service was sent to the victims of the recent Johnstown flood, beginning a history of outreach that continues to the present day.

 

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