The Karcher Concert Series is named in honor of benefactors Richard and Garland Karcher, longtime parishioners of Saint Wendelin and supporters of the Arts. Richard and Garland were highly involved in the music programs at Saint Wendelin School and Saint Wendelin Parish. It was through their commitment and dedication to the arts, and especially music education, that the series is able to be offered to the Fostoria and surrounding communities. Richard and Garland passed away within a month of each other in 2014.
Richard and Garland, in celebration of their 50th wedding anniversary in 1999, established the Karcher Music Scholarship Fund for juniors and seniors at Saint Wendelin High School. This Scholarship fund awarded scholarships to those students who were involved in the music program, specifically the choral and band ensembles, at Saint Wendelin High School. Applicants were supposed to explain how being involved in the music program changed their lives for the better and how they planned to continue in the Performing Arts in their post-baccalaureate years. Juniors were able to apply the scholarship toward their senior year tuition and seniors were able to apply it to their college tuition. Just as Richard and Garland had done, the recipients of the scholarships were encouraged to remain involved the Arts throughout their lives. From 1999-2017, twenty-seven scholarships were awarded to students.
Following the closure of the high school in 2017, Richard and Garland's son, Richard "Dick" Karcher, repurposed the fund as the Karcher Music Endowment Fund which would support “music programming and enrichment for the overall benefit of Saint Wendelin Parish.” The fund was initially set up to support the biennial Toledo Symphony Concert. In 2018, Anthony Gallina, the Pastoral Associate for Worship, approached Dick with the idea of beginning a series supported by the fund and named in honor of his parents. With the beautifully acoustic space that the church offers, having regular concerts would be an absolute gem for the community. Part of the vision of the series was that because the Arts are integral to society and the good of humanity, all should be able to enjoy the music free of charge (with the exception of the Toledo Symphony concert). Each season would be supported by donors to offset the cost of the performers and to ensure the Fund's longevity. Another part of the vision was to showcase as much local talent as possible. With the help work of Jeannette Lee, Fr. Todd Dominique, Anthony Gallina, and Richard Karcher, the series was made a reality.
In conjuction with the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the current Saint Wendelin Church, the inaugural season of the Karcher Concert Series was held 2018-2019. The season boasted a total of seven concerts. The Toledo Sympony, under the direction of Nadège Foofat, kicked off the series in October with an amazing concert comprised of all-American music. November's concert was Rising Dawn, a praise and worship group whose roots were at Saint Wendelin. December 18, 2018 was the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the church and a splendid Mass was celebrated in honor of the anniversary. In the first week of January, the Parish Choir held a concert and sing-a-long for the Feast of Epiphany. Early February saw Dr. Kevin Vaughn, a professor of organ from Notre Dame, give a concert on the fantastic Holtkamp pipe organ. In March, the staff's own Anthony Gallina who was a voice major in college, gave a recital of secular and sacred works. Holy Week in April was an opportunity for a prayerful concert from the Parish Choir, reflecting on the Passion of the Lord. The inaugural series closed in May of 2019 with Patrick Sulken, a son of the parish, who is a professional pianist and conductor on Broadway.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2019-2020 season was cut short following concerts by BGSU Chamber Ensembles, Joshua & Sophia Kinn, and the biennial Toledo Symphony Christmas Concert. Now in the fall of 2021, we are ready to begin the third season and continue the legacy of the Karchers. Fr. Todd Dominique's words in the inaugural concert program ring true today as much as they did then:
We are committed to sharing the full range of music's power in the coming years - music that promises to move the soul, with a diverse array of experiences tailored to our specific concert opportunities. We begin anew history of music appreciation not only for our Parish, but for the wider community of Fostoria and our surrounding areas. There is so much to hear, see, and experience with our Karcher Concert Series this year and the years ahead. Every concert promises a new discovery, a fresh perspective, a spiritual renewal. Thank you for being part of our musical journey as we affirm the power with which music moves the soul...a true gift from God!