We have a rich tradition of music at First United where our choirs, musicians, and congregation join in worshiping and communicating the presence of God. Ensembles of church members, friends, and guest musicians often provide special music, from woodwind quintets to bluegrass bands to jazz trios.
Our volunteer choir provides musical leadership for most of the services throughout the church’s program year (September through early June). We sing a wide range of musical styles and have singers with a variety of abilities and backgrounds — new members are always welcome! Rehearsals are Wednesday evenings from 7-8:30 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 10 a.m. before worship. Contact Bill Chin (email@example.com), 708-386-5215 (ext 108).
Handbells date to the 1800s and earlier, when small bells were used to practice the “method” for the large bells in the church belfry. First United has a history of bell choirs going back more than 35 years, and we use the instruments several times a year during worship. We have five octaves of Malmark handbells and two octaves of Malmark handchimes. Sometimes children use the handchimes to accompany an anthem in Sunday worship, first practicing in Sunday school classes. Minimal musical experience is needed for handbells, just a basic knowledge of reading music, good rhythm, and counting skills! There are typically four or five rehearsals before a Sunday performance, usually 6-7 p.m. on Wednesdays. Contact Michael Surratt (firstname.lastname@example.org), 630-209-0149.
We have lots of opportunities for you to share your musical talents. String players, brass players, woodwind players, guitarists, keyboard players, drummers and other percussionists — in fact, people who play pretty much any and all instruments — can find a place in our worship plans at some time or another during the church year. Whether you like to play in a large or a small group or have some solo material you can share, we would be glad to welcome you into our music family. Contact Bill Chin (email@example.com), 708-386-5215 (ext. 108).
First United’s sanctuary organ is a four-manual, 88-rank Casavant built in 1982, the company’s opus 3544. This organ replaced an E.M. Skinner four-manual instrument, opus 274, that was commissioned when the current sanctuary was built in 1917 and finished in 1918. It was the largest church organ in the Chicago area at the time of its installation. The chapel houses a two-manual, five-rank Reuter unit organ. A complete stop list and more photographs of First United’s Casavant organ may be found in the book Pipe Organs of Chicago, Vol. 1, by Stephen J. Schnurr Jr. and Dennis E. Northway (pipeorgansofchicago.com), or by contacting First United’s organist, Michael Surratt (firstname.lastname@example.org), 630-209-0149.
Music At First
Music At First presents concerts to open the doors of the church to the greater community. We offer a “Sing We Joyous” concert each December with choirs, small singing ensembles, and dancers, always including First United’s creative new take on “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” There are vocal and instrumental concerts throughout the year and three Summer Sings, when audience members are welcome to serve as the choir. We invite you to subscribe to our E-newsletter for concert event updates. You also may email email@example.com or leave us a message at 708-386-5215 (ext. 108).
Check back when we have more details about these upcoming Music At First concerts for beautiful music in a glorious setting:
Northern Light: The Oriana Singers and City Voices sing Baltic composers, Feb. 1 and 2. The Oriana Singers (celebrating their 40th Anniversary season) and City Voices, both under the direction of Bill Chin, sing “Northern Light,” a concert of choral music by composers from the Baltic countries. The music ranges from accessible and inventive pieces by Latvia’s Eriks Esenvalds (Only in Sleep; Long Road) to the majestic O Crux of Norway’s Knut Nystedt. There is also music by classical superstar Arvo Pärt (Magnificat) and his fellow Estonian, Urmas Sisask.
The Oriana Singers have been impressing audiences with their a cappella singing in the Chicago area, across the country, and in Europe over the past 40 years. Their repertoire includes everything from Renaissance madrigals to songs by Smash Mouth and Imogen Heap. City Voices is a community chorus celebrating its tenth season in Oak Park and the Chicago area. This concert continues a long tradition of collaborating with the Oriana Singers; past projects include music from the Monteverdi Vespers, a recent CD release with Chicago Gargoyle Brass, and the annual “Sing We Joyous” holiday concerts in Oak Park.
There will be two concerts. The first is 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at St. Josaphat Parish, 2311 N. Southport, Chicago. The second is 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 2, at First United. Admission is $20 for adults and $15 for seniors. Students 18 and younger will be admitted free. Advance tickets are available through Brown Paper Tickets at this link.
Gargoyle Brass Ensemble: April (date to be determined).
Apollo Chorus, May 3, 3 p.m.
Chicago Summer Sings, June 2, 9, and 16, 7 p.m.