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 (firstname.lastname@example.org), 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 (email@example.com), 630-209-0149.
We hope to restart the children’s choir. It will be open to young singers from 3rd though 8th grades, and we’d like the choir to sing in worship four times during the church year. Rehearsals will be on Sundays immediately after worship and last half an hour, starting in October. This is a way for young people to make great music and great friends in a low-stress environment. Our church school children’s classes also occasionally sing in worship. Contact Bill Chin (firstname.lastname@example.org), 708-386-5215 (ext. 108).
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).
Music At First Winter and Spring 2019 Concert Schedule
Music At First House Concerts. NEW! Music At First is holding three unique concerts in three Oak Park homes, featuring an intimate setting, refreshments, and fantastic musicians, including Julian Chin’s jazz and the Oriana Singers. Dates are Thursday, January 17; Tuesday, February 5; and Tuesday, February 12. All concerts will be at 7:30 p.m., and seating will be limited.
The Book of Love, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 9. The Oriana Singers will offer an early Valentine’s Day program back at First United. The a cappella group, directed by founder Bill Chin, will explore love in all of its incarnations, with no limits to style or time period.
City Voices in Concert, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 16. Oak Park’s innovative community chorus will offer a program of psalms for chorus and instruments.
Gargoyle Brass and Organ Ensemble, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3. Gargoyle Brass, in their novel chamber ensemble configuration of brass quintet and pipe organ, return to perform new works and arrangements of classical favorites. They will bring their brass instruments and their innovative programming to First United. But they will use First United’s beautiful Casavant organ.
Summer Sings 2019: Save the dates of three Tuesdays in June: June 4, 11, and 18, all at 7 p.m. The annual series of do-it-yourself choral works will return to the refurbished First United Sanctuary after a summer off.