A friend of music at First Congregational Church is someone like you!

403 South Jefferson Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48607



Monday, April 30, 2012

First Congregational Church to Host Scholarship Auditions on May 6

Auditions for the 2012 Kent S. Dennis Memorial Scholarship will take place beginning at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 6.  This scholarship is an outreach of the Saginaw Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) that enriches the musical education opportunities of present and future church or synagogue organists. 

Awards totaling $500-750 will be given for beginning study or further study of the organ.  Scholarships will be based solely on merit, and will be paid directly to the college or university or to an approved instructor on behalf of the student.  If, in the opinion of the committee, no suitable candidate is eligible, the scholarship may not be awarded. The amount of each award will be determined at the discretion of the judges.

The public is welcome to attend the event.

The auditions will take place on the congregation’s chapel organ, Aeolian Skinner Organ Co, Op. 1327. 

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Spring Hymn Sing

The annual hymn sing takes place next Saturday, May 5, as summarized by MLive and an earlier post (April 12).  Free of charge, the sing commences with the gathering of collaborating choirs at 10:00 a.m.; the general public will be welcomed to the recording portion of the event, at which all people join in singing, at 11:30 a.m.   


10:00-10:35 a.m.                     
Participants from collaborating choirs will arrive during this time, receive music, and enjoy fellowship.    

10:30-11:15 a.m.                     
Guests will vocalize, be seated accordingly, and rehearse.
11:15-11:30 a.m.                     
11:30-12:45 p.m.                     
Welcome to all guests.  Recording will begin.
12:45 p.m.                               

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

For the Children - May 20, 3:00 p.m.

For the Children 2012, a program that celebrates the creative contributions and talents of young persons in the community and benefits the mission of the CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region, will take place in the in the historic sanctuary of First Congregational Church on May 20 at 3:00 p.m.  Join several young performers offering music and drama including of the Heritage High School String Ensemble, Ivy Holland, David Brown, Travis Coughran, Lauren Fischer, Annie Kidder, Angela Noah, and Rev. Dr. Todd Farley.  The event is free and open to the public.  Following the program For the Children, members of the Women’s Fellowship and Youth and Family Ministries, First Congregational Church, and friends of CAN Council Great Lakes Bay Region, will serve a dessert reception in Bradley House.  There, John and Katrina Vowell, representing the local organization Major Chords for Minors, will also provide hospitality and a reception table at which children will have the chance to see, hear, and play musical instruments.

Zarin-taj Will Perform the Jazz on Jefferson Closing Concert

Zarin-taj – Jazz Singer / Entertainer will perform the Jazz on Jefferson closing concert on Wednesday, June 6, at 8:00 p.m., at First Congregational Church.  The performance will begin at 8:00 p.m. and is free and open to the public.  She will team with several jazz musicians from the Midwest including Arlene McDaniel (piano), Eugene Rebeck (bass), Jim Cooper (vibraphone), Steve Rodriguez (saxophone), and Ian LeVine (percussion).

Shirlene (Zarin-taj) Brown began her career as a radio announcer for Public Radio WLGI (90.97 FM) in Hemingway, South Carolina, and has received a Bachelor of Arts degree in music (Saginaw Valley State University).  A professional, touring vocal artist, Zarin-taj (“Crown of Gold”) has collaborated with ensembles and pianists in varied musical styles in Europe, Asia, and the United States of America.  Brown has performed with renowned jazz cellist Karen Patterson of New York City, the Motor City Samba of Detroit, and the Michigan Arts International Ensemble directed by Dr. Michael Naylor of Ann Arbor, Michigan.   

Brown’s participation with regional jazz combos includes the following collaborations: Jazz Nova Ensemble directed by Tony Rongo of Bay City, Michigan; Mainstreet of Midland, Michigan; Level 5 of Flint, Michigan; and also the Jazz combo Swing Shift under the direction of Kenneth Duquaine, Flint, Michigan.  Brown is featured on several CD releases including John Ebata & Friends (1997), Opus #3 (2001), and her latest release, Simple Treasures (2007).  She presently serves as the jazz singer / entertainer at Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where she performs regularly at the Water Lily Lounge.

First held in 2004, Jazz on Jefferson is a collaborative event sponsored by the members of the South Jefferson Avenue Events and Marketing Committee. Member organizations include the Castle Museum of Saginaw County History, Hoyt Public Library, Saginaw Choral Society, First Congregational Church, Neighborhood Renewal Services of Saginaw, Inc., Team One Credit Union, Kingdom Life Ministries, the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, and South Jefferson Avenue residents. The evening marks the diversity, heritage, and vibrancy of these organizations and displays the architectural treasures of South Jefferson Avenue. June 5, 2013, is tentatively marked as the tenth anniversary celebration of Jazz on Jefferson.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

A Tour of Skinner's Op. 751 - THOR*tography

Ernest M. Skinner's contributions to pipe organ construction are well documented thanks to several archives now preserved by the Organ Historical Society and printed biographies (including the definitive The Life and Work of Ernest M. Skinner by Holden).  His instruments are imprinted/marked with clear labels - identification numbers, said differently - and built with a systematic approach.  

This excellence is visible even today thanks to the photographic expertise of Thor Rasmussen (THOR*tography), whose April 4 visit to the organ chamber of First Congregational Church is recalled artistically in the following highlights.  Skinner "details" are visible in photographic evidence compliments of the photographer, Mr. Rasmussen.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Jazz on Jefferson - Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The ninth annual celebration Jazz on Jefferson, a one-night festival hosted by the vibrant institutions of Saginaw’s historic South Jefferson Avenue between Federal and Hoyt, will take place on the evening of Wednesday, June 6, 2012.  Jazz on Jefferson’s evening’s schedule will include an array of musical performers, a classic and antique car show, a juried visual art competition, house tours, carriage rides, an architectural walking tour, craft show, dramatic presentations, and food vendors.

Jazz on Jefferson brings together arts organizations, performers, vendors, and the public to create Saginaw’s premiere summer street festival. Events begin at 5:00 p.m. and end at 8:00 p.m. with a free concert at First Congregational Church by Zarin-taj – Jazz Singer / Entertainer, and her team of jazz musicians from the Midwest including Arlene McDaniel (piano), Eugene Reveck (bass), Jim Cooper (vibraphone), Steve Rodriguez (saxophone), and Ian LeVine (percussion).

Help Revitalize the Historic Skinner Organ of First Congregational Church

E. M. Skinner Opus 751 was dedicated in 1929.  Other than routine maintenance and cleaning, the organ remained untouched for thirty years. The organ was enlarged mid-1960s during an “organ reform” movement that caused several unsympathetic changes.  Following a fire in the early 1970s that destroyed the original console and Echo chamber, a new console was built.  Mechanical problems have plagued the organ for several years resulting from the deterioration of leather, the buildup of dirt and residue, and less than sterling craftsmanship following the 1973 fire.  Although the organ at First Congregational Church can sound wonderful, there is significant leakage of air, some ranks of pipes and working parts do not operate, some notes don’t play at all or do so intermittently, some notes stick (or “cipher”), and the physically deteriorating console functions with little reliability.  

The aim of the $500,000 dollar project is to restore the organ with the highest standard of integrity, maintaining the tonal character of the 1920s, so that it will grace worship and musical outreach for the next century and rekindle First Congregational Church’s commitment to neighborhood and community renewal in Saginaw’s Cathedral District.

Donations of all sizes will make this project a reality.  Members of the First Congregational Church, Friends of Music, and other patrons from throughout the country are asked to make generous offerings to support this project, one that benefits the congregation’s worship life, outreach, benevolence, and stewardship of property. A family who chooses to sponsor the pipe organ revitalization project will be honored as the instrument patron. As an organ donor, you or your nominee can “adopt a pipe” and receive an attractive commemorative certificate signed by the Organ Committee leadership.  You will also be recorded as an organ donor in a handsomely bound record and in commemorative literature.  Major donors (over $2500) will have their names displayed on a commemorative tablet, which will be unveiled in the sanctuary when the project is complete.

For more information about becoming an organ donor or for a full-color project information brochure, please contact Nicholas E. Schmelter, Director of Music Ministries, at the church office center, (989) 754-6565.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Congregational Church to Host Hymn Sing on Saturday Morning, May 5

Members of the Chancel Choir, Friends of Music, and the Women’s Fellowship of First Congregational Church, 403 South Jefferson Street, welcome the public to the third annual spring hymn sing outreach at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, May 5.  The event is free and open to the public.

The purpose of the 2012 event is to prepare a recording of beloved hymns for members of First Congregational Church, and the community, who are specifically homebound or shut-in.  Choirs from the region will collaborate with the Chancel Choir and people present in singing familiar text-tune pairings from the Pilgrim Hymnal.  The pipe organ will provide accompaniment.  Hospitality for the event will be provided by the Women’s Fellowship and Friends of Music.  Free-will donations collected following the hymn sing will help defray the cost of preparing compact discs and gifts to shut-ins.

Participants will sing “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” (ST. ANNE), “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” (EIN FESTE BURG), “Crown Him with Many Crowns” (DIADEMATA), “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones” (LASST UNS ERFREUEN), “I Love to Tell the Story” (HANKEY), and “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (ERIE) among a dozen selections that include verses scored in four parts and descants.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

THOR*tography: Inside a Pipe Organ

THOR*tography: Inside a Pipe Organ: A few weeks ago, while photographing an organ concert, I learned about the sounds my camera makes . This week I was invited to photograph th...