The Chancel Choir is the congregation’s SATB vocal ensemble that meets throughout the academic year. Repertoire spans the centuries and includes music from choral masterworks such as Handel’s Messiah and Stanford’s Bible Songs and Six Hymns. In addition to beloved chestnuts by Bach, Goss, Sowerby, and Willan, the choir performs contemporary selections by Basler, Hampton, Walker, and others. Nicholas Schmelter, Minister of Music, has commissioned several contemporary anthems for the ensemble by Page Long, Robert Powell, Philip Rice, and other composers. The Chancel Choir rehearses Thursdays at 7:15 p.m.
Monday, August 25, 2014
Congregational Church Choirs and Ensembles Welcome New Musicians
Saginaw’s First Congregational Church, 403 S. Jefferson Ave., welcomes new members to its choirs and musical team. Directed by Nicholas Schmelter, the ministries offer opportunity for participants of all ages and skill levels. Rehearsals commence September 4.
The Chancel Bells present monthly bell anthems making use of the six-octave set of Shulmerich and Malmark handbells, two supplementary three-octave sets of handbells by Schulmerich and Petit-Frtizen, and two four-octave sets of Suzuki chimes. The Chancel Bells rehearse Thursdays at 6:00 p.m.
With instrumentation varying from one to four parts, the Recorder Consort performs collaborative arrangements spanning a six-century period. Retired music educator Beverly Westervelt serves as the ensemble’s director. The Recorder Consort rehearses Tuesdays at 4:45 p.m.
Children interested in taking part in the chorister program meet on a weekly basis during the academic year once a ten-chorister quota is in place. Upon reaching that minimum, boys and girls will sing routinely at Sunday morning worship and other special events. Rhythmic exercises, Orff technique, and introductions to musical instruments and singing will take place throughout the program season.
Instrumental and other collaborative music includes a diversity of forms including solos for horn, clarinet, oboe, trumpet, and guitar. The Saginaw Brass Quintet supplements festive occasions such as Easter.
Musicians interested in learning about the pipe organ are asked to consider serving as organ assistants. Console assistants help the staff organist by turning pages, drawing stops, and even playing melodies at Sunday service. The time commitment is determined on a week-by-week basis – on a given service week, the assistant will have a short rehearsal with the staff organist (as scheduled on a day Monday through Thursday) and take part in 10:30 a.m. Sunday worship. The student will receive two thirty-minute organ lessons in exchange for his or her stewardship of time. This is a perfect opportunity for an aspiring organist or a pianist interested in expanding on his or her skills.
Vocalization and sight reading takes place at each choir rehearsal, but training on an individual basis can address matters of vocal health, range, breath control, and overall confidence that cannot be covered in an ensemble setting. Singers are invited to contact the Minister of Music to arrange lessons. Interested organists, pianists, and composers are asked to do the same. Applied lessons are gratis to all musicians who take part in First Congregational Church’s ministries. Music theory lessons will take place in a group format determined by interest.
Four choral scholar positions as determined by the availability of funds are offered by First Congregational Church to male and female students who obtain admission to one of the colleges or universities in the Saginaw vicinity and for whom it would otherwise be a hardship to acquire a higher education. Preference is given to those qualified applicants who pursue music; it is emphasized that funds enable a student to commence an education. Choral Scholarships only remain secured on the condition that the holder retains his or her academic place for the duration of the Scholarship. Candidates are advised to check in advance with the Minister of Music possible vacancies in their particular vocal range or ensemble.