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

FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH
403 South Jefferson Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48607

989.754.6565

www.fccsaginaw.org

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Egler Introduces Student to Mills Memorial Pipe Organ


Dr. Steven Egler, Artist in Residence, introduces his student, Stephanie Gewirtz, to the console of the Frances Goll Mills Memorial Pipe Organ.  The series of photos is courtesy of Kenneth Wuepper.










 

FCC’s Friends of Music Announce Autumn Series of Events

The Friends of Music of Saginaw’s historic First Congregational Church announce their 2014-2015 series of recitals and musical events highlighting regional and national talent. 

The four autumn events kick off with a September 26, 7:30 p.m., recital by Nicholas Schmelter, Director of Music Ministries, on the recently restored and rebuilt Frances Goll Mills Memorial Pipe Organ.  All donations received at this event will be applied to the congregation’s organ reinvestment fund. Enjoy music by Bach, Beethoven, Buck, Dupré, Grainger, Sowerby, and Wyton. Schmelter graduated in 2006 with a Master of Music degree in organ performance from Central Michigan University, where he studied with Dr. Steven Egler. He has undertaken research in pipe organ design and installation, and has surveyed trends in Roman Catholic organ installations in the United States. In addition, he has researched and performed the music of Marcel Dupré, antiquarian organ music from Great Britain and the United States, and the accompaniments of Victorian choral works. Schmelter was awarded honors at Central Michigan University including a Graduate Fellowship, the Centralis Scholar Scholarship Award, the School of Music Performance Scholarship, and the Presser Foundation Award. He has performed recitals and other tours throughout Michigan as well as in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Milwaukee, and Toronto, Canada. Schmelter has served in many capacities in the

American Guild of Organists. He presently serves the Saginaw Valley Chapter as Dean. A church musician since the age of sixteen, he is an adjunct faculty member at Saginaw Valley State University.

Solo and collaborative pianists Wendy Chu and Yu-Hsuan Yang perform selections by Barber, Bizet, Brahms, and Gershwin at the second recital, October 11, 7:30 p.m.  Observe the sights and sounds of two hands and four hands on the sanctuary’s Steinway piano.  Wendy Wan-Hsing Chu has performed both as a soloist and collaborative artist in Taiwan, Canada, and the U.S.A. She has also taught at Michigan State University, Central Michigan University, and Stella Royce Music Camp. An active member of the Music Teachers National Association, Dr. Chu serves as the Semi-Finals Chair for Central Division of Michigan Music Teachers Association. She has also adjudicated for MMTA. Dr. Chu earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy from Fu-Jen Catholic University in Taiwan and Master of Music degree in piano performance and music education from Central Michigan University in 2002. In 2006, she received the Doctor of Music degree in piano performance from Michigan State University. Her principal teachers were Ralph Votapek and Panayis Lyras.  Residing in Saginaw, Dr. Chu teaches privately and at Saginaw Valley State University.  A native of Taiwan, Yu-Hsuan received her Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance from National Taiwan Normal University. She completed her Master of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Michigan, where she was awarded by the Patricia Joy Arden Scholarship Fund and studied with Dr. Louis Nagel. Yu-Hsuan received the Doctor of Music degree in piano performance from the University of Minnesota, where she studied with Alexander Braginsky and was awarded the Mann Fellowship and Graduate Teaching Assistantship. Yu-Hsuan was a prize winner in the Schubert Club Scholarship Competition and Changhua County Piano Competition and finalist in the University of Michigan’s Concerto Competition. She was also awarded an Honorable Mention in the Bradshaw & Buono International Piano Competition. Yu-Hsuan has been invited to perform in the Steinway Peace Piano Concert, the Schubert Club Concert Series, the Grace Academy Faculty Recital, and master classes given by famous pianists including Ieva Jokubaviciute, Read Gainsford, Rebecca Penneys, Hie-Yon Choi, and Arthur Greene. Ms. Yang currently resides in Midland with her husband.

Dr. Steven Egler, Artist in Residence at the First Congregational Church, performs the third recital on the Mills Memorial Pipe Organ on November 14, 7:30 p.m.  Egler has selected works by Bach, Bédard, Hebble, Locklair, Vierne, and Yon.  Instructor of organ at Central Michigan University since the 1970s, Egler holds Bachelor, Master, and Doctor of Music degrees in organ performance from the University of Michigan, where he studied organ with Robert Glasgow and harpsichord with Edward Parmentier. Additional study has been with Lillian McCord, Catharine Crozier, Charles W. Ore, Quentin Faulkner, and George Ritchie. He has appeared as a soloist, collaborative musician, and clinician throughout the United States, as well as in Canada, Norway, and France, and he has performed as a member of the Shelly-Egler Flute and Organ Duo for over thirty-five years. His performances have been featured several times on Pipedreams, and he has performed and given workshops for eight regional and national conventions of The American Guild of Organists and the National Flute Association. He has also taught in six Pipe Organ Encounters sponsored by the AGO, and he has adjudicated various organ competitions, including the prestigious National Organ Competition in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Many of his current and former students hold major church and college teaching positions throughout the USA, and Egler has been honored by his colleagues five times with the Professor Merit Award for his teaching, creative endeavors, and scholarly work. He has been involved with the AGO in many official capacities, including the National Council on which he served as Councillor for Region V.  The Shelly-Egler Duo’s CD, The Dove Descending, is available from Summit Records, and Dr. Egler’s first solo CD, When In Our Music God is Glorified, was recorded in 1999 by Prestant Records on the 1997 Casavant organ, Opus 3756, at Central Michigan University. This CD is available from The Organ Historical Society. Dr. Egler’s collaboration with the late Dr. Paul Willwerth, professor of trumpet emeritus at Central Michigan University, resulted in two CD’s: Music for Trumpet and Organ (a remastering of an earlier LP recording) and Ecclesiastical Music for Trumpet and Organ (compositions by Dr. Willwerth). His most recent CD, The Organ Works of Gerald Near, was recorded by White Pine Music and is available from MorningStar Music. An active church musician, Egler has served several churches in Illinois and Michigan for over forty-five years including his current appointment as Artist in Residence at First Congregational Church in Saginaw held since 2011.

The fourth autumn program, a piano recital by Miguel de Sousa, will take place on Friday, December 12, at 7:30 p.m.  Miguel Luis Inocencio de Sousa, a traveled classical pianist and coach from Portugal completing an advanced music degree at Central Michigan University, will perform pieces by Beethoven, Brahms, Chopin, Grieg, and Kapustin.  Born in Setubal, Sousa began his musical studies in the Academy of Fine Arts Luisa Todi.  He attended classes with Daniela Ignazzitto in 2006-2007. In 2007, Miguel began a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance at Evora University under Elizabeth Allen and Antonio Rosado. He completed his undergraduate degree in 2010. Since 2009, Miguel has performed solo recitals in Portugal, Sweden, England, Italy, and the United States. In addition to Miguel’s experience as a soloist, he has accompanied small and large ensembles.  Now, while completing a Master of Music degree in piano performance under Dr. Alexandra Mascolo-David at Central Michigan University, de Sousa accompanies many vocal and instrumental students including the CMU Concert Choir.

Three thirty-minute Advent noonday recitals will supplement the autumn calendar.  They will take place in the church’s sanctuary on the Fridays of December as listed below.

Dr. Steven Egler – Organ
Friday, December 5, 2014 | 12:15 p.m.

Nicholas Schmelter – Organ | James Royle – Narrator
Friday, December 12, 2014 | 12:15 p.m.

James Gladstone – Organ
Friday, December 19, 2014 | 12:15 p.m.

Events for winter/spring 2015 will be announced in coming months.

First Congregational Church is an acoustically superb building, which dates to 1868, and is located on the corner of Jefferson and Hayden in downtown Saginaw. The congregation is affiliated with the United Church of Christ and has recognized excellence and eclecticism in its musical offerings since the 1800’s.

Find below courtesy photos of each fall recitalist.
 



 

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 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.

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.

For more information about First Congregational Church’s musical programs, contact Nicholas E. Schmelter, Minister of Music, at 989.754.6565.

Choral Scholar Patrons Sought

First Congregational Church is pleased to announce the receipt of the first 2014-2015 Choral Scholar patron gift, a $200 donation made by a retired Chancel Choir member in celebration of her friends in the congregation. This donation covers a four-weeks singer scholarship at the rate of $50 per singer per week.

Please contact Nicholas Schmelter if you are able to serve as a financial patron of or for a choral scholar. Benevolent members supported the education of two SVSU student musicians, active with regular weekly service in the Chancel Choir, during 2013-2014.

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.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Rehearsals Resume September 4

Another worshipful season of singing, ringing, and music making at First Congregational Church approaches. Repertoire spans the centuries and includes some new first-rate library finds for the Chancel Bells, Chancel Choir, and Recorder Consort.

The tentative calendar for 2014-2015 is available for download at First Congregational Church’s website. Rehearsals resume on Thursday, September 4.

New musicians are welcome.  Contact Nicholas E. Schmelter for more information.