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

403 South Jefferson Ave.
Saginaw, MI 48607



Saturday, November 29, 2014

Music List - Sunday, November

Sunday, November 30
Service of Healing and Pace

PRELUDE – Fantasy, Fugue and Chorale on “Engelberg” (Searle Wright)
CHORAL INTROIT – O Sing to the Lord (Nicholas Schmelter)
ANTHEM – Prayer for Peace (Traditional, arr. David Cherwien)
HYMN – Be Thou My Vision
OFFERING – Wait for the Lord (The Taizé Community)
COMMUNION VOLUNTARY – Liturgical Improvisation No. 1 (George Oldroyd)
HYMN – Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us
BENEDICTION RESPONSE – The Peace of God (John Rutter) 
POSTLUDE – No. 1 on a Theme of Orlando Gibbons (Song 24) (Charles V. Stanford)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Sousa Performs Solo Piano Recital at First Congregational Church

The fourth event of the 2014-2015 Friends of Music series of recitals takes place December 12 at Saginaw’s historic First Congregational Church, 403 S. Jefferson Avenue.  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.

Music List - Sunday, November 23

Sunday, November 23

PRELUDE FOR RECORDER CONSORT – Light of Love (William Crotch)
PRELUDE FOR RECORDER CONSORT – Barley Break (William Byrd)
CHORAL INTROIT – For the Beauty of the Earth (Christopher Urbiel)
HYMN – Come, Ye Thankful People, Come
ANTHEM – Hymn of Thanks (Leland Sateren)
HYMN – For the Fruit of All Creation
OFFERING – My God and King (T. Frederick H. Candlyn)
HYMN – Now Thank We All Our God
BENEDICTION RESPONSE – Sevenfold Amen (John Stainer)
POSTLUDE – “Darwall’s 148th” from Six Hymn-Preludes (Percy Whitlock)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Keiser, a Virtuoso Performer, to Offer Closing Recital of Dedicatory Season

First Congregational Church’s Friends of Music is pleased to announce the culminating event of the organ dedicatory season, a May 15, 2015, evening performance by famed concert artist Marilyn Keiser.  Keiser is in constant demand as a virtuoso performer and is a respected teacher and sacred music consultant. 

Mark your calendars!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Advent Noonday Recitals Begin Dec. 5 at First Congregational Church

Professional organists of the Great Lakes Bay Region and a retired educator will be highlighted in thirty-minute noonday recitals at historic First Congregational Church, 403 S. Jefferson Avenue, Saginaw, MI 48607.  Three Brown Bag Lunch concerts will take place in the church’s sanctuary on the Fridays of Advent beginning at 12:15 p.m.


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.


Dr. Steven Egler will perform the first recital on Friday, December 5.  Instructor of organ at Central Michigan University since 1976, 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 histeaching, 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 fifty years including his current appointment as Artist in Residence at First Congregational Church in Saginaw held since 2011.

Nicholas Schmelter will perform the second recital with narrator on Friday, December 12.  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.

James Royle will narrate a composition by Alec Rowley performed on December 12. Royle is retired from Saginaw Valley State University, where he served for fifteen years as a tenured Associate Professor in the College of Education focusing primarily on Special Education Teacher Preparation.  Previously, he served for over twenty years as the Director of the Millet Learning Center and, prior to that, for twelve years as Clinical Psychologist and Administrative Director of the Westlund Child Guidance Clinic. Royle and his wife of over fifty years, Tamara, came to Saginaw in 1965 upon completion of his graduate training and internship at Ohio State University.   A graduate of Albion College, Royle began his musical career as a boy soprano at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church and has performed in choral and musical theater settings including most recently “Treasure Island” (February 2012) and “Les Miserables” (March 2014) at the Midland Center for the Arts.  While on the faculty of Saginaw Valley State University, Royle sang with the university’s choirs and traveled with them for concert tours throughout the world. He has sung with Midland’s Men of Music for 10 years and the First Congregational Church’s Chancel Choir for more than forty years.

James Gladstone performs the final Brown Bag Lunch concert on Friday, December 19.  Gladstone graduated in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in education from Concordia College, River Forest, Illinois.  He took part in graduate study and continuing education in organ, Kodaly and Orff method, and choral direction from Washington University, Western Michigan University, Valparaiso University, and Trinity Lutheran Seminary.  Gladstone has served several Lutheran parishes throughout the country since the 1970s include the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke (Chicago, IL), Grace Lutheran Church (Winter Haven, FL), Trinity Lutheran Church (St. Joseph, MI), Carmel Lutheran Church (Carmel, IN), Redeemer Lutheran Church (Flint, MI), and Holy Cross Lutheran Church (Saginaw, MI).  A charter member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians and member of the American Guild of Organists, Gladstone has sung in several professional and community choirs and served as an adjunct instructor and accompanist at SVSU and Lake Michigan College.  He also reviews new choral and organ music for the publication Cross Accent.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Receptive Audience Welcomes Egler

Over 100 people gathered at First Congregational Church to attend Steven Egler's organ recital.   He performed music by Locklair, Bach, Vierne, and others in his November 14 recital.

Artist in Residence since 2011, Dr. Steven Egler is a long-time professor at Central Michigan University.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Music List - Sunday, November 16

Sunday, November 16

BELL ANTHEM – This Is My Father’s World (John Behnke)

BELL ANTHEM – Praise the Father (John Behnke)
CHORAL INTROIT – Great Is the Lord (Nicholas Schmelter)
HYMN – We Gather Together
ANTHEM – Psalm 150 (César Franck)
HYMN – In The Bulb There Is a Flower
ANTHEM – My Soul Is at Rest (The Taizé Community)
HYMN – Our God, Our Help in Ages Past
BENEDICTION RESPONSE – A Gaelic Blessing (John Rutter)
POSTLUDE – Finale Jubilante (Healey Willan)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Noonday Recital Sponsors Sought

Mark your calendars for the start of thirty-minute Advent recitals in the serene sanctuary of First Congregational Church.  Are you able to sponsor a noonday recital performer, who  will receive a $100 remuneration?

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.

Dampp-Chaser Humidty Control System Sought for Sanctuary Piano

Last winter’s dry conditions challenged the stability and general condition of the sanctuary’s Steinway piano and harpsichord.  Jeffrey Walker, the church’s piano technician, recommended the installation of a Dampp-Chaser humidity control system that can help protect the concert-quality instrument from the damaging effects of environmental change.  The cost of the system and installation is estimated at $525.  Will you make a financial offering to purchase – in part or in full – the Dampp-Chaser system?  Please consider doing so.  In addition to this solicitation, and to help finance the effort, there will also be a silent auction taking place December 1 to January 15 organized by Barb Stark.  Music-related items, including antique organ pipes from the closed Saginaw Auditorium, will be available for auction.  Do you have an auction-quality musical item or items that can be donated to the cause?  Please contact Nicholas Schmelter or Barb Stark if you are able to be of assistance.

Music Friends Mourn the Passing of Nicholas Oppermann

Friends of Music mourn the passing of Nicholas Oppermann.  With brother David, Nick started the New Reformation Dixieland in the 1970s.  He played the banjo and sang with the band, which has released several CDs, filmed a PBS special, and performed at jazz festivals and with ensembles nationwide.ed nearly 20 CDs, filmed a PBS special, and traveled all over the nation playing jazz festivals, with symphony orchestras and aboard cruise ships.

Taken from his obituary, Nicholas Oppermann passed away peacefully Friday, November 7, 2014, at the age of 71 years.  He was born March 5, 1943, to the late Peters and Martha (Smith) Oppermann.  He was graduated from Arthur Hill High School in 1961 and later graduated from Northern Michigan University.  He served with the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War. Nick was a founding member and lead vocalist of the New Reformation Band. He was employed by Ross Roy Advertising; Parker, Willox and Fairchild; The Sam Britton Organization; and McCann-Erickson.  He was also employed as Executive Director of the Saginaw Bay Orchestra, Director of Public Relations and Instructor at Northwood University, and editor of the Township Times.  He was a member of Lambda Sigma Fraternity and enjoyed reading, sailing, photography, and writing. Cremation has taken place and a memorial service will be planned for a later date. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider their favorite animal rescue organization.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

New Organs - The American Organist

Congratulations to Scott Smith Pipe Organs on the full-page announcement of the completed organ project in November's The American Organist magazine.  First Congregational Church's instrument is described in the "New Organs" section.

Crown Prince of the King of Instruments

Congratulations to Dr. Steven Egler, Artist in Residence, and Kenneth Wuepper on the interview "Crown Prince of the King of Instruments" published in November's The Diapason.  The conversation with organist Fred Swann was produced during his May 2014 visit to First Congregational Church to dedicate the Mills Memorial Pipe Organ.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Music List - Sunday, November 9

Sunday, November 9

HYMN – O Beautiful for Spacious Skies
HYMN – Lift Every Voice and Sing
HYMN – My Country, ’Tis of Thee
HYMN – The National Anthem
ANTHEM – A Hymn of Freedom (Eric Thiman)
HYMN – Eternal Father, Strong to Save
OFFERING – Fight the Good Fight (Eric Thiman)
HYMN – God of Our Fathers, Whose Almighty Hand
POSTLUDE – Exultemus (Psalm 81:1-3) (Percy Whitlock)

Music List - Sunday, November 2

Sunday, November 2

PRELUDE – Saraband (In Modo Elegiaco) – Herbert Howells
CHORAL INTROIT – I Was Glad (Healey Willan)
HYMN – For All the Saints
ANTHEM – No. 1. I Will Lift Up Mine Eyes (Malcolm Williamson)
HYMN – Jerusalem, My Happy Home
OFFERING – Give Us the Wings of Faith (Ernest Bullock)
COMMUNION ANTHEM – Eat This Bread (The Taizé Community)
HYMN – Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones 
BENEDICTION RESPONSE – Threefold or “Danish” Amen (Traditional)
POSTLUDE – Fantasy on “Sine Nomine” (Francis Jackson)

Monday, November 3, 2014

For the Beauty of the Earth - November 23

The Chancel Choir will premiere “For the Beauty of the Earth” by Dr. Christopher Urbiel on Sunday, November 23.  Inspired by the flowing music of chant, the composition was presented to Nicholas Schmelter in 2013 to celebrate the completion of the organ project.  Dr. Urbiel, a native of Michigan, is a graduate of Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan.  He directs a comprehensive music program at a large Roman Catholic parish in Ohio.