In any Live Oak service, there is going to be a variety of music. It may be our choir, our beloved Steinway, our house band, our children, or other church musicians in any number of configurations. It could be guest guitar players singing familiar tunes, a Klezmer group, a Classical Indian trio, soloists from UT, a Celtic duo, World Music, the possibilities are literally endless in this music-loving city. We value both the old faithful and the newly created songs. Each service, we strive to carry the unique message of each sermon, through the power of music, to as many hearts as we can, in any way we can. Does this appeal to you? Are you interested in being part of our music making? We want to hear from you.
The Live Oak Choir is made up of dedicated church members and friends, and we generally sing two Sundays per month, with rehearsals taking place on Wednesday nights. Choir has been as small as 8 people, and as large as 25 through the years. When we have more, we have learned large, challenging works and presented them on Choir Sundays each spring. When we are smaller, we sing the music we are capable of doing well. Our goal is to become unified and absorbed in the task of connecting to the listener, “to touch the full range of human emotions”, to quote Rebecca Parker and John Buehrens. It might sound grandiose, but when it happens it feels wonderful.
Most choir members know how to read music, or they have had some introduction to it as a child or youth. We use a computer program that plays recordings of the vocal parts as the notes are viewed. It enables people who depend more on their ear to learn the music at home. I also enjoy helping people one on one. I don’t regard choir as limited to adults, but we do meet after work, from 7:30-9:00PM. As most people do not care to have young children out that late, we do not have child care. However, we have had babies and young children in the choir room with us during rehearsal, when it was necessary. It can be a nice way to give them some live music exposure.
We like to see and hear kids and youth making music in our services, very much. Do you have any who would like to lead a hymn with me, sing a song alone or with others, or play their instruments? Please encourage them, and talk to me. They add so much joy to the service, and they benefit from knowing that their efforts are valued by the congregation.
If you don’t see something you would like to do musically here, send me an email please, and I will try to help.
I am thankful for the many volunteer musicians who have stuck with choir over the years, and for the band members who work so hard at producing their own Sunday services on special occasions. They all make our music program complete; we couldn’t do it without them.
During the summer, as choir does not meet for rehearsals, and fewer music volunteers are available to work with, my tasks have become more oriented to music for the coming year. Rev. Joanna has outlined services and themes for the entire 2018-2019 year, and I know how lucky I am to be able to plan the music so far in advance. I believe it is a rarity for any church music director to have this much lead time to plan. The theme for the year is “Live a Life on Fire”, and we will be mixing classical, pop, and other music genres.
If we can keep our choir as large as it was at the end of May, there will be no need to supplement it with paid singers on special occasions. New members are welcome. This will make more funds available to hire guest musicians, especially those with other musical styles than we commonly have in church.
I am presently interviewing accompanists for the choir. I hope to find someone who is comfortable with American popular music styles, as well as being an excellent music reader.
At the end of this month and the beginning of August I will be attending the UUMN (UUMusiciansNetwork) conference in Portland, Oregon. I’m sure I will come back with armloads of music and new ideas for our music program. It’s always a well of inspiration.
Next year, there will be a more frequent need for volunteer pop soloists, guitar players, and drummers. We do have several members and friends who are great soloists and guitar players, but we need reserves as well. We have a few people who play drums in our church, but we need more on our roster. We have such busy lives that backups are essential.
The idea of having a permanent children’s choir is not forgotten. Figuring out how to schedule it is a challenge. I am available after the second service, always, and available between services on the first, third, and fifth Sundays (choir rehearsal takes place on the second and fourth at 10:30). It would be wonderful to have a volunteer spearhead this, who has some music background, and I would be happy to support them with resources and accompany on piano when needed.
Speaking of piano, several times a year I wish for a volunteer pianist, for some small thing or another. We have had performances in the past by Live Oak youth and children, and the occasional adult. Is that an option for you or someone you know? Solo and Ensemble time in our schools sometimes brings music to Live Oak services, and that is warmly received!
“Live a Life on Fire” is sure to stoke our internal flame, to energize our passion to act for good and to “love the Hell out of the world”. I am excited. My goal is to amplify the dynamics of Rev. Joanna’s words, with all kinds of music, and to do that, those of you who are musicians are being called! Singers, instrumentalists of all ages, start thinking about all the music that makes you want to “Live a Life on Fire” and join in!
The UU Musicians conference in Portland exposed me to lots of new outlooks and ideas for bringing music into our congregations. This link is a nice description of the workshops, in case you are curious to see what we do: https://www.uumnconference.org/workshops
The participants had the privilege of hearing Rev. Dr. Bill Sinkford (former president of the UUA) preach on Sunday morning. The conference choir (of over 100) always sings on Sunday, the last day, and the entire service was glorious. Next year’s conference is in Denver, and it is open to all UU musicians (volunteers too) and people who want to support and be involved in our church music making. Hope some of you are interested!
We have a new accompanist! Darja Tomanovich is a graduate of Texas State, a Jazz Studies/Piano Performance major with experience accompanying instrumental and vocal soloists as well as church choir. I am really looking forward to working with her, and I think the church will be very happy with her. Her first appearance on the chancel will be Sep. 9th for our Water Communion.
This Wednesday will be our first choir rehearsal- I have had several new members express an interest, so that is fantastic! I hope that trend continues. Come to the Music Building (portable near the playground) at 7:30 PM and join in.
There are plans brewing for a youth band! Look for an announcement from Cindy LaGreca on the Interests and Events Facebook page soon- she will be volunteering to help create and manage this ensemble for middle school/high school youth (Thank You Cindy!). More musicians are needed, but once it gets going, look out! The youth will be making themselves heard!
Also, I intend to start an intergenerational choir that sings at least once a month, and you will see an announcement regarding that in the next week or two. Rehearsals will be 30 min. before the first service, when we go back to 2 services. Fun, easy music that can be learned quickly, for everyone!
If there is anything musical that you would like to offer, and you do not see it here, I would love to talk with you about it
Rebecca Maze, Music Director firstname.lastname@example.org
Enhancing the Service through Choral Music…
Live Oak Unitarian Universalist Choir is led by Music Director Rebecca Maze. Under her direction, the choir practices each week during the choir year to perform before the congregation. The members of Choir have a variety of musical backgrounds, ranging from no prior experience to music majors and long-time performers. We encourage anyone who loves to sing to come join us!
The choir sings diverse styles of music that includes classical, contemporary lyrical and modern, ethnic, jazz, and pop. We use many songs written by Unitarian composers. We enjoy collaborating with other musicians. In previous performances, we have sung with individual instrumentalists such as flute, violin, cello, clarinet, oboe, and guitar.
The choir meets every Wednesday evening from late August to May. The choir sings on the second and fourth service each month, in addition to holidays and special services. There are sporadic re-groupings for some services during the summer, but not with all the members as a whole. On Sundays when the choir sings, they meet in the sanctuary before the service to rehearse. The choir always sings on Christmas Eve, and we also open it to family members and friends who sing. There is an extra rehearsal before the service.
One Sunday in the spring, the choir is responsible for the entire service, both music and message. This has been the practice for at least twenty years. The spoken portion is generally written and read by the choir director or by the choir members, alternating with 6 or 7 musical pieces.
Those First Few Notes…
“I was surprised to learn that I didn’t have to join the church in order to sing in the choir. The commitment to participate was what I needed to shorten the gap between my intention to start going to services and my ability to actually show up here, and it has led to me becoming a member of the congregation. I was pretty sure it would be good for me, but I didn’t expect it to be so much fun!”
“I felt a need to connect with other people. Music has a way of soothing the soul in a way nothing else can. Becoming a part of the choir is what made me stay active in the church, no matter what stresses were in my life.”
“I hadn’t sung in choirs in years, and wanted to get back into choral singing. The people and the music we make keeps me here.”
“I wanted to sing in a place where I was not judged by my beliefs (or lack thereof). I stayed because the people who take part in choir are like family, and we come to rely on each other.”
“I wanted a place to belong.”