Listen to samples from the
CUUC Choir Music CD
Through the years, the volunteer choir of the Community Unitarian Universalist Congregation (CUUC) at White Plains has become an increasingly integral part of the Sunday worship service, the music selections growing out of dialogue between the director and the minister. They have done liturgical, classical, neoclassical, folk, and popular works. Some of the music has been composed or arranged by the directors or their associates. When Lisa Meyer came to CUUC in the year 2001, from the Department of Music at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University, she brought eclectic and demanding literature. Guided by her professionalism and musicianship, the repertoire grew to include: Benjamin Britten's Ceremony of Carols, George Frideric Handel's Messiah, Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria, Franz Schubert’s Mass in G Major, Gabriel Fauré’s Cantique de Jean Racine, and a variety of folk songs, American spirituals, contemporary pieces, multi-cultural works, and sacred standards. The mode of performance has been as varied as the genres of music itself, which, along with a cappella works, include collaborations with flute, violin, cello, percussion, chamber orchestra, and of course, piano.
As part of the "Music at CUUC" concert series, the Choir performs two concerts per year, the second of which is usually of a lighter variety of music encompassing theater compositions and standards. Composers and lyricists that have been highlighted include Richard Rodgers, Ira Gershwin, Alan Jay Lerner, Irving Berlin, and Harold Arlen. The CUUC Choir has also performed concerts at venues outside of the church including the 2nd Sunday Concert Series at the Park Avenue United Methodist Church in Manhattan, and the Interfaith Center at the C.W. Post Campus of Long Island University in Brookville, NY. In April 2003, the CUUC Choir was privileged to be invited to perform at the Unitarian Universalist District Meeting for Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, held in Stamford, Connecticut, where they received a standing ovation. Always eager to collaborate, the CUUC Choir has joined forces in concerts and services with other houses of worship such as the First Baptist Church of White Plains, the Emanuel Evangelical Church in Pleasantville, and the First Unitarian Church of Westchester in Hastings-On-Hudson. The enrichment gained from all of these experiences, collaborations, concerts, and services, greatly contributes to the continuing enjoyment and musical fulfillment that the choir organization experiences on a continual basis.
Becoming a CUUC Choir Member
The CUUC Choir currently consists of volunteers with a variety of musical experience and backgrounds. Those that are of high school age and up are welcome to participate. Reading music is not a requirement although some members do have some musical training. Many members do not have any formal musical training, but have some previous experience performing choral music. The main requirements to be a CUUC Choir member are the ability to match pitch and great enthusiasm. Practice CDs and recordings are often supplied to assist in the learning process of the music for both services and concerts. Those interested in joining the CUUC Choir may contact Choir Director Lisa Meyer at email@example.com for more information and to schedule an informal audition.
- Two Sunday services per month between September and June. Services take place at 10:00am with an 8:45am warm-up/rehearsal that morning.
- Attending one Tuesday night rehearsal per week from 7:30-9:15pm.
- Two additional services per year: Yom Kippur and Christmas Eve
- Two concerts outside of Sunday Services – one in December and one in April, each with one dress rehearsal.
- Enjoying the camaraderie and excellent music making that takes place at each rehearsal and performance.
Benefits of Becoming a CUUC Choir Member
- The rehearsal and performance schedule for the entire season is furnished to choir members by August 1st allowing members plenty of time to organize personal and professional schedules.
- Repertoire lists of the pieces to be performed on Sundays and in concerts are handed out in September and again in January so members know which works to expect and concentrate on. Revisions can occur, but are infrequent.
- Occasionally, professional section supporters are brought in to add support to a section of the choir due to absences or to lend assistance in particularly challenging repertoire - thus relieving pressure on the volunteers and aiding in the learning process of the music.
- An emergency phone chain exists to facilitate the communication among members in the event of the need to cancel a rehearsal or service due to weather or illness of the director.
- As learning music is like learning another language, choir members continually benefit from knowledge gained during rehearsals while learning and applying that knowledge to the repertoire that is being performed. Each rehearsal focuses on the different aspects, both mechanical and psychological, of producing a beautiful, healthy sound and shaping that sound to be musically and emotionally interesting to singers and listeners. Aspects covered in rehearsals are:
- Breath support to promote healthy singing and good pitch
- How to blend voices for a unified and pleasing sound
- Unified vowel production for good tone and pitch
- Learning to listen to other singers and sections to improve balance and pitch
- How to work as a Team
- How to be musical by: Shaping a melody; Word and syllable emphasis; Dynamics – louds and softs; Phrasing to emphasize emotion and meaning
- Because of the presence of a piano accompanist at all rehearsals and services:
- the choir director can use her hands to work more efficiently and productively with the choir.
- the learning of music is expedited due to the combination of piano support and the conducting of the director.
- the caliber of the music performed is of a higher musical level, again due to the fact that the conductor is free to use her hands to direct the choir.
- Creating new and lasting friendships through the collaboration and creation of fine music.
Scheduling an Audition / Find Out More Information
To become a CUUC Choir member, you can do one or more of the following:
- Contact Choir Director Lisa Meyer at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an informal audition at a mutually convenient time.
- Simply attend any Tuesday night choir rehearsal at 7:30pm in the sanctuary. It is recommended to contact the choir director in advance to make sure that the rehearsal is taking place and give notice that you will be attending.
- Speak with the choir director or any choir member after the 10:00am Sunday service to find out more information and/or to ask about participation. Please check the church calendar to see which Sundays the CUUC Choir is singing.