MUSIC AT FIRST CHURCH
Music is a wonderful gift from God. Our earliest recorded Hebrew scriptures reveal that music has been central to worship from the beginning. Throughout the Old and New Testaments, we are instructed to “sing a new song to the Lord,” and to “praise God with strings and pipe!” This rich tradition continues around the world and here at First Church.
Our largest choir is you, the congregation, as you sing the hymns each Sunday. The Adult Choir is open to anyone high school age and above, and welcomes all who love to sing. We are fortunate to be assisted by professional Section Leaders who provide musical leadership and support to the choir. This group rehearses each Thursday evening and sings in worship each Sunday morning from September to June. We welcome new members at any time. A highlight of the Choir’s year is the annual Festival of Lessons & Carols, presented each year at Christmas time.
Our worship is also enriched by soloists, instrumentalists, percussion, and handbells from time to time, both from within our congregation and from the wider community. First Church owns five octaves of Schulmerich Handbells. We look forward to being able to reconvene the Handbell Choir as volunteers become available to play. Please speak with Director of Music Ministries, Jim Gower, if you would like to find out more about participation in any of these important ministries.
First Church is truly fortunate to be the home of the Philip B. Stanley Carillon. The 37 bells, weighing a total of 7,960 pounds, were forged by the Petit & Fritsen Company of The Netherlands, and are suspended about 50 feet above the ground in a tower near the entrance to the church. The bell tower is a beacon of beauty both visually and in its glorious sound.
Our gifted Carillonneur, Tatiana Lukyanova, provides a 15-minute Carillon Prelude to the Sunday morning service on the first Sunday of each month throughout the year.
We offer a series of free, open-air carillon concerts called The Bells of First Church every Tuesday evening in July at 7 pm Carillonneurs from the local area and around the world delight us with the amazing capabilities of this instrument. You are invited to bring a picnic and lawn chairs or blankets, friends, and family for a relaxed evening of music and fellowship on the shady lawn. Complimentary ice cream treats and cold bottled water and provided at each concert, and the final concert of the season is preceded by a pot-luck picnic. The one-hour concerts are held rain or shine. In the event of rain, covered seating is provided in the narthex.
Occasionally throughout the year we present concerts in our sanctuary featuring soloists and ensembles from the wider community. Examples of past concerts are CONCORA (Connecticut Choral Artists) and ensembles from the Music Department of Central Connecticut State University. Three or four times each year we present our First Church Breakfast Concerts, which take place on Sunday mornings. The morning service is followed by a Continental Breakfast at 11:00, after which is a 30-minute concert beginning at 11:30, performed by our own musicians as well as professionals from the local area. In tandem with the Mission and Congregational Life Working Group, we occasionally offer an informal evening of jazz or lighter music in Fellowship Hall with refreshments (and sometimes dancing!) Our sanctuary is a sought-after performing venue for local musical ensembles because of its outstanding acoustics and layout. When possible, we are happy to host such events.