“For the music of creation, for the song your Spirit sings,
for your sound’s divine expression, burst of joy in living things:
God, our God, the world’s composer, hear us, echoes of your voice;
music is your art, your glory, let the human heart rejoice!”
~ Shirley E. Murray (#535VU)
It’s hard to believe that another year has gone by so quickly, and with it another year of wonderful music-making here at Cochrane Street United Church. It is an absolute pleasure and privilege to serve as Organist & Choir Director for a congregation that has such an enthusiasm, appreciation, and incredible talent for music.
It’s been a busy, ambitious, but inspiring year at Cochrane Street United Church all around, including in the music department. In March we had the pleasure to collaborate with Dr. Jakub Martinec and the Memorial University Festival and Chamber Choir’s for a reflective and inspiring Ash Wednesday service. Both choirs joined in singing Gabriel Fauré’s famous Requiem, featuring guest performers Stephen Candow (organ), Amy Grainger (soprano), and Daniel Dunn (baritone).
Throughout Lent, we pushed the musical boundaries by going “around the world in forty days” as we devoted each Sunday in Lent to a different corner of the globe, singing music exclusively from that region in worship. It was a joy to revisit some old favourites, learn of their origins, and to discover new repertoire that became essential to the hymnody of the congregation.
The choir has had the incredible privilege to collaborate with Dr. Carolyn Sturge-Sparks and the George Street United Church Choir over the past year, beginning with the Good Friday service. This sparked a wonderful relationship between the two choirs and we have had the good fortune to collaborate with George Street and their choir on many occasions throughout the year. Recently, Dr. Douglas Dunsmore and the Gower Street United Church Choir have also joined us, hopefully sparking the beginning a wonderful relationship of choral singing and musical collaboration between the congregations.
In September, we were pleased to mark the beginning of the Patricia Young Youth Choral Academy, an extension of Project Grace, to Cochrane Street United Church. As part of this endeavour, the church welcomed four choral scholars to the church choir: Kristian Butt (soprano), Jody Lear (alto), Jacob Lawrence (tenor), and Ryan Dillon (bass). Their presence has enriched our choir and has enabled us to explore new and exciting repertoire.
The choir had the privilege to perform for The Rt. Rev. Dr. Gary Paterson, the Moderator of the United Church of Canada during his visit to Newfoundland and Labrador Conference in October. An evening of music was held at here at Cochrane Street and musical ensembles from St. James, Gower, Topsail, and Cochrane took part in the concert. It was a truly wonderful evening of music.
In November, we saw the first installment of our ‘Beer and Hymns’ event, which was a great success. We had a wonderful evening of fellowship, fun, and singing. It was wonderful to belt out old favourites as well as hymns that are new to our repertoire. Beer and Hymns has continued with subsequent installments, all with great success and encouraging and enthusiastic response by those in attendance.
One of the highlights of my work here at Cochrane is Messy Church on Saturday’s. I have a wonderful time playing music for and teaching the children new songs. We’ve learnt several new numbers from More Voices, the United Church of Canada’s supplement to Voices United, and some of these hymns that are so beloved in Messy Church have made their way into Sunday worship. I love the enthusiasm and willingness that the children have to learning new music!
In conclusion, I have a few individuals/groups that I need to acknowledge:
First of all, I want to thank the choir of Cochrane Street United Church. I have the privilege to work with a wonderful group of singers who are always ready and willing to sing a variety of choral music. They put up with my crazy ideas and are always willing to try new things, and they do so with great enthusiasm. In the coming months the choir looks forward to presenting new repertoire by Barber, Duruflé, Fauré, Mozart, and many others.
I want to thank Rev. Miriam Bowlby for her support and encouragement. It is so wonderful to work with someone who is so understanding, open, honest, and helpful. It is a pure joy to collaborate with her to create a worship experience each Sunday.
I want to thank Maggie Power, my incredible friend and volunteer accompanist, who so willingly takes on the task of accompanying the choir for our larger choral works (and some of the smaller ones, as well), without her much of what we do could not be possible.
Finally, I want to thank YOU, the congregation of Cochrane Street United Church for the love, welcome, support, and encouragement that you show me each and every Sunday. Your kind words of love and support are always appreciated.
I look forward to the future opportunities and joys that my time at Cochrane Street United Church will bring.
“Psalms and symphonies exalt you, drum and trumpet, string and reed,
simple melodies acclaim you, tunes that rise from deepest need,
hymns of longing and belonging, carols from a cheerful throat,
lilt of lullaby and love song catching heaven in a note”
~ Shirley E. Murray (#535VU)
Organist & Choir Director
2014 Annual Report