June 2017 Music Notes

We have a really good thing going here..

I recently bumped into one of my colleagues who happens to be a Music Director at a local Church (which shall remain unnamed). After catching up for a while, we started talking about our respective Churches. Well it wasn't long before I was reminded just how good I have it, and how lucky I am to be part of First Parish. My colleague grumbled about the lack of participation in the music program at her Church, and the lack of singers she had access to for her choir. I found it very difficult not to brag about the music program at First Parish and all the wonderful voices I get to work with. I wanted to sing the praises of the many volunteers who drive the music program at First Parish. I wanted to wax poetic about my beloved Music Committee and all the choirs, and the Meetinghouse Ringers. I wanted to speak about the joys of working with a Minister who loves and appreciates music, and for a congregation who uses music as a vital part of spiritual life. In my conversation with my colleague, I did my best to not gloat too much about my good fortune. After all, I merely inherited a great music program at a Church full of people who love music, many who have music talents they share joyfully. It was hard to hide my enthusiasm though.

May was a great month. Many thanks to the Tervo’s and friends for putting on a fantastic concert on May 20th. It was quite an impressive line up of players and repertoire. Thank you to Music Committee volunteers for putting together the reception.

 I look forward to the rest of the year. Though I cherish every service at First Parish, I am especially excited about Music Appreciation Sunday on June 11th. All choirs will be participating and it will be a lot of fun. And of course, Justine’s ordination at First Parish Northborough later that day will be beautiful. I just wish we didn’t have to say goodbye to Justine. She is so loved, and I know she loves all of you.

 We have a really good thing going here…

Your Music Director,


March Music Notes

When I tell people about First Parish (and I brag about this amazing congregation often), they are usually impressed by the diversity of ideas, beliefs, and musical tastes which we celebrate each week. Of course, my thoughts are almost always on music. One week, a Mozart Gloria; another week, an American spiritual; the next week, a contemporary-style choral anthem. Often within one service, we are able to use several different genres of music. As I wax poetic to whomever will listen, I hear myself declaring that this musical freedom works because it's all tied together by two overarching principles: respect and love for all good, life-affirming things; and an openness to (and willingness to participate in) musics of all kinds.

This is true of the congregation, the choirs, and the staff. And, there is a sense of "serious-play", or "funwork" if you will. We take the music very seriously, but not ourselves. It's that lack of hubris which, in my opinion, allows us to reach a state of musical flow more often than not. That is what I saw, for instance, when the Youth choirs joined with the Senior Choir on February 12th to sing "Building Bridges". That song is not a classical masterpiece, and yet it served as a powerful tool of unity and joy. A simple song, the Senior Choir approached it with the same enthusiasm and humility with which they practice all the music. They trusted it's purpose implicitly, and it was therefore very effective. This is what impresses and moves me... not music for music's sake (although I cherish that as well), but music with a purpose. Or, maybe a better way to say it... People with a purpose, making excellent music together, and enjoying it. I hear it in the congregational singing, and I thank you all for being part of this. I am very proud of the youth choirs for their sense of purpose also. They do a great job, and I'm always inspired by their work. March is going to be a busy and wonderful month. The Meetinghouse Ringers are going to be playing on March 5th, so don't miss it. The 19th will be extra special, and I plan on having Junior, Intermediate and Senior Choirs all singing. Also, I am looking forward to the pleasure of providing music for the evening service on March 12th, working with Ellen and Justine. (We need to figure out a way to keep Justine here forever, by the way.) Carol Choir will begin rehearsing again on March 5th. All choirs are starting to ramp up for a beautiful Easter celebration. Spring is almost here.

On Saturday March 25th 7:00pm, we will have the second concert of our 2017 concert series. Brahms' Piano Trio in C (cello, violin and piano), a Bach Sonata for oboe, violin and cello, Chopin solo piano work, Jazz saxophone and piano duet, and more. Performances by Janice Tervo, Henry Tervo, Mark Tervo, Steve Zocchi, David Siegel, Bryce Denney and others. Admission is $15, children 12 and under are $8. Bring your friends! The concert will be a fundraiser for the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee. Here is a blurb from their website. "UUSC advances human rights through grassroots collaboration. In more than a dozen countries throughout the world, UUSC fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression. UUSCâs innovative approaches and measurable impact in promoting economic justice, bolstering environmental justice, and protecting rights at risk are grounded in the belief that all people have inherent power, dignity, and rights"

Some mornings I wake to the sounds of my twin sons (now almost three years old) singing in their room. Usually they are making up songs about all the things they love. It's almost a sort of meditation. "I love Mommy and Papa, I love Luca (their new little brother), I love Bear (teddy bear), I love bananas, etc." It's a litany of love. It is the most pure, most beautiful music I have ever heard. It is music with the perfect purpose...to express love and joy.


Contact Info

First Parish Church
2 Westford St
Chelmsford MA 01824