Music

Music At The Meeting House

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Music holds a prominent place in the life and worship of the Unitarian Meeting House of Hartford. We have become well known in Greater Hartford for the high caliber and great variety of our musical offerings.

The organ provides the aural framework of the service, playing the Musical Call to Worship and Postlude, the hymns, and frequently accompanying the Choir. In 2004 the 1964 two-manual, twenty-one rank Austin organ was replaced with a three-manual Austin console and augmented with thirty-three ranks of Walker digital stops. This upgrade greatly enhanced the versatility and tonal spectrum of the instrument.

The Choir currently comprises about twenty singers, primarily volunteers who are supported by several “choral scholars,” students at the nearby Hartt School of Music. The Choir performs a wide variety of music, which has, over the years, included Gregorian chant, jazz and folk anthems, as well as standard classical liturgical repertoire. For several years, USH has hosted a composer-in-residence, a graduate student in composition who creates several choral and instrumental pieces for performance in our worship services.

Additional musicians from the pews and the Greater Hartford community enhance the services, and children’s voices often add their music as well.

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Q: Are singers and organ the only musical performers at the Meeting House?

A: Sometimes we’re able to add other instrumentalists. It depends on the needs of the service . . . and the budget.

Q: How can I join the Choir?

A: The Choir is open to all singers who can capably match pitch and hold their part. Sight reading music is an advantage, since we learn a lot of music quite rapidly. Many wonderful Choir members have started out with only minimal singing skills, and have been delighted to see their vocal abilities grow through participation in the Choir.

Q: Why don’t you do the music I like to hear?

A: If what you like to hear is appropriate for a Worship service, stick around a while longer! Over the course of several years you’re likely to hear anything from Brahms to Brubeck, from chant to Tchaikovsky, from string quartets to Amazing Grace.

Q: I can’t sing, but I’d love to help the music program.

A: Thank you! Drop in for ideas like helping organize the choral music, posting flyers for our Music Sundays, or rearranging furniture.

Q: Why is the organ so loud? Why isn’t the organ louder?

A: The organist selects organ stops according to the needs of the music and the size of the group (small group of children, or full-house congregation).

Q: Now that the organ has been upgraded, will we ever hear the piano again?

A: We are fortunate to have a world-class Mason & Hamlin concert grand piano. It is a magnificent instrument in perfect condition and is often requested for piano recitals held at the Meeting House. When appropriate it is used to accompany vocal music in the services. However, by tradition the organ is the main “voice of the church” and is heard nowhere else but in church worship. Its sound is rare, precious and mighty. It adorns and exalts worship on Sundays. And, since the Meetinghouse has chosen to hold services every Sunday throughout the summer, the more informal atmosphere of these services lends itself to more frequent use of the piano in the summer to present some “light Classics” for piano.