Music and Choir
Please visit FUUSB During COVID to learn about more opportunities to become involved in our community!
Our Director of Music, James Stewart, also works at Vermont Public Radio and produces a podcast called Timeline. Here’s a sample of his podcast that weaves together music and social justice:
Music at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of Burlington reflects the diversity of our community, our city, and our world. It is an important and enriching part of life at FUUSB.
Our music program honors the talents of adult and children’s choir members, our staff musicians, and guest musicians. Our Colby organ traces its pipe-work to its 1853 Johnson predecessor, and our sanctuary piano adds its inspiration to our services. Whether you are a listener, choral singer, vocalist, worshiper, instrumentalist, visitor or member, music accompanies you in your spiritual journey with us in our lovely New England sanctuary. We encourage you to contribute your talents to our music-making!
We have two highly accomplished keyboard players on our staff. Dr. Wayne Schneider, Professor Emeritus at the University of Vermont, is the organist, and Sam Whitesell is the staff pianist. Both musicians are highly versatile as each play a diversity of musical genres in worship.
For more information on how to get involved in our Music Ministry, please read the information below and/or email James Stewart, Director of Music, at [email protected].
About Our Choirs:
We have three Choirs: an Adult Choir (SATB) ensemble, a Community Chorus, and a Children’s Choir. Please note that our Community Chorus and our Children’s Choir are currently on hiatus.
The Adult Choir rehearses every Wednesday, September through mid-June, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. It is an SATB (4-part mixed) ensemble that sings a breadth of repertoire, from classical to gospel to world music. No audition is required, and you do not need to know how to read music, but a good ear for matching pitch is desirable as is a joy for music-making! The Choir typically sings in service every other Sunday.
Community Chorus (Currently on Hiatus):
The Community Chorus is a multigenerational chorus which all children and adults are welcome to join. The Chorus sings music along the lines of peace and protest songs in unison or in simple harmony. Typical songs include “I’ve Got Peace Like a River” and “This Land is Your Land.” We embrace a diversity of musical traditions and enjoy music-making in a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere. No audition is required, nor is the ability to read music.
Children’s Choir (Currently on Hiatus):
We welcome all children in grades K-8 to join the Children’s Choir. No audition nor prior experience is required, just a love for singing! The Children’s Choir sings all kinds of music – spirituals, classical music, and music from around the world. Rehearsals are in seasonal groupings in the fall, winter, and spring. The Children’s Choir will typically sing about 3-4 times per year in service.
About Our Organ
Our Colby organ was dedicated in 2006, just a year after a successful fundraising effort to provide an organ for this century. It’s the fifth one in use in the Meeting House. The first was purchased in Boston and transported here by sleigh at the time the Meeting House was built. It was replaced in 1845 by an organ built by Henry Erben of New York.
In 1863, a Johnson organ was installed, said to be one of the finest organs in the country and one of the largest. The Johnson served faithfully for ninety years before it was replaced in 1954 by an Austin organ. Pipes from the Johnson were utilized in the Austin, and these pipes were again installed in the present Colby organ, thus maintaining a musical connection extending back to the Civil War era.
Consisting of three manuals plus pedal, over 1100 pipes in two divisions, and enhanced by modern digital technology, the organ provides support for congregational singing, enrichment of services, weddings and memorials, and opportunity for virtuoso concert performances.