The long tradition of an outstanding Music Program at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley continues under the leadership of Dr. Bryan Baker, Director of Music; and Michèle Voillequé, Youth and Children’s Choir Director, and Katya Kolesnikov, principal organist. Groups in the Music Program are the Chancel Choir (Luminescence), the Youth & Children’s Choir, the Folk Ensemble, Gamelan Ensemble and the Eclectic Songsters.
The Music Program sponsors a series of Music Events throughout the church year. Choral, vocal and instrumental concerts are supported by outstanding facilities at UUCB. The church’s extraordinary wealth of keyboard instruments includes two first-rate pianos, a nine-foot Yamaha concert grand and a Chickering baby grand, a fine harpsichord, and a magnificent Aeolian Skinner organ. The sound of these instruments, and all music, is enriched by the excellent acoustics of the 450-seat sanctuary. The Social Hall has a small stage where plays, musicals and ala-carte performances are often held, and the Atrium has a lively sound for more intimate gatherings.
Luminescence, the 45-voice Chancel Choir, sings a varied and ambitious repertoire in services, meeting Thursday nights and most Sunday mornings from September through May. Each December we host a Messiah Sing-Along, and each year we present several musicals and concerts.
Daniel Schmidt, director
Meets Thursdays, from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m.
$10 per class. All are welcome at anytime.
Gamelan is a pitched-percussion musical ensemble originating in Java and Bali. It is easy to learn for non-musicians. The experience of playing gamelan is very communal, with all players playing similar parts. The repertoire used at UUCB is drawn from Java, and includes western compositions of similar nature. The music has a meditative quality for all to enjoy.
Daniel has been teaching gamelan for 30 years. A composer and musical instrument builder, he teaches at Mills College and Aurora School. His compositions are often used by the Gamelan Ensemble. He is presently composer in residence at UUCB.
Daniel teaches gamelan as an accessible art form, believing that it is the perfect music for beginners. There is also lots of challenge for people with a musical background. Anyone interested may drop in on Thursdays and try it out. For more information, call Daniel at 510-334-1334.
Our Youth and Children’s Choir offers elementary through high schoolers the opportunity to experience themselves as music-makers, as peace-makers, and as collaborative visionaries and creative worship leaders.
Members of the Choir learn not only to sing and play percussion instruments, but also to listen for and respect each person's unique gifts, including their own.
Giving Voice to the Soul
An evening's worth of reality television might convince you that singing is something people do only to win prizes, recording contracts, and personal recognition. Yet singing is a fundamental means of expression. It’s everyone’s birthright and an important tool for building human relationships. We sing to soothe babies to sleep and to comfort the dying. We sing to honor our country, beloved friends, and sacred ideals. When we sing together, we connect with one another at a soul level. We can feel completely unharried, completely present. Children need singing as much as they need arithmetic and, well taught, they will sing throughout their lives – to comfort, to honor, to connect.
About Our Music
We learn folk, classical, and popular songs in unison and two-to three-part harmony, often arranging them to make them our own. We prepare choral readings and practice good speaking, as well as good singing habits. We create original melodies using xylophones and tone bars. We incorporate drums and body percussion whenever possible.
We often sing a cappella, or accompany ourselves with xylophones and tone bars. Sometimes we’re joined by a guitar player, a mandolin player, or both. Once or twice a year, we collaborate with Bryan Baker and the adult choir, singing as a “choir within a choir.” Working in different kinds of ensembles not only meets the singers' self-expressed need for variety, but also strengthens the group’s overall musicianship.
Joining the Choir
The Choir is open to all children and youth, ages 5 ½ and up. Prior musical experience is not required. We rehearse at 10 a.m. on Sunday mornings, September through May, in the Safir Room. We help lead the Sunday worship service once or twice per month. Occasionally we participate in other music events. We would love to have you join us. For more information, contact Michèle Voillequé.
Children of all ages who are interested in other music performance opportunities may contact Dr. Bryan Baker, our Director of Music, to discuss solo or small-group auditions.
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