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Welcome to the music program at First Church! Our six choirs are an essential part of worship here, leading the congregation in praise and thanksgiving to God through music, often accompanied by our Schoenstein & Co., Opus. 148 Organ. You are invited to participate in the wonderful joy of “prayer through song.” Any of you who may be thinking about joining one of our groups to contact us, or simply come to one of our rehearsals--everyone is welcome!

Cherub choir of kintergarten through first graders singing during worship

Cherub Choir

This group is for children in Kindergarten through first grade. Led by Peggy Hartman, Cherub Choir meets on Sunday mornings from 11:00 – 11:30 am. This is our youngest singing group and they participate in church services several times each year. The children learn early musical skills through songs, movements, and games.

Caroler Choir

This group of second and third graders meets Wednesday afternoons from 4:45 – 5:30 pm. The Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) program for chorister training is introduced with this choir. This program allows the children to work their way through various levels and ribbons. Level 1 (Light Blue Ribbon) teaches early music and vocal skills through rhythmic games and solfege (vocal practice using syllabic scales) and rudimentary Christian Education. The Orff instruments, which are percussion instruments such as the tambourine and xylophone, are introduced at this age, and choir members learn to accompany simple anthems with instruments. The children also learn to use the hymnal and participate in the leadership of church services.

Caroler choir of second and third graders singing during worship
Cantate choir of fourth through sixth graders sitting in the Meetinghouse

Cantate Choir

This choir of children in grades 4 through 6 sings monthly at church services and at special services, such as Lessons and Carols and the Choir Concert. The RSCM is continued with further emphasis on Level 2 (Dark Blue Ribbon) incorporating more advanced vocal and rhythmic skills and Christian Education. The Orff instruments are used regularly. Cantate Choir attends a summer choir camp in August as well as various choir trips throughout the year. In 2001, members of this choir participated with the Chancel and Cantabile Choirs in the First Church Choir Tour to England and sang evensong services at the renowned cathedrals of Ely, Ripon, and Yorkminster. The Cantate Choir rehearses together with the Cantabile Choir members on Thursday afternoons from 4:00 – 5:00 pm, and “Ribbon Work” sessions as part of the RSCM program.

Chancel Choir

The Chancel Choir is our adult choir which sings weekly at the 10:00 am (or main) service and special services throughout the year. Rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. Highlights are the annual Service of Lessons and Carols and the Spring Choir Concert, for which the choir usually prepares a major work with organ or orchestra. Members of this choir participated in the 2001 First Church choir tour to England. Their evensong performances were inspirational. The choir’s repertoire includes a wide variety of music from 16th century anthems to African-American spirituals. Major works include the Brahms’ Requiem, the Rutter Requiem and Gloria, The Vivaldi Gloria, the Schubert Mass in G, The Seasonings by PDQ Bach, Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, and the Connecticut premiere of Laudes Organi by Kodaly.

Chancel choir members holding candels in the church
Mallet ringers holding handbells in the sanctuary

Mallet Ringers

Our jubilant youth bell choir, directed by Peggy Hartman, is for youth and young adults from grades 5 through 12. Rudimentary music skills are required for participation. This choir will focus on beginning bell techniques, intermediate rhythms and music reading and will play at worship services throughout the year as well as participate in the Annual Handbell Festival at St. Joseph Church in Willimantic. There is an 11-person limit. Rehearsals are on Thursday evenings from 5:00 – 6:00 pm and regular attendance is required.

Jubilate Ringers

This adult choir, directed by Peggy Hartman, performs several times throughout the year at church services and special occasions. Rehearsals are held on Tuesday evenings from 7:00 – 8:30 pm. Using four octaves of Schulmerich Bells, four octaves of hand chimes and state of the art equipment, the group plays a varied repertoire. Music reading skills are helpful for this group, but not essential. This choir actively participates in Bell Festivals sponsored by the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers (AGEHR) and the American Guild of Organists (AGO).

Jubilate ringers playing handbells during worship
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