It connects us to our inner, divine essence. It transcends religion, generation, and genre. And when it's created from the heart, it expresses something fundamental and universal about our place and meaning in this world.
As an integral part of the service, Sunday's hymns and music - from one of our four choirs or a talented guest musician - are always of the highest musical quality and enhance the sermon's theme.
Two or three Sundays each month, the Adult Choir fills UUCR's services with uplifting and sacred music - from ancient Celtic tunes to American folk music, from religious standards to modern rock. Choir rehearsals are lighthearted yet rigorous, which means that our singers have fun and produce some awe-inspiring sound! We welcome senior high schoolers and adults of any age and any musical ability, and there are no auditions necessary to join. We rehearse weekly on Thursday nights (September - June) from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The Adult Choir is conducted by our Director of Music.
The Children's Choir has a hoot-hollerin' good time singing in the Sunday service a few times during the program year. Accompanied by guitar or piano, and sometimes using sign language or dancing, these pre-K through 5th-graders know how to delight a crowd! For several weeks before each time we sing, we rehearse on Sundays after the service from 11:20-11:50 a.m. in Room 52. The Children's Choir is directed by Barbara Weis.
Unisons is a youth ensemble for kids in the 6th to 8th grade age range. They meet on Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and work both on songs to sing in the Sunday service and musicianship skills. Unisons sings on Sunday morning 4-5 times per year. The group is led by Samantha Buckley.
Sonaria brings the power of the female voice to Sunday services and other UUCR events. This women's ensemble performs a variety of more roots-based music. We welcome teens and women to rehearse twice a month after the Sunday service from 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in Room 44. Sonaria is directed by Cynthia Shires-Thurston.
Special Sunday Music
Share your talent! In addition to our four choirs singing in Sunday services, we turn to solo musicians and small ensembles for our musical worship experience. We're on the lookout for musicians to share their gifts at occasional services throughout the year and at each service during the summer.
Want to join us? To learn more about all of UUCR's ensembles and special music program, contact our Director of Music, Grace Cho.
On the fourth Sunday of the month, from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m., UUCR hosts a drum circle in the Sanctuary. All are welcome to this communal music-making and meditation event – no experience necessary! We have some percussion instruments available and you are welcome to bring your own. To learn more, contact Christin Green at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuba Noodle Casserole
Each December and occasionally throughout the year, instrumentalists in our congregation form a pick-up band. In just a few rehearsals, we'll put together music so we can jam at UUCR's "Getting Ready for the Holidays" and other events. Mike Holmes coordinates the band.
Our Director of Music: Grace Cho
Grace joined UUCR in the fall of 2016 as Director of Music. She was born and raised in South Korea and came to the States in August of 2001 to pursue a master’s degree in piano performance at the University of Texas at Austin. Grace relocated to the Washington, DC, area in 2004 to pursue a doctorate degree in collaborative piano at the University of Maryland in College Park and since then has been active in the DC music scene, building a versatile career covering choral conducting, piano performance, vocal and instrumental coaching, and music entrepreneurship.
Grace is the Executive Director, pianist, and co-founder of the New Orchestra of Washington (NOW), one of Washington DC’s most vibrant and innovative orchestras. Under the leadership of Grace and her husband, NOW’s Artistic Director Dr. Alejandro Hernandez-Valdez, the orchestra has achieved rapid success as a one-of-a-kind ensemble.
In the summer of 2015, as the couple welcomed their first child, Santiago, Grace and Alejandro accepted coveted positions in Manhattan. Alejandro was appointed Director of Music of the historic Unitarian Church of All Souls and Artistic Director of Musica Viva and Grace accepted the position of Executive Director of Musica Viva. The family now splits their time between New York City and Washington DC.
Our Pianist: Justin Furnia
Justin Furnia graduated from Hood College in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in music (Piano Performance). There, he was a piano student of Dr. Noel Lester and was a recipient of the Patricia Bucheimer Piano Prize. He was also under scholarship as a student in the Honors Program and a Maryland Distinguished Scholar. In 2006 and 2009, he was featured as a Sidney Silverman Young Artist in the college’s Summer Chamber Music Festival. In 2008, he participated as a pianist in the Brevard Music Center Festival. Justin also works as an accompanist and pianist and teaches piano in Frederick and Rockville.
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