Faith is born and lives in song
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3:16)
The ministry of music is a vital part of University Congregational UCC. With our long-standing choral ensembles at its center, our thriving program supports over 150 participants – a significant percentage of regularly attending members. We embrace both trained and developing musicians in both formal and informal settings.
Our congregation enjoys a 40-rank pipe organ recently refurbished by Richard Bond; newly renovated sanctuary acoustics; a Steinway Model B grand piano and a large set of Remo hand drums and percussion.
At the heart of worship services and fellowship gatherings, music is a central vehicle of prayer, praise, welcome and affirmation. In the spirit of memory, thanksgiving and hope, we sing, play, dance and drum with the belief in the power of the arts to inspire, affirm, and transform.
For the individual musician, the language of music is often as powerful as the word. As we present the vast repertoire of sacred and meaningful music—from Bach to Brubeck, from South Africa to New South Wales, from our own Christian roots to communion with others of different traditions–we learn to understand and appreciate various ways of playing, dancing and singing the sacred.
Benjamin Rogers is the new Interim Music Director at University Congregational UCC. Benjamin grew up in rural Savanna, IL, and recently relocated to Tacoma from the Quad Cities area. Benjamin graduated from Western Illinois University in the fall of 2018 with a Bachelors of Music in Music Education.
Outside of his work at University Congregational UCC, Benjamin is the choir director and general music teacher at Liberty Middle School in Spanaway, WA. Affiliated with his work as a teacher, Benjamin serves as a vocal instructor as part of the Vivace! Choral Program. Benjamin also sings as a freelance baritone with SoundCity Singers, a new choir performing in the Puget Sound area. Benjamin is an escape room enthusiast, enjoys hiking, creating music, and spending time with his cat, Daphne.
David Nichols, Organ and Keyboards
David has been organist at University Congregational UCC since 2008. His watchword is versatility. David’s first teacher, a graduate of Boston Conservatory, started him at age five on the usual study of Bach, Beethoven, and the other great classical composers. By the end of high school, he was playing styles from classical to musical theater to jazz and rock. Meanwhile, he was playing piano and organ at church and singing in the choir with directors and organists including B. R. Henson and Emmet Smith, both from the faculty of Texas Christian University. He has studied organ with Dr. Linda Raney, a graduate of Indiana University, and has attended workshops with other prominent organists. David is currently the Treasurer of the Seattle chapter of the American Guild of Organists.
Along the way, David added gospel and other contemporary styles to his repertoire. Drawing on this varied background, he developed his own ways to highlight the progression of ideas in hymns. One of David’s specialties is in creating inventive duets for piano and organ – which he plays by recording the organ part and performing the piano part live. David is influenced by organist and composer David Cherwien, author of “Let the People Sing!” This influence shows in David’s exceptional leadership from the organ, and the confident and joyful singing of the congregation.
Interested in joining us?
If you are interested in joining a vocal ensemble or would like to explore other opportunities to join in music-making, please phone the office. (206-524-2322). The opportunities below offer details about various opportunities that might be of interest. Click on the plus sign (+) at the right of each title to open that section and learn more.
Members of the University UCC Chancel Choir sing together, support each other through joys and sorrows and often form deep and lasting friendships. The choir generally provides music for worship three Sundays per month from September to June. During this time of distancing, rehearsals are held Thursday evenings via Zoom. Music is learned at rehearsals, and many members practice their parts on their own time as well. At this time, each choir member video/records their own part, and submits it electronically. Benjamin takes all the pieces and creates the magic – which everyone enjoys on Sunday mornings from the comfort of home.
New choir members are very welcome! A formal audition is not required, though it is often helpful to meet with Benjamin to review vocal range and musical background. The ability to read music is helpful but not required – nor is experience with recording or computers.
The Children’s Choir sings three or four times a year in service and practices before service from 9 to 10 am. During this time of distancing, copies of the music and online rehearsals are held for several weeks ahead of the Choir singing for a church service.
The choir is directed by Rachel Teigen Bracket, an experienced elementary school music teacher and church member. If you are interested in introducing your child to vocal music through this entry-level music experience, please call Rachel at 206-234-5025 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Currently on hiatus) Virititas is a women’s choir ideal for those whose busy schedules do not allow for weekly choir practice. Viriditas sings three or four times a year. Practices are often after church services in the choir room for two or three weeks preceding a service that Viriditas takes part in. Interested? Email Interim Music Director Benjamin Rogers at MusicDirector@UniversityUCC.org.
Sacred Groove Drum Ensemble
Do you enjoy rhythm and enjoy tapping your feet to the beat. Perhaps the Sacred Groove Drum Ensemble is for you. University UCC’s drums are often used in worship, and ensemble members get together ahead of time to learn the music and practice. Interested in drumming with the group? Email Interim Music Director Benjamin Rogers at MusicDirector@UniversityUCC.org.
Hand Bell Choir
University UCC owns a fine collection of hand bells, which are often an important part of our service music. The Hand Bell Choir features as many as 20 members and performs regularly, both augmenting pieces sung by the Chancel Choir and providing pieces written for hand bells alone. The choir is directed by church member Laura Jean Miller, with assistance from member Margaret Foster. Prior experience with hand bells is welcome but not required.
Interested in exloring membership in the Hand Bell Choir? Contact Laura Jean Miller at 207-210-7354 or email her at email@example.com.
Consort Spiritus Recorder Ensemble
Consort Spiritus is an informal recorder ensemble for intermediate-level recorder players. Membership is currently at five players. Practice schedules vary, depending on members’ schedules. The ensemble comprises a range of recorder types, from bass to sopranino, and plays a range of music, from Renaissance and Baroque pieces written expressly for recorders to modern pieces arranged and transcribed by Kirk Kassner, our resident arranger. The group generally participates in one service per year during the Chancel Choir’s summer hiatus.
Interested in joining Consort Spiritus? Call or email Virginia Felton (206-979-7539 or firstname.lastname@example.org)
Other Opportunities for Music-Making
University UCC welcomes participation by musicians at all levels and abilities. Instrumental and vocal soloists often provide music in worship during the summer, and opportunities for instrumentalists arise frequently. If you are interested in participating occasionally in music at University UCC, please contact Interim Music Director Benjamin Rogers at MusicDirector@UniversityUCC.org.