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Music and Choir

MUSIC has always been central to the life of the Congregational Church in Exeter. In our worship, we seek to offer music that is substantial, enduring, and trustworthy. We believe that music engages the head as well as the heart. Offered to the glory of God, it expresses the yearnings of our faith, and consoles, strengthens, and deepens us for the living of our days.

We are blessed with a gifted and committed senior choir, a devoted senior bell choir, and two spirited choirs for children: a junior choir and junior bell choir. The church's organ, a 1951 three-manual, 19- rank Aeolian Skinner, is one of the last examples of a company of American pipe organs known for its liveliness and versatility. All of these, as examples and participants, support the hymn singing of the whole congregation. And our singing of hymns brings us together as nothing else can.

As a member of this congregation, you are already involved and invested in music and worship! Our church is filled with all kinds of musical talent from hymn-singers to jazz players to folk guitarists to classical instrumentalists. We invite you to consider becoming a part of one of our musical groups.

The Senior Choir sings at 10:00 services almost every Sunday, except in the summer, when we rely on soloists and other smaller groupings. Regular rehearsals are on Thursdays from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., and there is a warm-up and brief rehearsal on Sunday mornings at 9:00 a.m.

The Senior Bell Choir rehearses Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and plays on Sunday mornings during the 10:00 service as often as the members and director decide. The choir plays a four-octave set of English handbells.

The Children's Choir meets to rehearse on Sunday mornings in the Chapel, and sings during the 10:00 service at intervals throughout the year. Children of all ages are invited to sing in the children's choir.

The Children's Bell Choir meets to rehearse on Sunday evenings and plays during 10:00 Sunday services at intervals throughout the year. Children must be in grade one or above to participate in the bell choir.

The church has an Aeolian Skinner pipe organ, built in 1951. On special occasions such as Christmas and Easter, it is augmented by other instruments, such as brass ensembles.

Congregational hymn singing is an essential part of our worship. The church uses both the Pilgrim Hymnal, and the New Century Hymnal, newly published by the United Church of Christ.

Sarah Brink, our Music Director, plays our Aeolian Skinner pipe organ and directs the Senior Choir and Senior Bell Choir. She recently moved to Exeter from Brooklyn, NY, where she was the Associate Music Director, Organist, and Children's Choir Director at the prestigious Oratory Church of St. Philip Neri at St. Boniface. She has performed extensively as organist and harpsichordist throughout the Northeast, and with groups such as Pomerium Musices, Banchetto Musicale, Hesperus and her own group, Phoenix. In 1990, she received her Masters of Arts in Theology from the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception in Huntington, NY which complements her music degrees from the New England Conservatory of Music and her European Studies with Luigi Tagliavini, Gustave Leonhardt and Harold Vogel. Sarah is also building a studio of piano students.

Jocelyn Lister directs the Children's Choir and Children's Bell Choir, and she plays the organ in our Chapel She has been involved with music since grade five when she first took piano lessons. In addition to the piano, she is learning how to play the organ, and has an avid interest in all kinds of music especially opera, jazz, classical music and musicals. Jocelyn has been involved with the Leddy Center musicals where she was a member of the chorus. The most memorable character part that she portrayed was a gander--not a goose--in the production of"Charlotte's Web." She has sung with a variety of choral groups, and plays the piano for pleasure as often as possible.

Luanne Wilczynski helps to lead the Children's Choir and provides guitar accompaniment. She lives in Exeter with her husband Dave and her old, loud, deaf cat Kitter. She has been playing guitar since she was 10, and singing since she could talk. The family joke was that Mom (Lu Gundersen) had Luanne, her fourth child, so that they could move from three- to four-part harmony. At the age of 12 Luanne began assisting her mother with song-leading at churches, retreats, camps and an occasional protest. Since then she has gained many years of experience as a song-leader and performer in Boston, New Hampshire and Rhode Island as both a volunteer and professional musician. A beloved 8th-grade music teacher once gave her a bracelet inscribed: "Luanne, keep giving your music, you're giving yourself." That is her plan. Helping to lead the children's choir is her favorite extracurricular activity.