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.
Heidi Blythe, Music Director
Heidi has directed the University UCC Music Program since 2007. Heidi received her Bachelor of Arts in Music from Smith College, studying pipe organ with Grant Moss and voice with Jane Bryden. She received her Master of Music from the University of Michigan as a conducting student of Jerry Blackstone and Sandra Snow and a voice student of John Gillas and John Charles Pierce. Heidi was awarded a research fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, studying American musicals and popular culture. At the University of Michigan, Heidi studied hand drumming in the Ghanaian tradition with master drummer Antoinette Kudoto, and she was awarded a fellowship to study comparative music systems in Ghana and Bulgaria. Heidi is committed to a music program that reflects both the traditions of the Western European canon and of those of other times, places, cultures and religions.
Heidi is influenced by the work of John L. Bell of the Iona community in Scotland. She enjoys creating music opportunities that can truly be considered congregational. These opportunities have taken different forms – combining existing groups to present a piece in worship; creating mentoring and performance opportunities for instrumentalists of all ages and abilities; inviting the congregation to join in special pieces, rehearsed and spontaneous; and generally eliminating barriers to participation.
Heidi lives in Seattle with her husband Owen and children Felix (6) and Oscar (3).
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 get in touch with Music Director Heidi Blythe by email or phone (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 chor provides music for worship three Sundays per month except during June, July and August. Rehearsals are held Tuesday afternoons, Thursday evenings and Sunday mornings before worship. Choir members are expected to attend one weekday rehearsal in addition to the Sunday morning pre-worship session.
Anyone who wishes to join the choir is welcome, and a formal audition is not required, though it is often helpful to meet with Heidi to review vocal range and musical background. The ability to read music is helpful but not required.
The Children’s Choir sings three or four times a year in service and practices before service from 9 to 10 am. 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 moc.liamg@negietlehcar.
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? Call or email Music Director Heidi Blythe (206-534-2322 or gro.ccuytisrevinu@ehtylbh.)
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? Call or email Music Director Heidi Blythe (206-534-2322 or gro.ccuytisrevinu@ehtylbh.)
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 moc.liamg@86naejarual.
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 moc.liamg@notlefdainigriv)
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 Music Director Heidi Blythe at 206-524-2322 or email her at gro.ccuytisrevinu@ehtylbh.