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Spotlight on Music – A Year in Review

By April 30, 2024No Comments

Looking back over the 2023-24 Music Season, I’m struck by the joyful resilience of this community. Through many changes, St. John’s musicians keep showing up – to study, practice and grow together, developing skills and confidence as performers and colleagues, as worship leaders and as humans in the world.

Last summer the community worshiped together in the Parish Hall while the organ was unavailable, awaiting repair. Music in the Parish Hall sounds different than in the Sanctuary. The acoustic in these two spaces is entirely different from one another – requiring adjustments to the musician’s sonic expectations. St. John’s Service Choir rose to the challenge, leading community song weekly. Thanks to grill meister Ed Schaefer, we held an inaugural All Choirs Reunion potluck in the Parish Hall on June 28 to celebrate our rich and diverse ensembles < Insert heart emoji here >.

The fall of 2023 saw the community return to our beloved Sanctuary space. Service Choirs sang at 8:30am and 10:30am on Sundays. Children’s Choirs and Chime Choir rallied after their summer break and blessed us once again with their Angel music on Sunday mornings and during Choir night dinners and practices. Final Friday Open Mic Event attendance exploded. Young pianists were featured performers during Sunday worship. The Feast of Saint Francis inspired a small group to gather on the Bell Tower steps to celebrate their animals and touch passersby on a perfect blue October Sunday afternoon. The Festival Choir sang it’s heart out on All Saints’ Sunday. And the organ roared once again!

On December 3rd we held space for a Sunday afternoon Advent Evensong in the Chancel, thanks to Diaconal Intern Colleen Swope. Sunday, December 10th brought our annual Service of Loss and Remembrance, reconvening a favorite group of singer-worship leaders to serve a welcome congregation. On Sunday, December 17th a full-scale Children’s Christmas Pageant production filled the Sanctuary to overflowing with child actors, children’s choir, dancing angels, and congregational song, thanks to CYF Minister Heather Miller and Children’s Choir Director / Angel Choreographer Wendy Smith! Finally, Christmas came – with its carols, anthems, and a Silent Night fulfilled.

With the new year, 2024 brought a shift from two to one Sunday morning service. Two Service Choirs blended into one Sunday worship gathering. Children’s Choirs and Chime Choir sang and played each month January through March. Diaconal Intern Colleen Swope led another Sunday afternoon Evensong in February. The Festival Choir sang on Palm Sunday and were joined by Brass and Timpani for Easter!

Spring brings season finales: On Friday, April 24th we held our final Open Mic Event of the 2023-24 season. The program included kids singing, playing piano, cello, and looping clarinet; and dads singing and playing guitar. There was a wonderful reading from Grethen Pickeral and dad jokes from Scott Maida!

On Sunday morning, May 12, we’ll wrap up Children’s Choirs and Chime Choir programs with performances during the 10am service. We can never forget our deep gratitude for these musicians and their supportive caregivers. On that Sunday we’ll recognize our volunteer Choir Cooks and helpers who have faithfully supported the program throughout the year!

Finally, on May 19, the Festival Choir and local New Orleans Ragtime band, Southside Aces will be sure to bring spirited music befitting The Day of Pentecost!

And with that, we’re back to Summer at St. John’s, Worship in the Park @ Beard’s Plaisance on Sunday, June 23, another ALL Choirs Reunion on June 26 and Worship at the Lake Harriet Bandshell on Sunday, August 4!

Throughout the season, musicians of all ages and skill level brought their music to a grateful community – inviting all present to lift their songs of praise and devotion in reply. The sweet forever sounds of congregational song, choral ensembles, accordion, guitar, trumpet, trombone, viola, cello, piano, organ, shruti box, clarinet, oboe, timpani, chimes, and children singing are ringing in my ears.

Ever grateful for this community,


May 2024