Music & Choir
Music is an important part of our worship and congregational life. Our pianist provides a valuable ministry every Sunday during the services. Our choir prepares a wide variety of special music for the services. We also have several other musical groups, including an old time string band and a gospel/rock band, and talented members and children perform during worship services.
We have an all-volunteer choir, and everyone is welcome! We sing music from many centuries and cultures, in many languages and styles. The choir not only enriches our spiritual experience with music on Sunday morning but also does important social outreach to the larger community. We have performed at prisons, community events, and memorial services, including September 11 memorials, Holocaust memorial services, the AIDS Quilt Display, Habitat for Humanity builds, and even the Mayor’s Inaugural. The choir also frequently collaborates with other community music organizations, including the Bloomington Symphony and the Bloomington Community Band.
The choir rehearses on Thursday evenings, 7:00-8:30 p.m. mid-August through May, and childcare is available by request.
Contact Music Director Susan Swaney: email@example.com
From time to time we will post links here to helpful rehearsal recordings, schedules for upcoming special rehearsals, and other details useful to members of our Choir. Choir members, if you can’t get these links to work, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Choir rehearses on Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. Contact Susan Swaney at email@example.com for additional information.
Bach Dona Nobis Pacem
Jill Courtney directed our Children's Choir for 19 years. As of the summer of 2023, she has stepped down from this position to prioritize other parts of her life. We hope you enjoy reading her reflections on her history with our church and what she'll be focusing her energy on moving forward.
Note from Susan Swaney, our Music Director:
We have been so very lucky to have Jill making music with our children for 19 years! She is an enormous asset to our church, and we won’t try to replace her. Instead, we will have a time of discernment about what to do in the future. In the meantime, we will have some opportunities for “Family Choir,” where people of all ages can join the choir on a Sunday to learn and rehearse a piece to perform together at that week’s service. Keep a lookout for announcements!
In the early 2000’s, after growing up in a United Methodist church, I walked through the doors of UUCB as an adult and knew right away it was home. Reusable coffee mugs! Liberal religious community! And the icing on the cake, Sue Swaney was directing the fabulous choir! At heart, I think I had always aligned with Unitarian Universalism, but I had to find my way here on my own as a “grown up.” As a lifelong musician and music teacher by profession, the music aspect of my church experience has always been important to me, and UUCB is so rich with music! I was thrilled to find my place in the choir. Not long after I became a member, it happened that our church was looking for a children’s choir music director. I had worked under Sue before in the IU Children’s Choir, so I happily accepted the position. I’m grateful to Sue for entrusting me with this role, because it was a joyous 19 years of working with the young singers in our congregation. 19 years filled with beautiful voices, and wonderful collaborations in special programs like Boom!, All You Need is Love, The Lorax, Hymnody of Earth, and more. Many years of gifts of music for the beautiful Solstice and Equinox services, as well as Earth Day, Water, and Flower Communion services. And then the pandemic, when I learned how to assemble pre-recorded gifts of music, which was a challenge but also an absolute joy; truly one of the most fulfilling things I did during those difficult times.
What some may not know, is that all during these years, I have been teaching full-time public school elementary music, the job I knew I wanted to do since I was very young. Growing up in Bloomington, I was so fortunate to have the best musical experiences and mentors to help me achieve that dream. It is a fulfilling but very demanding job, and now as I head into year 27 of teaching, my life also includes chauffeuring my children to their many extracurricular activities. This leaves very few precious hours for true self care and family time, and as I get older, I find myself needing to prioritize my time outside of work in different ways. Though the decision was not easy, I knew it was time for me to let go of directing the beloved UU Children’s Choir.
Please know that the timing of this decision is wholly my own, and is not related to any staff or leadership transitions at our church. I have no doubt that there will still be a place for the children and youth of our church to contribute their voices, even if it looks different than it did during my time as Children’s Choir director. I love our UUCB dearly, and I look forward to a long future of this being a place for me and my family to grow, to seek the spirit, and be in community. One of the first priorities for my spiritual health is to re-join the Adult Choir, which I haven’t been able to do since my children were born, and have missed so dearly. Family time, yoga, gardening, and sound healing also all join the list of things that feed my soul, and deserve more of my time. And every once in a while, I’m looking forward to having enough time to just sit down on my deck and listen to the birds sing!
It has been an absolute privilege to work with the children’s choir, and I will always cherish their beautiful voices and personalities. As a teacher of young children, I don’t always get to see where their paths will lead, but it’s such a joy when I run into singers I have worked with who are all grown up now and shining their lights in the world, knowing we shared some special musical times together in the past. One of my favorite bumper sticker messages is “Plant Seeds and Sing Songs,” which is something I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to do for so many years with the UU Children’s Choir, and will continue to do in other ways on my life journey.
- Musically yours, Jill Courtney
The Ray of Sunshine CD
We have extra copies of the recently released Ray of Sunshine CD, with our very gifted pianist Ray Fellman playing selections of the music he often plays for our services. This recording was made in winter 2021 in our sanctuary, with our Steinway. Click here to order copies for yourself and your friends, while supplies last! The $ amount to enter is $25 x the number of CDs you would like, and we will mail them to you. (examples: $50 for 2 CDs, $100 for 4 CDs, etc.) If you are not a part of our congregation, after payment please email us your mailing address, to firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds from this fundraiser will benefit our congregation.