MUSIC AT UUSF

UUSF's robust music ministries are open to all and enjoyed by everyone. 
Auditions are not required for any of the groups but a short interview is recommended.

​Email info@uusf.org to inquire

 
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UUSF CHOIR

Under the direction of Dr. Mark Sumner, the adult choir performs from a large repertoire of classical, liturgical, and modern music approximately three Sundays each month with summers off. The annual schedule includes special holiday music, a spring concert of a major work with orchestra, and performances with the combined choirs of other Bay Area UU congregations. We welcome new musicians of all abilities and at any time. 

Rehearsals: Each Thursday evening, September thru May, from 7:15 to 9:30PM in Macondray Hall at the UUSF Center (downstairs from the garage) .

To join; Contact Dr. Mark Sumner
Email: sngwtme@gmail.com

Phone: 415-309-0150
You can also stop by on a Thursday evening and see for yourself how wonderful it is to lift your voice in song!

 
 
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ORGAN

Installed in 1967, the Noehren Organ was the lifetime dream of Minister of Music Emeritus Alex Post, in whose honor our Music Fund is named. Under the talented fingers (and feet) of organist Reiko Oda Lane, uplifting and spiritual music is performed nearly every Sunday. It is also used at weddings and during concerts throughout the year. The world-class organ is an important part of our church heritage.

Contact Reiko Oda Lane at 415-776-4580, extension 282 for an “inside peek” at this marvelous instrument.

Reiko Oda Lane, Organist: Reiko Oda Lane became the organist in 1997, and has a reputation as one of the Bay Area’s finest organists. Reiko received her training at the Peabody Conservatory and holds the Conservatory’s prestigious Artist Diploma.

 

JUBILATION: DIDN'T MY LORD DELIVER DANIEL?

Performed by Reiko Oda Lane

by Carleton Inniss

 

BELL ANTHEM

Performed by the UUSF Bell Choir

 
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BELL CHOIR

Organist Reiko Oda Lane conducts the four-octave Bell Choir, a recent addition to the music program. The Bell Choir performs at selected services each church year.

Each Thursday evening from 5:45 PM to 7PM.

The Bell choir is open to new members at any time. For more information,

contact Reiko Oda Lane at 415-776-4580, extension 282.

 
 
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PROFESSIONAL MUSICIANS

SHARE YOUR TALENTS

Once a month and throughout the summer, professional musicians provide music for the 11am Sunday worship service. The UU staff and congregation is proud of the consistent quality and wide diversity of the musicians we attract to our space. If you are interested or know of a musician or ensemble that would enhance one of our services, please notify Mark Sumner 415-776-4580 x252.


Many arrangements with professional musicians and music groups often involves reserving space in the UU center. Mark Sumner coordinates arrangements involving trading space for a worship service appearance. All other rental arrangements must be made with Susana Bernahola 415-776-4580 x202

MUSIC COMMITTEE

Meets Once a Month

The Music Committee is a regular committee of UUSF and meets about once a month. The purpose of the committee is to promote the excellence of music programs at UUSF and support the Director of Music. Music Committee members can be contacted at any time for more information about the music programs at UUSF.

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HISTORY

A Brief History of the Music Program

Music has been an indispensable part of this church's spiritual life from the beginning: when a group of men gathered on October 20, 1850 for the first Unitarian service in San Francisco, "Joseph Coolidge produced some hymnbooks and led a volunteer choir of four on his violin." At the second meeting on October 27, three committees were named: one to find a meeting place, one to raise money, and one to arrange music and "secure an instrument."

In spite of the devastating San Francisco fires in the spring of 1851, and the difficulty in keeping ministers, by 1853 a church had been built, with a "good organ of considerable power." Two services were held regularly on Sundays, both with organ music and singing by soloists and a quartet.

1855 found the church laboring under external hard times, internal disagreements and mounting debt. The cost of operations over budget each month was exactly the cost of the music program. The suggestion to cut the music was opposed by a member who "knew good music to be a great attraction." Instead, it was voted to pay off the debt, eliminating the need to pay the interest.

The first concert at the church mentioned in the Book of Records was in1858, for the benefit of the organ fund. That same year a tax was levied on those "owning" pews, for a "singing fund."

When Thomas Starr King became our minister in 1860, his charismatic sermons and lectures included a lecture series which paid for a new organ. (The piano he had chosen was donated to the church after his death.) The dedication of the new church (at Stockton and Geary) in 1864 was celebrated with a service including organ music, chant (choir and minister), and four original hymns. Another hymn was written for the occasion by John Greenleaf Whittier. 

Starr King's daughter, Edith King Davis, was also interested in the church music program. In the 1890 Board of Trustee's minutes, it is noted that she had "brought the choir up to better form." The "choir" throughout the 19thcentury meant a paid quartet: soprano, alto, tenor and bass. Although volunteer choirs were tried, they were not successful until the mid-20thcentury.

Music has been so integral a part of the church that it is often difficult to tease out the strands of its history from the history of the church as a whole. We do know that the first 20th century organist was H. Bretherick, who, after serving 25 years, was fired by the Board in 1921, when he refused to take on additional duties for what he already considered aninadequate salary.

In his place, Uda Waldrop was hired. (His sisters were rumored to be named Ada and Ida.) In addition to his unusual first name, he always referred to himself as "we." He was well known in San Francisco as a talented organist. He served the church until 1951, when, suffering from cancer, he committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. 

Various organists filled in until 1954, when John Tegnell became Music Director. He was a voice professor at San Francisco State College, an imaginative leader, with a beautiful baritone voice. Mark Smith was hired as organist. A paid quartet continued to sing at services, separately and with the volunteer choir. Smith was replaced by Alexander Post in 1963.

Post took over as both Music Director and organist in 1970. He taught organ at San Francisco State University. He also was well known in San Francisco as a composer and concert organist (particularly as a Bach specialist). A new organ was designed and installed during his tenure. In 1973, the church made him Minister of Music. Among his new duties was "preaching" one service a year, mostly music with a little talking. Post considered this the proper proportion. One small example of his always present wit was his use of the term "choir Mafia," referring to the many members of the choir who served as committee heads or members of the Society’s Board of Trustees.

In 1983 Post brought in a vibrant young successor, Robert Geary, to conduct the choir. Post continued as Music Director and organist. Sue Bohlin soon took over choir rehearsal accompanist duties. "Music Director" duties had, over the years, evolved to include not only playing the organ and conducting the choir, but also obtaining the other varied musicians required to meet20th and 21st century congregational tastes. When the much beloved Post retired entirely, Geary became Music Director and Paul Jacobson was hired as organist. Bohlin continued as accompanist.

The paid quartet had been dropped in 1970. Under Tegnell, Post and Geary, the volunteer choir grew in size and ability, to an enrollment of over 70voices at its largest. It performs a wide variety of music from early to contemporary. It has performed major works regularly, such as Brahms' A German Requiem and Vaughn Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem, among many others. It has performed commissions and premieres by contemporary composers such as Roy Harris, Ruth Watson Henderson and Sir John Tavener and continues to finance new commissions through the Alexander Post Fund.

In addition to singing regularly for church services, weddings, memorials, ordinations, etc., the choir has sung separate concerts, such as the entire Elijah by Mendelssohn. Segments of the choir also tour internationally most years.

Our current organist, Reiko Lane, formed and leads a hand bell choir which performs at church services from time to time.

The Music Committee, which dates from the founding of the congregation, assists the Music Director in promoting and supervising the music program of the church. Our current Music Director, Mark Sumner, organist Lane, and accompanist Bill Ganz are carrying on the tradition of quality music begun in 1850.

 

SHARE YOUR TALENTS

Once a month and throughout the summer, professional musicians provide music for the 11am Sunday worship service. The UU staff and congregation is proud of the consistent quality and wide diversity of the musicians we attract to our space. If you are interested or know of a musician or ensemble that would enhance one of our services, please notify Mark Sumner 415-309-0150.

Many arrangements with professional musicians and music groups often involves reserving space in the UU center. Mark Sumner coordinates arrangements involving trading space for a worship service appearance. All other rental arrangements must be made with Susana Bernahola at reservations@uusf.org or 415-776-4580 x202

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