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Music

Music is a bountiful and varied component of the worship experience at First Presbyterian. The renowned choir, under the direction of Dr. Michael Lister, has mastered a repertoire that includes music from the early church to modern pieces that enrich the worship experience. We embrace the diversity of our congregation and strive to reflect that in our musical worship as well.

Chancel Choir

The First Presbyterian Church Chancel Choir provides music throughout the year in our Sunday services. The choir, which has been an institution of the church from its earliest years, continues to enrich the services with music of varying styles and themes. The Chancel Choir rehearses Thursday evenings at 7:00 pm and is open to anyone who would like to join in making a joyful noise!

The choir, soloists, and other musicians also provide music for a variety of special services throughout the year. Christmas Eve is also a very special service in the community of First Presbyterian Church. Preceded by an extended prelude that features vocalists and instrumentalists from the church, the Christmas Eve service unfolds as a series of Lessons and Carols: scripture readings, special music from the choir, and congregational carol singing.

Our Good Friday services have offered more somber musical fare interspersed with special readings and have included an incorporation of a variety of musical elements. The music for these services often includes music specifically written for Lent and Holy week, which has included J.S Bach’s Christ Lag in Totesbanden, Francis Poulenc’s Four Motets for the Lenten Season, and Josef Rheinberger’s Stabat Mater. During Lent, First Presbyterian Church often offers special Taizé services on Wednesday evenings, led by soloists and piano in the more simplistic, meditative style of the ecumenical monastic community in Burgundy, France.

Soloists

Our four soloists are very active in our worship services. In addition to providing leadership with the Chancel Choir, they lead the congregation in worship during our Sunday morning services throughout the year. Soprano Rose Hunsberger, Alto Fiona McKinney, tenor Joshua Gurwitz, and bass Daniel Hoke are a vital part of the musical life of the church. They are also featured regularly in special services and musical events. In addition to our soloists, four deputy section leaders enhance our weekly worship as part of the Chancel Choir and in small ensemble. Our current deputy section leaders are Maria Southworth (soprano), Sarah Dworjan (alto), Nathaniel Finke (tenor), and Tom Monkell (bass).

Organist

Trevor Kahlbaugh has served as organist of First Presbyterian Church since 2015 and continues to offer exceptional organ preludes and postludes, rousing hymn renditions for congregational singing, and stirring accompaniments for our Chancel Choir, soloists, and guest performers.

Bell Choir

The First Presbyterian Bell Choir has recently been revived under the direction of Trevor Kahlbaugh and provides music regularly in services throughout the year. In 2013, the Bell Choir received an upgrade in 2013 with a new set of hand bells.

First Fridays at First Presbyterian Church

The musicians of First Presbyterian offer a variety of music in concerts and other events throughout the year, the majority of these events taking place as part of the First Friday concert series and art exhibitions. The First Friday Concert Series began in 2012 with a series of concerts and art shows that take place on the first Friday of every month, October through June, in correspondence with the First Friday events on Lark Street and throughout Albany. This series has featured performance by the Chancel Choir, Bell Choir, soloists, and instrumentalists of First Presbyterian Church and has offered a platform for guest artists from the Capital Region and beyond. Recent highlights from this series include an Inaugural Organ Recital by organist Trevor Kahlbaugh during his first months at the church. The First Friday concerts also have annual featured performances of classical works for the Chancel Choir, accompanied by chamber orchestra, including Morten Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, Leonard Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, Randall Thompson’s A Feast of Praise, Antonio Vivaldi’s Gloria. The First Friday series also has featured performances from solo and ensemble musicians of the Capital Region. Our Art Gallery, directed by David Hinchen, has featured numerous artists from the Capital Region and surrounding areas.

Instrumental Accompanists

Throughout the year, FPC’s Choir and organ are augmented by instrumental accompanists, including area performers as well as instrumentalists that are part of the church. Guest artists are featured in several services a year, providing music for the service as well as accompanying the choir.