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Music at Northminster

The Northminster Choir

 

The Northminster Choir typically leads the Sunday worship time. Rehearsals are Wednesdays from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. and Sundays from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. The repertoire is eclectic, making use of a wide range of compositional styles as appropriate in the worship setting. Selections range from early and baroque pieces, works of great classical and romantic era composers, and twentieth century compositions with innovative harmonies and rhythms, as in Benjamin Britten, to gospel and spiritual settings. Major works performed include Handel’s Messiah, Mozart's Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Hymn of Praise, Vaughn Williams' Hodie, and John Rutter’s Gloria and Requiem. (Membership in the choir is open to all who love to sing.) Perfected musical skills are not a prerequisite. We only ask that you have a commitment to good church music, have some facility with printed-notation, and appreciate the value of and the satisfaction one gains from leading a well-executed worship experience.

The Sanctuary with its simple beauty, excellent acoustical property for vocal and chamber music, and intimacy, is perfect for recital programs. Northminster makes this space available to performers in the community including great performances by faculty and students of the University of Louisiana at Monroe. We also sponsor recitals by our own music staff and other performers both local and international. Notable figures have included Frederic Swann, internationally renowned organist, formerly of Riverside Church in New York and the Crystal Cathedral in Los Angeles, as well as performances throughout the year through the Piatigorsky Foundation in New York.

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Northminster's Choral Scholars

 

The choral scholar program at Northminster provides opportunities for students (most are from our local university, The University of Louisiana at Monroe) to participate in a traditional music ministry. They provide a consistent base of singers, soprano, alto, tenor, and bass, for our choir. There are opportunities for solo and ensemble work. They are exposed to a variety of good choral literature including major works such as Handel's Messiah and Mozart's Requiem. The program is designed to enhance their musical experience and education and to provide our church members an opportunity to interact on a personal level with these bright and talented young people. The students receive a stipend to assist with expenses of their education. They greatly enhance the vitality of our church. We are committed to care for them and provide an enriching experience.

The Moeller Tracker Organ

Built in 1971 by the M.P. Moeller Company in Hagerstown, MD, the organ in our sanctuary is a 15 ranks mechanical (tracker) instrument of two manuals and pedal. The organ was originally installed in the company’s factory as a tracker prototype. It was later in a private residence in Monroe until the new sanctuary was constructed in 1991 at which time it was relocated to Northminster. The dedicatory recital was played by Frederic Swann in October of that year. Although not grand in scale and without the “bells and whistles” of a large electropneumatic instrument, the 15 rank Moller tracker serves well in its main task of leading congregational singing, a top priority of worship at Northminster. It is used as well to accompany the choir in almost any style of music and to play most styles of organ literature. The design is totally mechanical—the way organs were designed in the 17th- and 18th- centuries. The only electrified elements are the blower, the lights and the zimbelstern.

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The Meta Organ

After having been served well by the Moeller Tracker organ for almost 35 years, a decision was made to expand the capabilities for hymn and choir accompaniment and for playing all genres of organ literature. As with many small congregations, we lacked space and funds to move to a larger, 3-manual instrument with expressions, combination action and all the other bells and whistles of a large church instrument. We did not want a traditional electronic organ. The Meta organ which functions on the Haupwerk software platform answered well our needs. The console, dedicated computer, midi system, and speaker system was designed and built by Dan Lemieux and associates of Meta Organ Company in Argyle, NY. This system allows for sample sets, expertly recorded digitally from actual instruments, to be played in exactly the same way as the original organ. The ergonomically designed touch screens, unique to Mr. Lemieux's instruments, display an accurate depiction of the stop jambs of the original organ. Each stop functions exactly as the original by touching it. The combination action and combination stepper provide an almost unlimited number of preset registrations. The sound of the state of the art speaker array which is located just behind the pipes of the Moeller, while not "the real thing" is amazingly true to the sound of actual pipes. Think a great CD recording of organ music played on a state of the art sound system. The sample sets (or organs) were chosen by Mr. Lemieux for the quality of their samples and to provide a variety of styles of organs from around the world. There are 2 American Classic organs (E.M. Skinner and Rosales), a Canadian Eclectic (Casavant), an English Victorian (Hill), A French Romantic (Cavalle-Coll), a Spanish Chamber organ, a German Romantic (Sauer), a German Baroque (Janke), and an Italian Renaissance organ. Also there is a Flemish Harpsichord and a Ghent Carillon. Just imagine what can be done with all those instruments at your disposal. Don't forget the possibilities of organ duets, concerti, etc. that come with having the Moeller in the same room. The inscription on the uniquely designed bench reads: "Per acres ad animus" (through the ears to the soul.)

Enjoy some recordings of pieces played on the Northminster All Saints Meta Organ

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