Music Is a Vital Part of Congregational Life at CVUUS
Our 20+ person volunteer choir sings regularly at Sunday services and rehearses each week on Thursday evenings. Our House Band provides special music once per month at worship services, featuring piano, drums, bass, clarinet, saxophone, guitar, and more. CVUUS frequently hosts rehearsals and concerts for local groups like the Wellspring Hospice Singers, the Middlebury College Community Chorus, Middlebury Opera Company, Point Counterpoint, and many others. Our sanctuary features a wonderful Steinway Model L piano which is at the center of our music program. We also have a modest Yamaha drum kit, which livens up music when the House Band plays. The acoustics of the room are wonderfully balanced for all kinds of music making!
Choir is open to all—we are always accepting new members! Reading music is helpful but not required. We rehearse on Thursday evenings from 5:30-7 pm and Sunday mornings at 9 am when we sing at worship (usually 3x per month and off for summer). Contact Music Director Ronnie Romano at firstname.lastname@example.org or 201-388-4038 to be added to the choir list. Look for email from email@example.com (and check your spam folders for initial ones).
Watch and listen to our choir lead the congregation in a round, Tom Chapin’s “This Pretty Planet.”
Watch and listen our choir and House Band perform the African-American spiritual, “Ev’ry Time Ah Feel Duh Spirit,” arranged by our very own congregant, Dr. François S. Clemmons.
See our choir in rehearsal during the pandemic, distanced and masked, rehearsing hymn #131 “Love Will Guide Us.”
Choir led a joyful service on June 5, 2022. Watch it here.
Music Ministry Team
Ronnie Romano (Music Dir.), Carol Harden, Revell Allen, Chris Murphy, YOU?! Contact Ronnie if you have ideas or want to join our ministry.
Meet Ronnie Romano
Ronnie Romano, our Director of Music, is a recent (2020) graduate of Middlebury College, where he majored in music and minored in Chinese. Last year, he served as Music Director and organist of First United Methodist Church in Ticonderoga, NY. Among his ongoing activities are his work as Music Director of the Wellspring Hospice Singers in Middlebury and music instructor for the Choral Chameleon Institute in New York City. He also offers private lessons on ear training, piano, music theory, and score reading and is founding director of a new choir at All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne, VT.
Ronnie brings remarkable breadth and depth of experience to CVUUS. As a student at Middlebury College, he was music director and pianist for the Middlebury College Musical Theatre performances of 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, Spring Awakening, Cabaret, and The Light in the Plazza. He was also assistant conductor, accompanist, and a singer for the Middlebury College Choir and a teaching assistant for music theory classes. In the summer of 2018, as music director and pianist for Brecht on Brecht at the Atlantic Theatre company in NYC, he played piano on stage for the duration of the show’s Off-Broadway run. Ronnie spent a semester at Keble College, University of Oxford, and, in 2019, participated in a month-long intensive course at the European American Musical Alliance in Paris. We were delighted to have his leadership and ideas in strengthening and growing our music program this past year. View Ronnie’s introduction to us here.
Open Mic Nights & Contra Dances
Music Ministry hosts open mic nights and contra dances periodically. Thanks to all who participated in CVUUS St. Patrick’s Day Open-Mic Night 2023. We enjoyed Poppy Rees as a superb emcee assisted by Ollie Cultrara, performances by young pianists, storytellers – serious and comic, plus singers, banjo tunes, poetry, a contra dance with Richard Hopkins as caller, and refreshments from our choir members. Special thanks to our wonderful organizer Carol Harden who escorted the 50 to 60 of us out on viola.
What’s the Future of Music at CVUUS? Congregational Conversation
We reconvene for monthly congregational conversations (3rd Sunday following worship Oct through May). October 2022’s focus was on the future of music at CVUUS. Want to suggest a topic for a future one? Contact Council of Ministries member Alan Moore or Music Ministry leader Carol Harden.
Here are a few music links to lift you during these uncertain times.
Bound to Love, Spirit of Justice
CVUUS Choir offered us songs composed by Amanda Udis-Kessler, a long time UU composer who invites us to share her music widely via her website queersacredmusic.com. https://www.facebook.com/lucytune/videos/10160691614827678 https://www.facebook.com/lucytune/videos/10160708012312678
How Sweet the Darkness of the Falling Leaf Moon
Liam Greenwood was inspired to create this piano recording accompanied by falling leaves along and on Otter Creek. Watch here.
Hope Lingers On
Look at what some CVUUS congregants have created with other Middlebury Community Chorus members https://youtu.be/cagvRHdMNXg
Lo How a Rose
CVUUS Choir at holiday time. https://www.facebook.com/lucytune/videos/10160783516697678
Look at what the UUA General Assembly created for online worship. Listen to We Are performed by Dr. Ysaÿe Barnwell and the UUA General Assembly 2020 virtual choir and Tomorrow. Expand it to full screen for full effect!
Wake Now My Senses
An old Irish melody with lyrics by Rev. Thomas Mikelson, a UU minister who died earlier this year. It’s often sung at the installation of ministers at a congregation or at ordinations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojptYH9yqFs
Just As Long As I Have Breath
A 17th century tune with words by Alicia Carpenter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eFGQA1Iw4HQ
Blessed Spirit of My Life
Starts out the same way and then turns another direction — a hymn looking back at what is a well-lived life: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOKyNZyC0Ss
A Fierce Unrest
The least sung hymn in this list. Another old tune (1815) but with atheist lyrics by the 20th century writer Don Maquis. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wepC6-JGlgU
Let It Be a Dance
Troubadour UU minister Ric Masten’s one famous song regularly makes the favorite and most hated lists among UU’s (the latter, usually, in congregations where it has been sung to death): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zv6dxVOn1A
We Laugh, We Cry
Just the first verse here of the four …. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XQMgNJBZVFk.
We Would Be One
One of several hymns written to the Finnish composer Sibelius’s tune “Finlandia”.
Though I May Speak With Bravest Fire
Modern lyrics based on Biblical text to an old English tune called “Gift of Love” – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXSI8krPwx0
Spirit of Life
At All Souls in Washington DC, they sing it in Spanish first. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LikvoIiN_bU
Listen to this sample of Chuck Miller’s wonderful postludes:
Listen to choir favorites worship services
A Choir Is a Beautiful Thing. Led by music director Ronnie Romano and members of the CVUUS Choir. We came ready to sing along with them and heard moving reflections. Poppy Rees led us in singing the final song Lead with Love. (June 5, 2022)
Choir Favorites: It’s All about Love. Lucy Tenenbaum led us in celebrating our favorite worship songs and launching our summer Spirituality and the Arts worship services. Watch the Preservice Photo Montage celebrating Choir Dir. Lucy Tenenbaum’s years at CVUUS with Chuck Miller’s original music. More here. (June 20, 2021)
Watch Community Is the Heart of Choir Worship Service here a special choir service of wonderful new recordings of favorite songs and shared past recordings. (June 21, 2020)