Tulare Music is a Vital Part of the Life of Union Church
squintingly From the moment the doors of the present 1922 Victorian Gothic Church were opened and the sounds of a brand-new Wurlitzer organ filled the space and the ears and hearts of all gathered here, and God’s ears, too! Also, since 1922, four tuned, bronze bells hung high in the tower and given in memory of Laura Spelman Rockefeller, not only tell us the time of day but summon us to worship, to celebrate, and even to mourn.
A major thread in the musical fabric from that time forward has been the presence of a volunteer choir composed of talented and faithful volunteer singers. Seeking to enrich the work of the choir and to support the education of young persons in the field of vocal and sacred music, the church is now engaged in an experimental program which provides a core of vocal section leaders whose role is to burnish and enrich the work of the choir. Membership in the choir is open to members of the congregation and the community, and inquiries about such membership are keenly welcomed by the current Organist and Director of Music, Richard Coffey, now in his second year in that role.
The church has enjoyed the leadership of a succession of distinguished organists/choirmasters and now has in place its third pipe organ, installed in 2005 by the Sebastian Gluck firm in New York City. Given in memory of Laurence Rockefeller, the French-inspired instrument (itself perhaps inspired by the French windows which surround it) permits the playing of a wide-swath of organ repertoire, firmly supports the choir and vocal soloists, and is a source of inspiration for the congregation’s singing of its many hymns of faith, our voices and the organ all breathing and riding upon the same air.
All of the music in worship at the church is thematically united with the weekly reading of scripture and with the prayers, litanies, and responses that are a historic part of Reformed worship. Music of the organ, the choir, its soloists, and the congregation help the church honor the command of the psalmist, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
In addition to music in worship, Union Church provides the community with a series of fine arts presentations that include distinguished lectures and high-level concerts of a wide variety, including chamber music, jazz, and, as might be expected, music for the organ.