A Milestone   3 comments

Today I completed about 25 years at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Palos Verdes Estates, CA. This is the longest I will be at any church, and is likely to be the longest organist tenure for this particular parish. I worked with three of the church’s four rectors, several associates, and two interims. I played for untold numbers of weddings and funerals.

Of course I have many deep roots there, and many memories of the place and the people. And the vast majority are positive and uplifting!

I want to acknowledge and thank all those who have expressed their sadness that I am leaving and wished me well. And more broadly to those I worked with directly: my choir singers of all ages, and the parents of the choir kids, who got them to the rehearsals and services (I was there long enough to see at least two of my choir kids recently bear children of their own!).

It’s been a good run. Now, onward!

Posted January 5, 2014 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Concert!   2 comments

Next week is a big one for me – I’m changing music positions, AND playing a recital two days after I start!

The concert isn’t at my new church, but at First United Methodist Church in Santa Monica, where I’ll be starting off their Mid-Week Concert series for this spring.

The concert is Wednesday, January 8, at 12:10 – 1008 11th Street, Santa Monica, and will last about 30 minutes. Parking is available across from the church, on 11th Street.

I’ll be playing quite a varied program of organ music by Bach and Widor, more recent composers Daniel Pinkham, Los Angeles’ own Craig Phillips, David Cherwein, and between the old and the new, organist and composer Louis Lefebure-Wely, the 19th century Liberace of the organ – some obscure names, but very good composers, every one!

Many thanks to the church staff, and especially Music Director Jim Smith and administrator Sarah Rold, who edited the program.

I’m very excited about the concert, as this series is a new venue for me, and both the organ and the building are very good indeed.

Hope to see you there!

An Early Christmas Present   7 comments

Some of you know by now that I’m leaving my longtime church, St. Francis Episcopal in Palos Verdes Estates, CA. I’ll be starting early next month as Minister of Music at St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Corona del Mar, which is in southern Orange County near Newport Beach and Irvine. My wife and stepdaughter tell me it’s the setting for the TV show Arrested Development!

My final Sunday at St. Francis is January 5. I’ve been at this church for close to 25 years, and some of my deepest roots, musical and emotional, are there  – the building with its marvelous acoustic, the people, and the South Bay area. I met my wonderful wife there, and our dear daughter, now a college freshman, wouldn’t exist if the Rector at the time, The Rev. Robert Dunn, hadn’t hired me, ‘way back in 1989!

It’s been a long and basically a good run, and I’ve had many great experiences there. But now with our daughter gone we are semi-empty nesters. It seemed time for a major church move for me, this position came up, et voila!

I am excited about it – I’ll be playing a fine organ in a fine acoustic, and directing potentially the best adult choir I’ve ever had, with four section leaders and the ability to hire other musicians, both vocal and  instrumental, for occasional services (recently I went unannounced to a Lessons and Carols service there which was quite good).

There is also a bell choir, in which a former Associate at St. Francis and a longtime friend, The Rev. Dr. Barbara Stewart, is a member. They also have a children’s choir, and a Friends of Music group with an active concert series (I’m already booked for a program with a string quartet next May!). And there’s a Corona del Mar Baroque Festival I hope to get involved in.

So, I guess that’s God’s Christmas gift to me! Happy holidays to all of you!

The Huron Carol   3 comments

One of my great joys is to produce music for choirs to sing – and from the sound of this, Cantori Domino is enjoying singing it, too!

Be sure to mark this concert on your calendar – December 8, 2013, at 4 pm, at St. Augustine by-the-Sea, 1227 Fourth Street, Santa Monica.

You can find a special ticket offer, and be sure to visit Facebook for more previews and fun information.

I’ll be there, playing the organ and accompanying this great group. See you Sunday!

(yes, there I go, walking in front of the camera, to get the full effect of hearing from out in the audience)

Posted December 5, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Not Just for Thanksgiving…   Leave a comment

“When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive – to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love.”

Marcus Aurelius

One of the many things I am thankful for is you, my readers  –  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Posted November 28, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Choir Attendance – A Phenomenal Response   Leave a comment

Thank you to all my colleagues who have responded so generously to this survey! What do you think choir membership looks like nationwide? And what’s the best way to bring in new people? And how many of your church members actually show up on any given Sunday?

Some very rough preliminary results are on the Survey page of my site here, – here’s the link! It’s getting more and more interesting… Again, thank you to all!

Posted November 24, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

Great Britten!   Leave a comment

A portrait of the composer Benjamin Britten from 1948.Today, November 22, is the 100th birthday of Benjamin Britten, who many (including me) consider the greatest English composer of the 20th century. NPR has a wonderful short article about him. Do give a listen to the Serenade and War Requiem excerpts, and if that’s not enough, try the Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes – just about my favorite orchestral music! Happy Birthday, Ben!

Posted November 22, 2013 by Ray Urwin in Uncategorized

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