Making a Joyful Noise
Experience Diverse Music Here
Music is very much alive here at First Congregational UCC. We offer opportunities to lift every voice and sing through a variety of sacred music, artists-in-residences, choirs, and special concerts.
“…as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts” Ephesians 5:19
Our Minister of Music
Greg Chestnut, First Congregational’s Minister of Music for the past 32 years, has developed a comprehensive music program and is actively involved in creative worship planning.
Greg holds a Bachelor and Masters Degree in Organ from Indiana University. He is frequent recitalist on concert series throughout the state of Florida and has appeared as organist for the Sarasota Orchestra and the Florida Orchestra of Tampa Bay. He is a nationally recognized worship clinician for children’s and youth choirs. He is a member of AGO, American Guild of Organists. He also holds membership in ACDA, American Choral Director’s Association and the Chorister’s Guild of America. He is the president-elect of UCCMA, United Church of Christ Musicians Association. Greg is a published hymn writer.
Greg Chestnut, Minister of Music
Our comprehensive and varied choir program includes concerts, choirs for all ages, guest musicians, handbell and percussion ensembles and vibrant worship.
The Handbell Choir
The Sanctuary Organ
The sanctuary organ was built by the firm of Daniel Jaeckel of Duluth, MN in 1993 and dedicated on February 13, 1994. Part of the dedication service was shared simultaneously with the St. Georges Church in Pontesbury, UK, making it possible to hear their six bells dating back to 1681. The Jaeckel organ is a two manual mechanical action instrument of 23 stops and 28 ranks voiced in French Classic style. The organ is central to the church’s vibrant worship and plays broad variety of styles.
The Sanctuary Organ
Daniel Jaeckel Sanctuary Organ Video
Benjamin Britten’s “Jubilate Deo”
The Chapel Organ
The chapel organ was donated by the late member Ruth Upshall. The pipework is by Hook and Hastings. Built in 1898 originally for the Unitarian Church of Brunswick, Maine, it was moved and installed in our chapel in 2001.
A beautiful glass window for the Reed Chapel was completed and installed before Easter 2002.
The Reed Chapel Stained Glass
The Chapel Organ
Sarasota Music Festival Musicians
We offer a variety of performances each season, from internationally known organists to Grammy award winning artists. Intimate chamber music concerts are offered in Reed Chapel with candlelight and the background of our stained glass window.
Artists in Residence
First Congregational UCC annually brings renowned artists and choral conductors to Sarasota including Kent Tritle and Doreen Rao, EnsemblenewSRQ and most recently Dr. Kathy Bullock.
Kent Tritle, Organist & Conductor
Grammy nominee Kent Tritle is one of America’s leading choral conductors and organists. He is the director of cathedral music and organist at The Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in New York City. He is Musical Director of Musica Sacra, acclaimed by the New York Times as “the brightest star in New York’s choral music world.” Kent is also the conductor of the Oratorio Society of New York, a 200 voice volunteer chorus. In addition, he is director of choral activities at the Manhattan School of Music and on the faculty of the Juilliard School. First Congregational UCC was proud to host Mr. Tritle as Artist in Residence in 2019.
Conductor and Teacher
EnsemblenewSRQ strives to manifest the creativity of the current generation an inspire audiences to participate in musical culture in a profound way, through high-level curated concert experiences that sustain and transform the relevance of contemporary classical music. We are honored that they have selected our church to be in residence.
Dr. Kathy Bullock is an educator, scholar, singer, accompanist, arranger and choral conductor who specializes in gospel music, spirituals and classical works by composers from the African diaspora. A Professor Emerita of Music from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, she is currently teaching, performing, and conducting workshops and other programs on African American music throughout the United States, Europe, and Africa. In January 2022, we were blessed in so many ways by Dr. Bullock’s light and wisdom; by her music and testimony.