It connects us to our inner, divine essence. It transcends religion, generation, and genre. And when it's created from the heart, it expresses something fundamental and universal about our place and meaning in this world.
As an integral part of the service, Sunday's hymns and music - from our choir, house band, or a talented guest musician - are always of the highest musical quality and enhance the sermon's theme.
Click here to see the latest info about UUCR's vibrant Music & Arts Program.
A few Sundays each month, the UUCR Choir fills our services with uplifting music - from ancient Celtic tunes to American folk music, from religious standards to modern rock. Choir rehearsals are lighthearted yet rigorous, which means that our singers have fun and produce some awe-inspiring sound! We welcome singers ages 14 and older. There are no auditions necessary to join, and you do not need to read music. We rehearse weekly on Thursday nights (September - June) from 7:30-8:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The UUCR Choir is conducted by our Director of Music.
Sonaria brings the power of the female voice to Sunday services and other UUCR events. This women's ensemble performs a variety of more roots-based music. We welcome teens and women to rehearse twice a month during Middle Hour from 10:15 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. in Room 44. Sonaria is directed by Cynthia Shires-Thurston.
Bonfire of the Mannakeys
Bonfire of the Mannakeys is UUCR's house band. Our instrumentation varies but typically includes piano, acoustic and electric guitars, electric bass, drums, often brass, and of course vocals. We perform at a few UUCR services each year, and our music includes folk, rock, R&B, and other American popular music. Bonfire of the Mannakeys is coordinated by Mike Holmes.
Wildberry Jam is a women’s vocal quartet formed by Kris Butler, Gaynelle Campbell, Julie Graf, and Cynthia Shires-Thurston, with Dick Gilbert on piano. The group performs a variety of music, from traditional folk and spiritual pieces to more challenging, modern arrangements. For its members, WildBerry Jam is a spiritual practice, a place for deeper connection, communication, and witness to the evolution of a rough-hewn piece to harmonious beauty. WildBerry Jam hopes to inspire others to share their gifts with the congregation.
Tuba Noodle Casserole
Each December and occasionally throughout the year, instrumentalists in our congregation form a pick-up band. In just a few rehearsals, we'll put together music so we can jam at UUCR's "Getting Ready for the Holidays" and other events. Julie Graf and Mike Holmes coordinate the band.
Special Sunday Music
Share your talent! In addition to our various groups, we turn to solo musicians and small ensembles for our musical worship experience in Sunday services. We're on the lookout for musicians to share their gifts at occasional services throughout the year.
Want to join us? To learn more about all of UUCR's ensembles and special Music and Arts programs, contact our Director of Music, Sarah Jebian.
ArtsConnect uses music and art to deepen our connections with the greater Rockville and nearby Maryland communities. UUCR hosts guests musicians from all over the country as part of this family-friendly community event. Featured visual art comes from both professional artists and community members. There are two different ArtsConnect events during the year, with each event lifting up a social justice theme. Come join us and let the arts connect you to your own spirit and to your community. Click here for upcoming ArtsConnect events.
Annual Music Fundraiser
Once a year, UUCR's music program hosts a fundraiser dedicated to supporting the work of our Music & Arts program which extends beyond the scope of our regular worship services. The Ethier Music Fund at UUCR helps us produce major choral works, such as Vivaldi's Magnificat, Rutter's Gloria, and others. The fund also supports bringing in well-known guests artists and helps us to keep our instruments in good repair. The fundraiser is presented in a different format each year, but it is always a rollicking good time! Click here for more information on our Annual Music Fundraiser.
Our Director of Music: Sarah Jebian
Sarah joined UUCR in January 2018 as the Interim Director of Music and became our settled Director of Music in July 2018. She previously served the UU Congregation of Fairfax as their Interim Music Program Coordinator from February 2015 to August 2016.
Sarah is an award-winning singer and actress who has been seen by audiences from New York to Alaska and everywhere in-between. A classically trained soprano, Sarah is a frequent soloist with many D.C. area churches and choirs. In addition to her 30-plus-year career as a musical theater performer, Sarah brings to UUCR her expertise as a stage director, producer, choreographer, and teacher of voice and dance. She serves as Secretary of the Board of Trustees of the Association for Unitarian Universalist Music Ministries, and also serves on the Annual Conference Planning Committee for the same organization. She was a featured vocalist and song leader at the 2013, 2014 and 2018 UUA General Assemblies.
Sarah lives in Oakton, VA, with her spouse, Brian, and their two children.
Our Pianist: Justin Furnia
Justin Furnia graduated from Hood College in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in music (Piano Performance). There, he was a piano student of Dr. Noel Lester and was a recipient of the Patricia Bucheimer Piano Prize. He was also under scholarship as a student in the Honors Program and a Maryland Distinguished Scholar. In 2006 and 2009, he was featured as a Sidney Silverman Young Artist in the college’s Summer Chamber Music Festival. In 2008, he participated as a pianist in the Brevard Music Center Festival. Justin also works as an accompanist and pianist and teaches piano in Frederick and Rockville.