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 one of our four choirs or a talented guest musician - are always of the highest musical quality and enhance the sermon's theme.
Two Sundays each month, the Adult Choir fills UUCR's services with uplifting and sacred 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 senior high schoolers and adults of any age and any musical ability, and there are no auditions necessary to join. We rehearse weekly on Thursday nights (September - June) from 7:30-9:30 p.m. in the Sanctuary. The Adult Choir is conducted by our Director of Music.
Family FUUN Ensemble
The Family FUUN Ensemble is a hoot-hollerin’ good time geared toward families with school-aged children (elementary through high school suggested but younger children are welcome too!). Each rehearsal begins with a potluck dinner followed by opportunities to make music together, dance together, make art together and have a ton of FUUN doing it! Family FUUN meets in 3 separate sessions throughout the church year and performs in Sunday worship at the conclusion of each session. This program is co-led by Barbara Weis and Sarah Jebian, with occasional help from other volunteers.
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 after the Sunday service from 11:15 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. in Room 44. Sonaria is directed by Cynthia Shires-Thurston.
Bonfire of the Mannakeys
Bonfire of the Mannakeys is UUCR's newest 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 Richard 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.
Special Sunday Music
Share your talent! In addition to our four choirs singing in Sunday services, we turn to solo musicians and small ensembles for our musical worship experience. We're on the lookout for musicians to share their gifts at occasional services throughout the year and at each service during the summer.
Want to join us? To learn more about all of UUCR's ensembles and special music program, contact our Director of Music, Sarah Jebian.
ArtsConnect uses a variety of creative artforms (music, visual, literary arts etc.) 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 Sunday afternoon, family-friendly community event. Featured visual art comes from both professional artists and community members. Poets of all ages are featured throughout the event. There are 3 different ArtsConnect events throughout the year with each event lifting up a different social justice theme. Did we mention there’s food & beverages too? Come join us and let the Arts Connect you to your own spirit and to your community. Click here for upcoming ArtsConnect events.
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. Mike Holmes coordinates the band.
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+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 Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network 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.
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