News from the Music Director Search Committee

News from the Music Director Search Committee

The Music Director Search Committee would like to share exciting news as it re-opens its search for Old First’s next Director of Music.  On October 6–World Communion Sunday–we welcome Louis Menendez to conduct the choir and accompany us during the worship service.  He will also rehearse with the choir on the previous Thursday evening.

Louis has many years of experience conducting and accompanying both church and various opera companies.  He has received wide acclaim for both his conducting and piano/organ accompaniment. As cited in his biography he is “acclaimed as one of New York’s most inventive musicians and is highly regarded as conductor, pianist, educator, composer, and collaborative artist. Menendez has conducted more than one hundred and forty opera productions throughout the United States and Europe, and has served on the faculties of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. As an operatic coach, Menendez has assisted such artists as Sherill Milnes, Birgit Nilsson, and Luciano Pavarotti. In chamber music, he has worked with such artists as Yo Yo Ma and flutist James Galway.”

While we continue the search process, Dr. Christopher Thomas will serve as our interim choral director and piano accompanist during the remainder of October.  Chris is assistant professor of music and director of choral activities at Rowan University. Chris conducts the Rowan University Concert Choir and the Statesmen Men’s Choir, and teaches graduate and undergraduates courses in choral conducting and choral literature.  Previously, Chris served as the director of music at Good Shepherd United Church of Christ in Sahuarita, AZ. while completing his doctoral studies at the University of Arizona.

Despite a disappointing setback, the search committee has been working tirelessly since June to discern who will be the best fit for Old First’s music program.  We all know you hope and pray our music program will continue to grow and flourish in new and exciting ways.  Many thanks to Alice Reyes who has skillfully led the process and to the members of the committee: Griffin Drutchas, Kris Forrest, Bill George, Rochelle Hammond, Yajeh  Ndimbie, Jillian Waldman, Marjorie Wilhite, Jackie Williams, and Rev. Michael Caine.  We offer additional gratitude to the choir and elders who  attended four auditions during September and who assisted us in narrowing our search for the right candidate.  We offer additional kudos to the choir and Kris Forrest (on piano) who have reassembled to share the gift of song without a director.

May God walk with ALL of us AND our chosen candidate as we complete this search.