Music News Archive

Apr 2017

Music Program Supports Our Music Program

"Leslie Beauvais and Friends" (lots of them) sang and played piano, flute, violin, and guitar at a concert March 12 following Second Sunday Supper. The concert raised $1,025 to support our Church’s Music Program.

















































































































Mar 2017

Second Sunday Concert Featuring Leslie Beauvais

Immediately following Second Sunday Supper, in the Sanctuary, a special concert by our fantastic and talented singer/songwriter Leslie Beauvais. All donations to this event will go to the UUSM music fund, which relies on events such as this to help raise funds for our musicians, printed music, and other expenses related to music ministry. Please join us! Contact: Kim Miller for more information.

Dec 2016

Disney Hall Concert Showcases Our Music Director and Bass Section Leader

I’m still floating after seeing the Los Angeles Master Chorale in an amazing concert at Disney Hall on Sunday, April 30. Grant Gershon, the conductor, shared with the audience beforehand that the concert, a selection of music to fill the spirit, was inspired by Zanaida Robles, our wonderful music director.
Early in the concert, Zanaida electrified the audience with her deep, rich, gorgeous solo on Wade in the Water, also the title of the program: wade-in-the-water . Later, Zanaida’s arrangement of Lift Every Voice and Sing received a rousing and highlydeserved standing ovation. James Hayden, our bass section leader, was superb as a soloist on Vaughn Williams’ Mass in G Minor.
The audience was so appreciative at the end of the concert that the Chorale performed two encores. By my count, seven pieces were performed that our choir has also sung: Wade in the Water, Ubi Caritas, Amazing Grace, Randall Thompson’s Alleluia, Bright Morning Stars, Lift Every Voice and Sing, and Deep River. I was already tearing up by the fourth measure of the first piece, Stand in that River by Moira Smiley, a talented musician who has performed several times at UUSM. The singers processed in toward the stage from the four corners of Disney Hall. The sound of their voices surrounding us as they sang Moira’s beautiful Appalachian
harmonies was a wondrous experience.
I say with great pride that I was able to bask in the “glory of association” during intermission with friends from other parts of LA, fellow lovers of choral music. When I told them that Zanaida was our choir director and that James our bass section leader, they were astounded and envious. I am so appreciative of the folks we are blessed to work with: Zanaida, Danny, Jyvonne, Gabriel, James, Colleen.
If I’ve inspired you, there is another Los Angeles Master Chorale concert scheduled for June, a tribute to renowned choral composer, Morten Lauridsen and his piece, Lux Aeterna: I hope to see you there!
Janet Goodwin

Oct 2016

Concert Raises Spirits and Funds

It was a packed house for Leslie Beauvais & Friends in Concert in our Sanctuary Sunday, September 11. The joyous celebration of music featured our own Leslie Beauvais with her talented backup musicians Ed Tree, Jime Van Booven and Jaynee Thorne, performing Leslie’s original songs in genres from blues to jazz to pop to folk. Sexton Tom Ahern absolutely shone in his church operatic debut, delighting everyone with songs from Gershwin and the musical “Ragtime.” Our own Daniel Gledhill performed his original piano piece, “Wondrous,” which it most certainly was. Choir section leader Jyvonne Haskin dazzled everyone with an a cappella gospel song and her inspired renditions of two pop songs; and Scott Roewe led the audience in two sing-alongs, not to mention performing a brilliant saxophone accompaniment on several of Leslie’s blues and New Orleans-inspired ballads.

The musical fundraiser raised over $600 for the UU Santa Monica Music Fund.

A wonderful time was had by all, and we look forward to the next musical fundraiser, and an even bigger attendance, in 2017.


Aug 2016

Leslie Beauvais and Friends: MUSIC FUND BENEFIT CONCERT

Sanctuary • Sunday, September 11 • 7:30 - 9 pm
following Second Sunday Supper
When our own talented singer/songwriter and actress, the lovely Leslie Beauvais, learned that our Music Fund was nearly depleted, she stepped up to lead a Concert to Benefit the Music Fund.
Billed as Leslie Beauvais and Friends, the concert will include our talented pianist Daniel Gledhill, Alto Choir Section Leader Jyvonne Haskin, and bass/baritone Tom Ahern.
Leslie will be accompanied by three esteemed music professionals, her longtime bass guitarist/composer and friend Jime Van Booven, incomparable guitarist/producer Ed Tree, and composer, teacher and jazz saxophonist Scott Roewe.
A requested donation of $15 or whatever you can afford to help replenish our Music Fund will be appreciated.
Let us welcome our new Music Director, Dr. Zanaida Robles, when our choir returns September 25, with a restored Music Fund.

Aug 2016

Zanaida Robles Will Be Our Director of Music

I’m delighted to announce that Dr. Zanaida Robles has accepted our offer to serve as our next Director of Music. Dr. Robles brings an impressive combination of professional preparation and experience, as well as personal warmth and vitality, to this role. She immediately won the enthusiastic endorsement of our Interview and Audition Panel (Kim Miller, Leonard Cachola, Rima Snyder, Karen Hsu Patterson, Rev. Rebecca, and Denise Helton from the Personnel Committee), as well as our choir, during her final audition July 14, and I am thrilled that she will be joining our staff team for the coming church year.

As Dr. Robles will be departing from a long-time position as a soloist and section leader with All Saints Pasadena (Episcopal) to come to UU Santa Monica, we will be fitting her start here around her previous commitments to All Saints. Thus, she will have a series of “start dates” on a calendar something like this: Dr. Robles’ first day in the office will be August 18 (surprisingly close to our originally projected start date of August 15); she will be introduced to the congregation at our Ingathering services August 21; start rehearsals with the choir September 1, and her first Sunday directing the choir at a service will be September 25. I know her work with the choir will be worth the wait and I look forward to introducing Dr. Robles to the whole church community August 21.

Zanaida Robles is a singer, conductor, composer, and music instructor born, raised, and educated in Southern California. She holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree from the USC Thornton School of Music, a Master of Music degree from CSU Northridge, and a Bachelor of Music degree from CSU Long Beach.

Dr. Robles has prepared choirs for performances with such artists as Josh Groban, Kristin Chenoweth, Audra McDonald and Wayne Brady. She is also in demand as a clinician and adjudicator for competitions, festivals, and conferences related to choral and solo vocal music. She is currently entering her fifth season as the Artistic Director of the San Gabriel Valley Choral Company in Monrovia, CA.

Dr. Robles has performed background vocals for artists including the Rolling Stones, Andrea Bocelli, and Juanes. She has worked as a singer and pianist on the hit Fox Television series “Glee.” Her film credits include “Tinkerbell: Pirate Fairy,” “Godzilla,” “Minions,” and “Creed.”

Rev. Rebecca Benefiel Bijur

“Ah, music,” he said, wiping his eyes. “A magic beyond all we do here!”  - J.K. ROWLING


Jul 2016

The Standard Was Raised

It was standing room only in the Sanctuary Saturday night, June 11, for “Raising the Standard,” our choir’s annual summer concert. This Dining for Dollars event (with tickets also sold at the door) was devoted this year to choir and solo interpretations of jazz standards. Afterwards, champagne and sentiment flowed in Forbes Hall as we said farewell to Director of Music DeReau Farrar, who is heading north for a fulltime job as acting director of music at the First Unitarian Church of Portland Oregon.

Rick Rhoads

Our choir celebrated a year of spectacular music making and paid special tribute to honor director DeReau K. Farrar at the annual party June 16th. Rima Snyder, Cindy Kelly and Diane Fletcher-Hoppe masterfully customized the lyrics to the popular swing tune “Come Rain or Come Shine.” Beaming a smile we’ve all come to adore, DeReau was moved as the choir family sang of all nighter parties, all kinds of weather, “we’ll love you always” and “you’re in our hearts rain or shine.”
—  Teri Bond

Please join us for the return of SummerSings!

Led by Church Accompanist Danny Gledhill, these informal community hymn sings take place on Thursday
nights in summertime and take us through the pages of our UU hymnals to enjoy familiar favorites or find new gems. All voices welcome. 4 Thursdays, July 21 through August 9, 7 p.m. to 8:30 pm in the Sanctuary. Contact Rima Snyder/ Music Committee.


Jun 2016

With Gratitude for DeReau “Welcome to the zoo...”

With those words and a gentle smile, DeReau K. Farrar welcomed me to my first choir rehearsal, in August of 2013. I began tentatively, unsure of my voice. But joining new friends to create music was an immediate source of joy, and as my confidence grew, I fell completely in love with choir and with the music program as a whole. In time, my involvement in choir and the music program has become one of the most meaningful ways I participate in church. On a broader scale, the music program that DeReau has developed here at UUSM has become one of the best things in my life. When I was going through rough patches, the communion of choir and music was a lifeline. I do not exaggerate when I say that the music ministry saved me.

Under DeReau’s tenure, the UUSM choir has sung a beautifully diverse range of music, including traditional classical choral pieces, African American spirituals, eclectic modern‐ day arrangements, and new pieces composed by contemporary Unitarian Universalist musicians. We have sung pieces in Spanish, German, Korean, Hebrew, French, Latin, Akan, and more. We have performed large-scale Requiem pieces in remembrance of loved ones for “Day of the Dead” evening Vespers services. Many pieces have been quite harmonically and rhythmically challenging. In choir rehearsal I’ve joked, “DeReau, you’re so ambitious!” and yet, I am so proud of our choir for meeting the challenges he has given us. We have so much fun during the process, and it is so rewarding. I have loved singing such a wide variety of music, often with powerfully emotional results. Through all of this, DeReau has been a source of constant encouragement, inspiration, and good humor. Under his skilled leadership, and with valuable guidance from our choir section leaders and our fantastically talented pianist, our choir has blossomed into something truly special.

DeReau’s impact on the music program as a whole cannot be overstated. Every Easter Sunday I eagerly awaited what instrumental guests would join us. Summer evening “HymnSings”, in which we sang our way through the UU hymnals, were a great joy. Some of my favorite music events have been the occasions that bring together various UU congregations throughout the greater Los Angeles area, such as the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. day UU choir festivals, as well as selected UU choir exchanges. I have enjoyed making music and sharing musical space with our wider UU community. (And I’m sure there are additional elements of the music program, including guest musicians, that I’ve neglected to mention here!)

DeReau’s musical gifts, skills, talent, and leadership will be greatly missed here at UUSM. He has truly transformed the music program, has fostered a welcoming musical environment that invites play and growth, and in his too‐short time with us, has left a great legacy and “big shoes” for our next music director to fill. Dear DeReau: THANK YOU for all you have given to our music program, and for the many ways your music ministry has fed and nurtured our collective spirituality, heart, and soul. It is with the deepest gratitude that we bid a fond farewell to a dear friend. We wish you all the best as you embark on your next great adventure in Portland, Oregon — I hope they realize how lucky they are to have you! Blessings to you on the musical journey!

Karen Hsu Patterson

Keep On MovingForward

I do not think there are sufficient words in my own vocabulary to express the deep sense of gratitude I feel for the brief time I have spent with you all at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica. There has never been any time in any church I have served where I felt more supported and upheld, both in vision and in person. I am not certain what my future experiences will be like, either in Portland or in whatever church I land at in the following year, but I do know that my memory of being in Santa Monica will remain a highlight of my personal and professional life.

I appreciate the ways many of you have expressed that you are sad to see me go. It feels good to know that my work has had a positive impact on so many of you and your relationships to the church. That said, there are obviously some (rather hilarious) opportunities for change, as a result of me being gone. Perhaps some of you have your eyes on the choir seating area, wondering how to change it. Perhaps others of you will be relieved to not have to hear the cajon and/or the organ for awhile. And, perhaps still others of you will hope for more guest folk musicians in the coming years.

Whatever change you seek, in this time of great transition, I hope you will pursue it in the spirit of moving forward — not moving back, not moving on, and certainly not moving in place. Each of you comprises a church made strong by its incredible history and traditions and kept strong by its resources and capacity for vision. With that, I urge you to gird yourselves with love and compassion, with gentleness and kindness, and with patience and humility, and keep on moving forward.

I anxiously await that smiling time when I can see you all again. Thank you for these 4 years!

DeReau Farrar


Nov 2015

From Our Director of Music:  I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in community with you

Charles Haskell has been asking me for more than three years if I would write something about the Music Program for the monthly newsletter. Someday, I promise, I will do that. Today is not that day, as it turns out... However, as my focus has turned toward worship preparations for November and our month of “Gratitude,” several thoughts and questions crossed my mind about our community here. So, I have set up a playlist of Vivaldi’s Concerto for Guitar and Strings in D Major, Lauridsen’s Lux Aeterna, and Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and am now ready to write.

The first questions that emerge are, “Why are they (you) here?” “Why are there so many people that give so much of their (your) lives and livelihoods for the sake of this church?” “Why do they (you) keep showing up?” The obvious and rather bland answer, of course, is that this is extremely important to all of you. But, I sense this goes deeper. So, I start to recall some of the many conversations I have had with some of you when you have told me bits and pieces of your stories — what your life was like before you came to the church however long ago, what initially drew you to the congregation, what sorts of involvement you have had since joining, and so on. It then occurs to me that this is all about expressing gratitude. You have told me time and again about the various ways the church has served you, and I believe you are now acting out of gratitude to ensure this beloved institution survives to serve others.

I begin to wonder though, as the years have (in varying pace) danced along, if the gratefulness that has fed such imperative industry has sometimes transitioned subconsciously into a fear of losing what has been established. And, recognizing that the church is as much the place we gather as it is the we that have gathered, I wonder if our expressions of gratitude have become confused into expressions of fear. Do we approach our activity in the church with an attitude of “I am grateful you are here for me,” or “I have worked so hard to help build you, and I am afraid you are changing?” Likewise, do we greet each other with a spirit of “I am so grateful for the opportunity to be in community with you,” or “you are welcome in my home, but please remember it is my home?” Have we become possessive of this bounty such that there is no more room in the inn? Being myself extremely grateful that each of you pledges and pays of yourselves to secure that I have a place of employment that values my personhood as much as my professional contribution, I can clearly see the temptation. However, I have persuaded myself that despite whatever needs taking a position here once fulfilled, it is now my turn to do what I can to guarantee that those in the communities around us searching for an oasis of love, respect, dignity, worth, and solidarity have a comfortable seat when they stumble into our halls. I have convinced myself that whatever sentimentality I hold for those notverylongago early days is not worth the sacrifice of losing the battle for others. I have been served, so shall they also be.

I am grateful for each of you. I am thankful for your love and support of beauty in our worship. I am also grateful for each of my colleagues. They are masters not only of their disciplines but of collaboration, creativity, and generosity. And, I am grateful for all of the nexttimes I see you, when our eyes and smiles will express gratitude for our very togetherness.

DeReau K. Farrar, Director of Music


Jul 2015

From Our Director of Music:
Summer HymnSing

Our annual HymnSing series will take place for an hour on the following Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.: July 2, July 9, and July 16. We will use this time to continue to journey through our hymnals, both with singing and light discussion. We will meet in Forbes Room #2.

DeReau K. Farrar, Director of Music