Music News Archive

Aug 2012

Report from Music Director Search Committee

After Seth Houston, our 2011-12 Director of Music, announced that he would be moving out of state after completing his contract in mid-June, I was asked to chair the search committee for a Director of Music, who will begin next fall. I said I would, after happily singing in our choir for the first time last fall, but only if a committee was established before the Rev. Rebecca Benefiel Bijur's then upcoming family leave in April, May, and June. We recruited Bronwen Jones, a former music committee chair and president; Denise Helton, chair of our personnel committee; and current choir member Alice Jankowiak. A job description was posted on the UU Musician's Network and forwarded to other sites and individuals, and a month later we had received 25 applications from a nearly equal number of men and women. The applicants ranged from 20-something to 60-something, with musical interests and backgrounds from  classical to folk to gospel. Prior church experience was UU, Baptist, Jewish, Lutheran, and other denominations. Applicants’ education varied from no college degree to a Ph.D. In June members of the search committee met, agreed on a list of eight finalists, and began to check references.

As of the writing of this update it's been more than a week since the July 8 town hall meeting on the music program, and some additional discussions have occurred with interested members of the congregation and with Rev. Bijur. I'm honored to be a part of this process, and appreciate being introduced to some long-term options for how music at UUCCSM could be expanded — even within the same budget. There are different models that I had never thought of, and I look forward to further congregational consensus building. Rev. Bijur will conduct telephone interviews of all eight finalists, call in four to six for face-to-face interviews with the entire search committee, and continue to seek input from everyone interested in the music program — including past and present choir members — before making a decision.

This process is another example of "Everything is a moving target, and everything is constantly evolving." My feeling is that music at UUCCSM is the third leg of a three-legged stool (ministry and religious education being the others). We should be able to hire someone extraordinary, and I can't wait to meet that person at the first choir rehearsal in late August. The congregation as a whole will meet him or her at In-gathering Sunday, on September 9.

— Rob Briner

Jul 2012

Town Hall Meeting: Sun, July 8, 11:30am. Come brainstorm about our music program. Organized by the Music Director Search Committee and the Music Committee. Sanctuary, c/o Rob Briner and Rima Snyder.

Nov 2011

From Our Director of Music: Come Sing with the Choir forAdvent Season

As I finish up my secondmonth working with the choirhere at UUCCSM, I feel so luckyto have the opportunity to make such fabulous musicwith such wonderful people. The choir keeps gettingbetter and better and is such a treat to work with.If you've ever thought you'd like to be involved inthe church this way, I hope you'll consider joining usfor the Advent season. We have wonderful musicplanned, culminating in two services on ChristmasEve. If you think you might be interested, please contactRima Snyder or me at have also been enjoying working with some of thechildren in our church community during some of the9 a.m. services. We have a delightful small crop ofyoung singers, who sang at the Day of the Dead serviceon October 30.

Yours in music,
Seth Houston


Music Notes

The Saturday Spotlight returnsthis month on November 12 at 7p.m. in the Sanctuary. Theevening will feature entertainmentby church members includingmusical performances, poetryand stories. Anything can happen - drop by andenjoy the show! The magic continues at 8:15 p.m.with An Enchanted Evening, sponsored by theStewardship Committee. For more informationplease contact Tom Ahern.

Louis Durra returns to the stage on Sunday,November 6 at 7 p.m., accompanied by Jerry Kalafon drums and Ryan McGillicuddy on bass. The trioplays jazz standards, original compositions, andinventive interpretations of a myriad of musicalgenres. Suggested donation $10; a reception followsin Forbes Hall.

- Rima Snyder

Feb 2011

Last month two musical events were featured in thesanctuary. "Out of the Blue" describe themselves as "YaleUniversity's only coed pop/rock a cappella chorus." OnJanuary 7, they filled the hall with amazing energy, closevocal harmonies and a crowd-pleasing repertoire. Thegroup of 18 students performed their own arrangementsof tunes by Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, and others.Even if the repertoire was unfamiliar to some, there wassomething to please everyone. At the end of the evening,Out of the Blue alums Reverend Bijur and her husbandJonathan joined the choir onstage in a rendition of "TheParting Glass," after which all Yale alumni in the audience were invited up to sing the school's alma mater,"Bright College Years." A splendid time was had by all.

On January 9, The Arrogant Doormats played downan innovative set of charts ranging from jazz standardsto songs by Bob Dylan, Tears for Fears, and Alanis Morissette. Our own Louis Durra was joined by long-time fellow musicians Larry Steen on bass and Jerry Kalaf ondrums. If you missed this entertaining evening, you cancatch their next appearance in the sanctuary on Sunday,March 13. They can also be heard every week at theSouth Beverly Grill in Beverly Hills.

Jan 2011

Singers Needed

A Celebration Choir will perform at Rev. Bijur’s installationservice on Sunday, February 13, at 3 p.m. Singersare invited to join members of the UUCCSM choir andthe choir of the Unitarian Universalist Church of LongBeach. Learn wonderful music and make a joyful noisecelebrating the installation of our ninth settled minister.Contact the church office to RSVP: or speak to an office volunteer onSunday morning.

Apr 2009

On Sunday, April 5, Roy Zimmerman will be ourguest musician at both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services.Roy has been writing satirical songs for 20 years workingin the comedic tradition of Tom Lehrer and the folktradition of Phil Ochs. He is a wonderful performer,nationally known, and often plays at UU churchesaround the country. If you want to hear more, Roy willbe playing at McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monicathat same Sunday from 2 to 4 p.m. In the meantime,you can check Roy and his music at

The Louis Durra Trio will be performing April 26 at7 p.m. in the Sanctuary. A reception will follow. Towhet your appetite, here are a few musical thoughtsfrom our very own Mr. Durra:

"Steve Wight once said to me, "Did you ever noticethat the golden age of songwriting was whenever theperson talking was sixteen?" I came up with aneclectic-listening family and music education -classical music, Motown, Big Bands, Santana,The Beatles - were all in the air around me as a smallchild. My horizons became vastly broader when I"grewed up" and was performing all of the time.

"One of the coolest things (ah, yes, coolest - that'sthe technical term) about playing at Ye Olde UUCCSMis the open-nessivity , even demand. for performing inmany different realms of music. Between what thesoloists bring to the first service, Steve's choices andarrangements for the choir, and topical requests forthe services - the musical styles have spread around400 years pretty thick. With the other music going inthat many directions, I'm encouraged to make eclecticchoices for the prelude music. Last week 20th centuryHungarian composer Bela Bart

Jan 2009

The Louis Durra Trio forsakes its recent genre-hoppingexplorations to play a concert of straight-aheadjazz. Find out and hear what that sounds like. It'salways awesome. January 18, 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.Champagne reception follows. $10 suggested donation.

Watch out for the upcoming early choir Sunday. Ourdevoted choir members and section leaders will sing at9 a.m. instead of 11 a.m. and our 11a.m. crowd willhear our guest musician. The very first one of these for2009 will be 9 a.m., January 25.

The Music Committee is launching a new series ofevents coordinated by VictorWylie. Folks are invited tocome together and play music. No rehearsal required.This will occur four times a year. Two will be for popularmusic and two for the classical repertoire. All arewelcome. Our first event will be all kinds of popularmusic on February 8, 4

Dec 2008

Our Saturday Spotlight last month was a blast. It isalways a friendly environment in which we canall strut our stuff. And the Louis Durra Trio'sopening concert for the season, twisting well-knownBeatles tunes, was a sensation. It is really a treat to hearsuch great jazz within our sanctuary walls.

This month's main music event is A Celestial Christmas.The Celestial Opera Company (Michelle'sMcWilliams' group) and our UU music committee areco-sponsoring this delightful evening to be held on Saturday,December 13, at 7 p.m. Local opera singers andcompany members perform in this special evening ofseasonal classical favorites and traditional carols withan audience sing-a-long. Yay! See ad for more info.

During December, the music committee will reintroducethe Music Table in Forbes Hall after church.Come and stock up on Louis' CDs and DVDs, and thechoir's CDs for all your holiday needs.

We welcome Judith Straw and Victor Wylie to themusic committee. Judith will be covering PR for ourevents. Victor is going to launch a whole new music program- Sunday afternoon jam sessions and chambermusic readings in the cottage. Folks will be invited tohang out to play and/or listen to music, just for fun. Norehearsal essential.

- Rima Snyder and Bronwen JonesCo-Chairs,Music Committee


A Celestial Christmas

A Celestial Christmas

Mark your calendars for a very special concert and singalong of holiday music performed byThe Celestial Opera Company Singers.

Saturday, December 13, 7 pm atThe Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica

Tickets: $15 or $10 with a non-perishable food donation at the door.Call our ticket hotline (626) 628-3305 for more information,or to purchase tickets online, visit our website

Oct 2008

Michael LambOur music program warmlywelcomes tenor section leaderMichael Lamb back into thefold. It's wonderful to have histalent and great spirit with usagain.

Jun 2008

Louis Durra Trio to Play June 8

The Louis Dura Trio performs Sunday, June 8, at 7 the sanctuary. Don't miss Louis' final jazz concert ofthe season. $10 at the door.