Music Ministry Notes

Music Ministry Notes

The regular column from Jakob Swetland, OCUUC's Director of Music Ministries. Jakob Swetland joined Orange Coast Unitarian Universalist Church as Director of Music Ministries in October 2023. He may be reached at jakob​@ocuuc.org.

Looking Ahead

As February comes to a close my role as a choir director starts to ramp up. The 2024-2025 choral season as I like to call it is quickly approaching. But how does that affect me? It simply just means that I need to start finding music! This article will give a little preview of what’s to come for my first Music Sunday in May as the Director of Music Ministries. It will be titled: Rise Up! Music by Women Composers.…

Significance of Black History Month on Choral Music

In the music world, so much of the musical influences and genres that we have today have come from Black composers and musicians, but how has that shaped the way we look at and perform choral music? Let’s first look at the world of spirituals, some of the earliest songs of those who were enslaved. The spirituals provide us with raw emotion, whether it be joyful or sorrowful. These songs were how they communicated with each other, how they knew…

New Beginnings

It’s been over a month since I have been the Director of Music Ministries at OCUUC and I could not have asked for a more inclusive and more welcoming congregation and staff! As always, the first day at a new job comes with the first day jitters and nerves. It’s been a journey of discovery: learning new things, new processes and meeting new people. It’s been a journey of excitement: finding new music, planning future services and music sundays. It’s…

Amazing Gratitude

September has been a big month of transitions and change throughout our music program. When Susan Shaw and I started in our roles as Interim Co-Directors of Music Ministries, we, with trepidation, thought our theme song would most accurately be described by Roy Zimmerman’s “Hope, Struggle, and Change.” However, as we reflect on our wonderful experiences throughout September and what we are anticipating in October, we think a more appropriate song is Hal Walker’s “Amazing Gratitude” — with train whistles…

Transition and emotions

Over the years I’ve written over 200 Reach articles, and this will be my last one. My time at OCUUC is quickly coming to a close. This transition brings about lots of emotions for me – gratitude, sadness, nostalgia, and excitement – all rolled in one. The famous therapist Virginia Satir created what we now refer to as the Satir Change Model: I find this Change Model to be very helpful when I’m in that uncomfortable Chaos phase. Knowing that…

Wrapping Up

It is a bit surreal to be writing my second-to-last article. After 22 years my time at OCUUC is drawing to a close as my last day with you all will be September 10th. I am experiencing lots of “this will be the last time I…” as I am wrapping up my responsibilities. A crack search committee is working hard to find an interim music director to manage things while an official search (with Rev. Sian) for a long-term music…

Music Under the Stars

Don’t miss our special Music Under the Stars event on Saturday, July 15 at 7pm. Some of you purchased this as an auction item, but even if you didn’t you can still come. The suggested donation is $10, either through the auction or at the door. The musicians will provide snacks and beverages and we’ll set up tables and chairs in the courtyard under the pergola. Music Under the Stars is always a lovely evening filled with great music from…

New Beginnings

By now I’m sure you’ve heard that I have submitted my resignation to the Board, and my last day will be our ingathering Water Communion service on September 10. I gave the church a long notice so the transition can be as smooth as possible. The reason I’m resigning is that I am feeling led to do more work in the adoption space — with my podcast, speaking opportunities, and parent coaching. It was a difficult decision for me since…

Making Music

Throughout my life, I’ve often reflected that music has literally saved my life. I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s how I communicate, how I bring myself peace, how I express myself, how I open to the Mystery, and so much more. How is music healing in your life? I’m reading the book The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk. (Great book!) The author gives lots of…

Meaningful Worship Services

First a word of gratitude to Steve Morihiro and Susan Shaw, who have often been leading the music on my days off. They are consistent, conscientious, talented, and collaborative. We’re so lucky to have these two willing to be leaders in our church! I also want to give a shout-out to the tech crew – Avery Brown, our awesome weekly Audio Engineer, plus all the volunteers who run the camera, run the slideshow, act as Zoom MC, and create the…

Gratitude

We are so lucky at OCUUC to have such dedicated and talented musicians in our ranks. Orange Coast Choir is practicing every Thursday at 7pm and we’re usually singing 3 times per month in the Sunday services. If you’re interested in singing with us, or just trying it out, come on over on a Thursday, or contact me anytime. Orange Coast Choir meets in Daniels Hall and on Zoom at https://zoom.us/j/581556612. The only two requirements to get into the choir…

A new Audio Engineer

Have you met our new Audio Engineer, Avery Brown yet? Avery (they/them) was hired last month and has already become an indispensable part of our worship team. They’ve recently run sound at the Spencer LaJoye concert (which was amazing, by the way!) and for our recent Music Under the Stars concert. They even came out from behind the soundboard at Music Under the Stars to sing and play piano. Multi-talented! I knew Avery from Long Beach Chorale and Orange Coast…