St. Mary’s music program includes a church choir, supported by an extensive music library, an historic organ, baby grand piano, harpsichord and cabinet organ. St. Mary’s collaborates with universities and the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania in the composition of new music and in showcasing student performers of sacred music.
Our choir is all volunteer, composed of diverse choristers from the parish, students, the universities and music schools and the wider community. The choir sings for every service (excepting short breaks and June, July and August), are vested, and rehearse at least once a week (more often for Christmas, Holy Week and special services). St. Marians are particularly enthusiastic about the large repertory of church music preserved in St.
Mary’s music library which includes sacred music from all periods of musical composition. St. Mary’s proximity to major music schools (Penn, the Curtis Institute, University of the Arts) has heightened and enlarged our musical profile in the community.
Three years ago, the Rector, with the concurrence of the Vestry, decided to hire an entering Penn freshman, Emily Orrson, as our music director, a role we describe officially as Music Scholar. Since then, Emily has led us in reinvigorating the choir with new members, introducing a variety of music, and creating a very productive partnership with Penn’s Department of Music that sends to the parish five of the best of Penn’s student musicians, to date all instrumentalists, each of whom performs twice a semester, so that our worship these days is often characterized by a sublime level of classical music from incredibly gifted student musicians; and St. Mary’s is a performance venue much sought after by students, so that now, around the edges of our formal worship are a range of other music activities by and for students.
The opportunities to expand campus ministry in this direction are
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