Music @ Glebe-St. James

By James Caswell

The Music @ Glebe-St. James program is such an exciting place to be! Our choir is growing: we now have 27 members on the roll, and that number includes several new young faces. We have a wonderful balance among the sections, but we’re still in need of altos. Our weekly rehearsals and services have allowed for lots of musical growth for all singers, with a focus on vocal production and ensemble singing.

Most important is the progress we made because of COVID restrictions. While we were unable to rehearse or worship in person, we turned to Zoom rehearsals and virtual music leadership. The most amazing outcome of this was a forced awareness and accountability of each singer and their understanding of their own vocal sound. While it’s true that most folks were surprised and a bit dismayed at the sound of their own voice (some even questioned why they were allowed to sing in the choir!), the result was a greatly improved vocal energy that we continue to carry with us.

In addition to more singers and an improved commitment to sound, we have continued to explore a variety of styles of music, building to larger-scale works. This includes the past offering of an Advent Cantata in December and an upcoming presentation of the serene and tranquil Requiem by Gabriel Fauré.

For those who may not be aware, the music program at Glebe-St. James also welcomed a new Phoenix digital organ, installed in March last year. With four manuals and 82 stops, the new organ is extremely versatile. There are many possibilities in the sound palette, and the instrument suits every possible style and era of organ music. We are incredibly thankful to all those who supported the fundraising campaign and brought the project to fruition.

In addition to providing musical leadership within the church, the music program at Glebe-St. James aims to provide artistic opportunities in the community. As we’ve moved into a post-COVID time, we have had a very successful inaugural organ recital, featuring Matthew Larkin, as well as a very successful Sing-Along Sound of Music  (the first of two screenings) at the Mayfair Theatre! We look forward to offering a variety of opportunities to engage members of the community.

Our upcoming events include Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem on Good Friday, April 7 at 10:30 a.m. and music for choir, brass and organ on Easter Sunday, April 9 at 10:30 a.m. And don’t miss our second screening of Sing-Along Sound of Music at the Mayfair Theatre on April 22 at 1 p.m. Stay tuned for news of more upcoming events.

For answers to questions about the music program at GSJ or for enquiries about joining us, please contact me at

James Caswell is Minister of Music at Glebe-St. James United Church.

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