Always expect the unexpected. This is probably a good way to describe the varied ways in which music is incorporated into the ministry at First Presbyterian Church of Edgewood. Led by Minister of Music Shaun Cloonan, the volunteer and staff members of the music ministry present expressions of praise and enhancement to worship through a multitude of ways.
The dedicated and talented members of the Sanctuary Choir meet each week for an hour before Sunday morning worship to learn hymns, anthems, and presentations to share in worship. Mostly a traditional SATB format, the styles the choir have tackled range from simple chants from the Taize and Iona traditions, to mass settings in Latin, to gospel pieces and traditional songs from Africa. More important than the high quality of music, though, is the incredible sense of family and community felt in this group. Consider joining to be a part of the "joyful noise!"
What some might consider a "praise band," this ensemble varies in its instrumentation and members depending on scheduling and availability. The core group is piano, percussion, a vocal soloist, and guitar. Some months, additional guitars are included, as well as keyboard, additional singers, auxilliary percussion (such as djembe or conga), saxophone, euphonium, and even violin. This ensemble rehearses the week before the monthly Emerging Worship service, usually on a Wednesday evening as well as early Sunday morning.
Edgewood is fortunate to have a core of vocalists on staff to sing with the choir or worship ensemble as the needs occur. During the summer months, the choir takes a vacation from worship, and the section leaders provide music leadership in the form of solos, duets, trios, and quartets.
Over the years, FPCE has been fortunate to have several guest musicians and ensembles join in worship. Several years in a row, the University of Pittsburgh Women's Choral Ensemble sang during worship, and then used the building for their fall retreat. The Nouveau Noir Vocal Ensemble twice collaborated in worship with the FPCE Sanctuary choir during 2012 and 2013. The North Hills Singers chamber choir that Minister of Music Shaun Cloonan directs at North Hills High School sang during worship and then offered a mini-concert after in 2012, '14, '15, and '16. We've held Jazz Vespers services, featuring pianist Sunny Sakai with various combinations of professional jazz musicians. Easter 2017 featured guest flute and cello player, and niece of Pastor Michael, Liana Westerman, along with resident worship ensemble guitarist Lisa Segedy.
FPCE enjoys a partnership with the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra, providing rehearsal space for them on occasion, and hosting them for their annual holiday concert in December with the Renaissance City Choirs. Beginning in November 2014, the music ministry annually hosts a regional Women's Choral Festival, featuring collegiate, community, and high school female singing ensembles for an afternoon of song. Throughout the year, Edgewood welcomes visiting musical groups, ranging from organ recitalists to jazz combos to choral ensembles. Most recently, FPCE enjoyed a concert by the Cantare Choir from the Young People's Chorus of Erie in June 2012, a piano recital by Nathan Carterette in June 2013, and the Heidelberg University Concert Choir in May 2017.
The Edgewood Organ
The first pipe organ of the Edgewood Presbyterian Church was installed in 1917 by Casavent Frères, Lte. company of Canada. This organ served the church until 1967 when, under budgetary constraints, the failing organ was replaced with a modest-sized Möller organ, built in Hagerstown, Maryland. The console from the original organ had been retained until funds became available for a new one. In quite serious condition, the console was finally replaced in 1978 with a generously sized 4-manual Möller console built to match the intricately carved oak of the sanctuary and organ case.
In 1992, the console was rebuilt with a new solid-state combination action which replaced the old, air-driven, pneumatic combination action. Less than two years later, the entire Antiphonal organ had to be shut down completely and it was apparent that substantial repairs were imminent. In 1998, a fundraising campaign began to rebuild the organ and to purchase a keyboard. The Organ Fund Committee launched the campaign, "Music for the Millennium" on Easter Sunday, 1999.
In 2001, the instrument renovation was completed. It is one of magnificence, a true statement to the wonder and majesty of Almighty God, whose praises First Presbyterian Church of Edgewood now sing with more excitement than ever before.
Music Ministry Staff
Shaun Cloonan, minister of music
Sunny Sakai, organist and pianist
Mandy Rineer, music associate