Music at South Church

With music we connect to our deepest, innermost selves, we connect to each other, making a community, and we connect to something larger than ourselves.  At South Church we connect to music through singing, chanting, playing instruments and listening.  We express our joy, our sadness and our gratefulness.  

Be part of music at South Church; sing in the choir, join South Church Folk, chant, sing out the hymns, listen to the piano, the organ, our guest musicians and talk to Joanne Connolly.  We invite you to get involved.

If you are interested in being a guest singer or instrumentalist, please email our Director of Music Ministry, Joanne Connolly.

Director of Music Ministry

The South Church Music Program is led by Joanne Connolly, Director of Music Ministry. Joanne has a degree in Voice and Choral Conducting. Joanne is the founding director of "Voices from the Heart", a 200 voiced women's world music chorus, and "Con Tutti", a 100 voiced world music chorus for men and women. "Voices" has taken three international music tours to Ireland, to Croatia, and most recently to Cuba. Con Tutti has traveled recently to Puerto Rico on a musical/humanitarian/cultural exchange where they supported El Yunque rain forest and the Ricky Martin Foundation for at risk youth. Joanne was also a choral director and music teacher for the York school system for many years. Joanne has been a member of South Church since 1990.

Joanne works closely with our pianist, Susan Adams, and the ministers to inspire wonderful music at South Church.

South Church Music Committee

The South Church Music Committee supports the music program at South Church. We work together to host guest and member musicians, fundraising and community events like the St. Patrick's Day dance and our ongoing Coffeehouse, and to inform the congregation about music here at South Church. We also support the technical side of music making with a committee to run our new sound system.

We are currently looking for a few more volunteers to join our committee in many different capacities. Please contact Joanne at to find out more about these opportunities. The music committee meets once monthly, we are a fun bunch who loves music at South Church.

The South Church Choir

If you enjoy singing, meeting people, and forming a community around music please join us! South Church choir is a lively group of about 30 to 35 singers who meet to sing, express themselves with music and then share it with the congregation at South Church. There are no auditions, non-music readers and readers alike, are welcome! The goal is to enjoy the music making and then sing for services.

South Church Choir meets Tuesday nights from 7:00-8:30 in the sanctuary, directed by Joanne Connolly and accompanied by Susan Adams.

Contact Joanne Connolly at to find out more.

South Church Folk

South Church Folk has been playing together since 2009. We are a group of members and friends who sing and play folk instruments. We offer our gift of music once per month during service. Our group welcomes anyone who sings or plays a folk instrument. No auditions necessary; just a love of music. Many of us do not read music. We play songs with guitar chords. If you are interested in joining us, contact June Bernard. or come to a rehearsal on Thursday nights at 6:30pm in the sanctuary.

Guest And Member Musicians

South Church is a diverse community of people having many different religious and spiritual beliefs, and just as our beliefs are rich and varied so are our musical tastes. This is a wonderful attribute of South Church, and we express ourselves with our musical tastes in much the same rich and varied way. South Church invites both guest and member musicians to share their talents with the congregation.

Over the course of a few months of Sundays you will be able to hear the piano compositions of Chopin, the great Bach organ pieces, a Bob Dylan tune, a saxophone quartet, some piano jazz, the Indian shruti box, classical violin as well as Irish fiddle, African drumming, Native American flute and much more.

Chant From Different Traditions

South Church is a community that embraces differences with respect and appreciation. The 1st Sunday Chant from Different Traditions has been gathering since 2010 to explore the chants and short songs of different spiritual traditions and how we might integrate those into our own spiritual journeys and practices. 

We hum, chant and sing in English, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Latin, Arabic, Spanish & Gaelic and draw on sources that are Hindi, Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Sufi, Native American & Pagan

This is not a performing group though becoming familiar with different chants that might be used in Worship Services or at Retreats helps to support and share the communal experience.

We meet each 1st Sunday of the month  at 10:15 in the Back Balcony (9:15 in summer –often outside by the side steps) for an “educational moment” exploring different languages, holidays and traditions represented and then share a practice of chanting together for 20-25 minutes.

All are welcome. No musical or singing experience is needed – just a heart open to the sounds of being in community and the gifts of different spiritual traditions.
For more information, or to be added to the email reminder list please contact Cathy Okhuysen at

More About Our Sunday Music Program

You come to church service, settle into the pew, thankful for the hour’s respite from the weekly routines and challenges. The prelude begins - a jazz quartet playing Bach! Your heart sings as the music reawakens you! And then the following Sunday your spirit soars with the more magisterial and “church-like” music of the organ. The next week a quiet and penetrating chant or the familiar, moving songs of the South Church Folk Choir soothe your soul.

“This is truly music the UU way,” says Director of Music Ministry, Joanne Connolly, “Diversity, diversity and more diversity to feed your musical soul.”

“It is the Unitarian way to embrace complexity, to appreciate diversity,” Connolly observes. “At South Church, there is music as diverse as the people who come to its services.”

Connolly was chosen to direct the music program when Reverends Lauren Smith and Chris Holton Jablonski came to South Church in the Fall of 2011. A member of South Church for twenty-two years, Connolly already had a deep connection to the South Church community. “I was married in the church by Bob Karnan. My son was dedicated as a baby in the church." The arrival of two young, energetic, creative ministers who wanted to integrate the music program more fully into the spiritual life of the church proved irresistible to Connolly.

“I am thrilled to have Susan Adams as our pianist. She is really very talented and does so much,” says Connolly. “We also have wonderful lay-led music groups, such as the folk choir led by June Bernard-Kriegel and the chanting group organized by Cathy Okhuysen. I am also really thrilled about the music committee which has a positive, can-do attitude. Gary Fagin and his crew have worked hard to learn how to make the sound work well and to train others how to use the new sound system which was installed in 2014.”

And, of course, there is the South Church Choir which began again in December 2011. Connolly says “I feel really great about the choir’s singing in December 2012; about the commitment and the willingness of the choir members to try things out of their comfort zone. At first when introduced to “Carols Around” (with the beautiful refrain “Dona Nobis Pacem”), the choir members were a little like deer in the headlights, but they really persevered. It was very heartening and a wonderful gift to the congregation.” The choir continues to draw new members and shares music at service four times a year.

Designing a program to satisfy the wide range of musical tastes and needs of the congregation can be challenging. A survey completed of South Church members revealed that while some loved organ music, it left others cold; some wanted classical music, while others preferred folk music.

The key, says Connolly, is to honor and make room for all of those choices. Toward that end, the monthly music program alternates each week, offering performances by the South Church Folk Choir, an organist (often guest organist, Jack Myers), in-house musicians, and community musicians. The range of music is truly striking from classical chamber music to world music, jazz, and folk.

That diversity enriches the congregation’s musical experience at South Church, but also requires the congregation’s tolerance for the music choices of others. “Reverend Marta Flannagan used to ask that we ‘companion each other’ on our spiritual journeys,” Connolly recalls. “She said that we are all so different in our spiritual beliefs and needs, that it was vital to notice that diversity and celebrate it.” Connolly hopes South Church members will do the same: “Companion each other with our musical choices.”

South Church invites all to active listeners and appreciators, or singers in The South Church Choir or South Church Folk or members of the chanting group! “Be the music program you want to be at South Church.....get involved!”