MUSIC AT FIRST-PILGRIM
First-Pilgrim has always been a singing church. It’s evident from church archives that there were lively music programs in our predecessor congregations.
OUR PIPE ORGAN: The nucleus of our organ dates from 1929, when Casavant Frères of St-Hyacinthe, Québec, installed an organ in our present building, then known as Pilgrim United Church. A fire in 1957 damaged the organ, but a new console was purchased and the organ repaired.
When First and Pilgrim congregations decided to amalgamate, the idea of upgrading the organ was conceived, and gained momentum. An organ was purchased from St John’s Church of Christ, Owosso, Michigan, and transported to Hamilton. The rebuild was done by the Hamilton firm of R. A. Denton and Son; it incorporated the existing Pilgrim instrument, the organ brought from Michigan, and other pipes supplied by Denton’s. The newly rebuilt instrument was dedicated in October, 1985.
(A few facts for “organ buffs”: our organ console has four manuals [keyboards] and pedals. The organ has five divisions: Great, Swell, Solo I, Solo II, and Pedal. There are 36 ranks, adding up to over 2000 pipes.)
First-Pilgrim also has a well-maintained Yamaha grand piano in the sanctuary. We’re fortunate to have an attractive, versatile worship space with excellent acoustics.
OUR CHOIR: The large choirs found in churches in days gone by are rarer now, but “the song continues”, and our choir of ten voices remains committed to the ministry of music, striving to keep up a good standard. Our choir follows the traditional pattern of singing each Sunday from September to June, with a regular Thursday evening rehearsal. On Mothers’ and Fathers’ day we have “augmented” men’s and women’s choirs, giving people who aren’t regular choir-members a chance to participate. In the summer, when the choir is taking a well-earned holiday, musical interest is provided by solo vocalists and instrumentalists.
MUSIC DIRECTOR: Christopher Hunt has been director of music at First-Pilgrim for 25 years. He grew up in Kingston, Ontario, and was educated at Queen’s University School of Music, and at the University of Reading, England. For three decades he taught in the Department of Music Studies at Mohawk College. As piano accompanist, Chris appears frequently with tenor Michael Toby in “Hear Freedom’s Ring”, a unique musical celebration of the Underground Railroad and its links with Canada. Chris serves on the national Board of Directors of the Royal Canadian College of Organists.