There is no doubt about it – we are blessed with one unbelievable music program, directed by Dr. Joe Utterback. At First Congregational Church of Stratford, we consider music to be an integral part of worship and outreach to the greater community. Although our music program centers around our outstanding Austin organ and Yamaha grand piano, you’ll frequently find our sanctuary graced with a variety of musical tones, from guitars to flutes to violins.
There are opportunities for children and adults alike in our music programs. We nurture both a Sunday School and adult choir for those who like to sing; a bell choir; and individual participation for those who really want to shine. In addition, our Rose Window Concert series features internationally renowned performers and local artists, as well as our choir.
Make a Joyful Noise unto the Lord .... All Ye Lands.
Sunday School Choir
As part of our Sunday School worship experience, our children make a joyful noise each week rehearsing or performing in our sanctuary.
We enjoy the talents of our Senior Choir or individual soloists each Sunday, as well as during our special Advent music program and our Palm Sunday Concert. Dr. Joe welcomes all who have an interest in music to join the Senior Choir rehearsals on Thursday nights from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m.
If singing isn’t your strongpoint, perhaps you’d like to ring our bells. We have two sets of choir chimes that are frequently accompanied by Dr. Joe on the Zimbelstern (a set of mechanically operated rotating bells mounted in the organ loft among the organ pipes). Meetinghouse Ringers rehearse Mondays at 4:00 p.m.
Palm Sunday Oratorio Choir
60-70 singers rehearse for 12 weeks prior to this Palm Sunday event. This special group includes members of the Senior Choir and interested vocalists from churches in the surrounding communities from Fairfield to New Haven. Dr. Joe has composed special music for this concert every year since he began as Music Director in 1996.
Dr. Joe encourages and nurtures children and adults alike to share their gifts with the congregation.
The Rose Window Concert Series
Throughout the year, our Director of Music, Dr. Joe Utterback, presents a series of concerts featuring nationally and internationally renown performers, local artists and our choir.
Past concerts have included such acclaimed performers as the Joe Carter Samba Rio Trio, David Allen Wehr, Cynthia Raim and Dr. Andrew Shenton. For the past several years, our beloved tenor Michael Jovovich has drawn a huge crowd with his popular "Michael and Friends" concert.
The Rose Window Concert Series also includes our Fat Sunday New Orleans Jazz service and our annual Palm Sunday Concert.
April 13 at 4 PM: 72nd Annual Palm Sunday Concert celebrating the 375th anniversary of the founding of Stratford and the First Congregational Church. Featuring Requiem by Fauré and the premiere of ‘Tis the Gift to be Simple by Dr. Joe Utterback. With Allison Fay, soprano; Michael Jovovich, tenor; Galen Tate, organ; Joshua Toman, flute; Dr. Joe Utterback, conductor and pianist; Carol Woodman, soprano/alto; Tom Woodman, baritone; and the Palm Sunday Concert Choir, including choristers from the First Congregational Church of Stratford, Stratford United Methodist Church and Christ Episcopal Church
March 30 at 3 PM: Ali Ryerson, flute, and Joe Carter, guitar
October 6 at 3 PM: Oktoberfest with Allison Fay, soprano; Michael Jovovich, tenor; Beth Palmer, piano; Dr. Joe Utterback, piano; Carol Woodman, alto; and Tom Woodman, baritone
October 7 at 3 PM: Oktoberfest with Allison Fay, soprano; Michael Jovovich, tenor; Dr. Joe Utterback, piano; Carol Woodman, alto; and Tom Woodman, baritone
January 20 at 3 PM: Michael and Friends starring Michael Jovovich, tenor, and Dr. Joe Utterback, piano
March 24 at 4 PM: 71st Annual Palm Sunday Concert featuring the premiere of Newtown Trilogy, dedicated to the loved ones of Sandy Hook Elementary School. With Allison Fay, soprano; Michael Jovovich, tenor; Ulysses Squitieri, treble; Joshua Toman, flute; Dr. Joe Utterback, pianist and conductor; Jeffrey Wood, organ; Carol Woodman, alto; Tom Woodman, baritone; the Palm Sunday Concert Choir; and the Stratford United Methodist Church Choir, directed by Rev. Meg Williams
April 14 at 3 PM: Ali Ryerson, flute, and Joe Carter, guitar
May 4 at 7:30 PM: All Variation Program with David Allen Wehr, piano. Featuring Variations on a Waltz of Diabelli (Beethoven); Variations on a Hungarian Song (Brahms); Variations in F Minor (Haydn); and Tuxedo Blues Variations (Utterback)