St. Mark’s provides numerous opportunities for people of all ages and ability levels to sing in the choir, ring handbells, perform vocal solos or duets, or play an instrument for Sunday services.
The St. Mark’s Chancel Choir is composed of approximately 45 adults. Rehearsals are held on Thursdays from 7:30-9:30 pm from September through early June. Members choose to sing at either the 9:00 or 11:15 am service on Sundays.
The choir sings as a combined group at the 11:15 am service the second Sunday of every month as well as for special services – some with instrumentalists – including an annual Advent Lessons & Carols service, 1-2 Evensong services, a sung mass during Lent, and Christmas Eve and Easter Sunday. The group occasionally sings other large choral works (most recently Paul Winter’s Missa Gaia/Earth Mass and Ike Sturm’s Jazz Mass) about once a year.
The types of music the Chancel Choir sings are rather diverse: 16th and 17th century Latin motets, mass settings by composers such as Mozart and Haydn, a variety of 19th century works, a wide range of English anthems, works by 20th century and many living composers, African-American spirituals, and other contemporary music that incorporates elements of jazz and gospel styles. The music’s level of difficulty varies quite a bit but is always manageable.
Singers vary widely in age and experience. Although the ability to read music is helpful, it is not required. The group regularly works on developing fluency in reading music notation and improving musicianship in general. If needed, the director will work with choir members individually to help them catch up and learn the music adequately.
Please note that new members may join at any time! If consistent attendance at a weekly evening rehearsal is too big of a commitment but you are still interested in singing, please let us know. It is possible for us to make special arrangements.
Boys & Girls Choir
The Boys & Girls Choir includes children in grades 1 through 8 and sings for most Family Services (9:00 am every second Sunday of the month) from September through early June as well as for other special services throughout the year. No prior musical experience is required, but children do need to be able to read. Choir members have the opportunity to prepare for and attend the annual Royal School of Church Music summer camp. The group rehearses approximately every other week from 11:00 am to 12:30 pm downstairs in the Elders’ Room is led by Libbi Nixon. Note that children whose families do not formally belong to St. Mark’s are entirely welcome to participate.
The Teen Choir is open to children ages 13 and up as well as boys with changed voices. All are invited to participate, including teens with no formal ties to the church, as long as there is a willingness to sing sacred music. Through Spring 2017 this ensemble was a trio of teens that rehearsed with Nadine Hathaway on a weekly basis. For a variety of reasons the group is currently on hiatus. Please e-mail Jeff Kempskie if you are interested in singing with this ensemble when it starts up again.
St. Mark’s has a 3-octave Handbell Choir that rehearses in the Elders’ Room every other Wednesday from 6:45-8:00 pm. No prior experience is necessary, although the ability to read rhythm is helpful. This group is self-directed by parishioners Sarah Headley and Katherine Anderson. The Handbell Choir thinks of itself more as a club and a way for people to come together and have fun ringing handbells than as a performing ensemble, though it does play at the the morning and 5 o’clock services a few times each year. There are additional opportunities for small groups of 2-4 to ring with the Chancel Choir. New members are always welcome!
Concerts & Events
The beauty and favorable acoustics of the nave make St. Mark’s a much sought-after performance venue for musicians throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area.
Saturday, March 24, 2018 at 7:30 pm
ArcoVoce‘s next performance, titled “Ophelia,” takes its name from the first of the haunting Shostakovich Romances to poetry of symbolist poet Alexander Blok. The poem shows a grieving Ophelia at Hamlet’s bier. Shostakovich’s song cycle was one of his final works (composed in 1968), and is for soprano with piano trio accompaniment. The violin and cello parts were first performed by David Oistrakh and Mstislav Rostropovich, with the composer at the piano. Galina Vishnevskya was the soprano. The music is haunting, and has an other-worldly beauty. ArcoVoce has paired the Shostakovich cycle with Brahms’ setting of Ophelia’s songs in Hamlet, as well as piano trios of Schubert (the Notturno) and the great Beethoven Eb trio op. 70 No. 2. Musicians for this concert are soprano Rosa Lamoreaux, violinist Elizabeth Field, cellist Steven Honigberg, and pianist Steven Silverman.
Wednesday, April 25, 2018 at 7:30 pm
Organ Recital by Ben Teague, Cardiff, Wales
Friday, April 27, 2018 at 8:00 pm
Jordi Savall, Hesperion XXI and La Capella Reial de Catalunya
Saturday, April 28, 2018 at 4:00 pm
Chiarina Chamber Players Concert: Mythos and Identity
Chiarina Chamber Players presents Mythos and Identity, a concert featuring prisms of national identity and culture, invoking folklore, mythology, and an imagined past. Music to include Jean Françaix’s String Trio, Alberto Ginastera’s Pampeana No. 2 for Cello and Piano, Astor Piazzolla’s Las Cuatro Estaciones Porteñas, Primavera and Verano, and Gabriel Fauré’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in C minor, Op. 15. Alexandra Osborne, violin; Allyson Goodman, viola; Carrie Bean Stute, cello; and Efi Hackmey, piano. Those connected with the St. Mark’s community may receive a $5 discount on online tickets using promo code STMARKS5 (regular price is $15 online, $20 at the door, and $10 for students). More info and tickets at chiarina.org.
Interested in performing at St. Marks?
E-mail Director of Music Jeff Kempskie if you would you like more information or if you wish to be added to our mailing list so that you can find out about future music-related events at the church.
The St. Mark’s Music Studio currently offers voice, piano, and flute lessons to students of all ages and levels of experience. We are excited to have some new teachers with us as of Winter 2018!
Adam Caughey, tenor, originally from San Diego, CA, completed his Master of Music degree at the Peabody Conservatory as a student of Dr. Stanley Cornett. He has sung numerous operatic roles and also performed several times with the Kennedy Center Opera Chorus. He is currently the tenor section leader at St. Mark’s and has taught in the Music Studio sing 2015.
Stephanie Ng has been top solo prize winner in half a dozen piano competitions in addition having experience playing with orchestras and at several music festivals. Stephanie is from San Francisco, she earned her Artist Diploma from the Colburn School Conservatory of Music in Los Angeles, and she received her Master’s degree at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Learn more about Stephanie and hear her play here.
Jeff Kempskie, St. Mark’s Director of Music, has played piano professionally for 22 years in a variety of contexts – churches, jazz ensembles, musical theater productions, a rock band, and as an accompanist for choirs from elementary school through the college level. He enjoys working with people of all ages and ability levels in his small studio. Read Jeff’s bio here.
Julia Morris, a native of Northern Virginia, is a graduate of Vanderbilt University with a Bachelor of Music degree and a double major in Economics. Presently she is pursuing her M. M. degree in Flute Performance at George Mason University. Major venue performances include Carnegie Hall, Kennedy Center, Meyerhoff Hall, George Mason University, Vanderbilt University and Aix en Provence, France. She is an active private flute teacher and clinician in high schools in the Washington Metropolitan area. Competition winnings include: Asian American Music Society, Virginia Music Teachers National Association and Tennessee Music Teachers National Association Young Artist competition. Private instructors include Angela Jones-Reus, UGA, Alice Weinreb, NSO, Philip Dikeman, Vanderbilt University and Jeff Coffin of the Dave Matthews Band.
The Music Studio has room for other music professionals to offer lessons through St. Mark’s. Contact Jeff Kempskie for more information.