First Parish Church is tremendously blessed with a thriving music ministry. Our Sanctuary Choir, Women's Ensemble ("Sweet Spirit"), Men's Ensemble ("The Bow Tie Guys"), and Handbell Choir praise God along with several vocal and instrumental soloists. We have a host of people who love to "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord." Making it all happen is our Director of Music Ministries, Wendell Scott Purrington.
Wendell Scott Purrington, organist and choir director, has been involved in church music since he began singing in children's choir at age eight and playing the church organ a few years later. He holds a Bachelor of Music Education (voice) from Boston Conservatory, and a Master of Music (choral conducting) from New England Conservatory. He was the choral director for the Portsmouth (NH) school district for 36 years, was musical director for six summers at the Prescott Park Arts festival, and has served as guest conductor for several festival choruses in New England. He has directed the Seacoast Community Chorus for over 25 years, and is the co-director of the Fourth street Jazz Choir in Dover (NH). At First Parish, Wendell oversees the music program and conducts the sanctuary choir, men's ensemble, and handbell choir. He also coaches and accompanies the women's ensemble. He finds a strong connection between music and worship which helps to link our hearts, minds, souls, and spirits to God through a wide variety of musical offerings.
Terrie Ilaria grew up in Lexington, MA and is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Hartt College of Music. She taught piano, voice, special needs music and musical theater classes and accompanied recitals and concerts at music/arts schools in New York City, Connecticut, New Hampshire and Maine. Terrie has been teaching piano and voice at her Steinway Music Studio since 1998 and has worked extensively as music director in area theaters. She lives in Kittery, sings in the Seacoast Community Chorus and has been the First Parish Music Associate for five years. Terrie is an essential part of the Music Ministries team.
The Sanctuary Choir provides musical leadership and inspiration that is vital to our worship services. Choral music selections vary from the classics to gospel and contemporary pieces. There are two rehearsal times available to choir members: Thursdays at 7:00 pm or Sundays at 5:00 pm. There are no auditions for the Sanctuary Choir, an ensemble of choral artists who love to learn, sing, and praise God. Just come to a rehearsal! It's an exciting ministry that you're welcome to join!
The First Parish Men's Ensemble began as a quartet, and gradually more voices were added, bringing the total to ten talented singers today. Each is a member of the Sanctuary Choir, and several perform with other are choral ensembles, e.g., Seacoast Community Chorus. The group, known as "The Bow Tie Guys," performs regularly during worship and has appeared at countless events in the seacoast area.
The First Parish Handbell Choir is an adult ensemble of eager musicians which plays regularly for worship and concerts. We are blessed with a 3-octave set of Schulmerich handbells. Rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings 6:00-7:00 PM in the sanctuary. Learning new skills and performing glorious music make being a member of First Parish handbells a rewarding and meaningful way to praise God.