Music for Adults:
The church’s flagship ensemble, the FPC Sanctuary
Choir is one of the premiere adult church choirs in the
Midwest. With a membership of 85 volunteer singers, the Sanctuary
Choir offers a variety of great choral music at two worship services on
Sunday mornings from September through May, and select Sundays
during the summer including the church’s annual Jazz Liturgy during
the Bix Jazz Festival. The choir has a rich history of providing great
music in the Quad Cities, having been featured for over two decades as
part of the Quad City Symphony Orchestra’s Holiday Pops concerts
and twice on national PBS-TV. The Sanctuary Choir has commissioned
and premiered a number of choral works and arrangements, including
anthems by such renowned composers as William Mathias, Howard
Helvey, John Gere, Gary Fry, Stephen Mager, and Mack Wilberg;
building on the choir’s commitment to creating new music, the 2017-
2018 season features a new commission by Hollywood film composer
Jay Flood. The choir has also worked with such distinguished
composers and conductors as Jester Hairston, Andrew Carter, and
Dale Warland. In the summer of 2018, the choir will make its first
international tour with a music outreach trip to Germany.
An auditioned subset of the Sanctuary Choir, the Chamber Chorale
presents music intended for small ensembles primarily of the Western
classical tradition. Made up of approximately 20 skilled vocalists, the
Chamber Chorale sings annually at the church’s Christmas Concerts, in
addition to other special services throughout the year.
The adult handbell choir of the church, the Vesper Bells is an
auditioned ensemble of thirteen players who ring two five-octave sets of
Schulmerich handbells, a five-octave set of Whitechapel handbells and
a three-octave set of Suzuki Choir chimes. They ring regularly for
worship, and are featured annually at the church’s Christmas Concerts
and Good Friday Tenebrae service.
The newly-formed Kildalton Quartet, named for the church’s beloved
wooden replica of the cross at FPC’s sister church on the Scottish isle
of Islay, is an advanced handbell chamber ensemble. Each of the four
players utilize a special technique whereby they ring double the typical
amount of bells.
Music for Youth:
The Celebration Singers is a mixed choir for youth in sixth through
twelfth grades. Their outstanding musical achievements have been
recognized with appearances on the church's televised Christmas
Concerts, and with an invitation to be the back-up choir for Barry
Manilow at the iWireless Center.
Formed during the 1999-2000 season, the Cecelian Carolers is a select
group of girls, drawn through auditions from girls in grades six through
twelve already actively involved in the music ministry of the church. The
Cecelian Carolers (named for the patron saint of music) was created at
the request of the girls as the female counterpart of the Cathedral
The newly-formed Matin Bells is a beginning handbell ensemble for
youth in sixth through twelfth grades. Students learn the basics of
handbell ringing technique and ensemble playing, and provide music
periodically during the program year.
All first through fifth graders are invited to sing with the Kirkwood Choir,
which provides music for worship monthly throughout the program year.
Christian education, score reading, part singing, and vocal production
are emphasized in this choir. The Kirkwood Choir is under the direction
of Linda Bengfort.
The Sunday School membership of four-year-olds and Kindergartners
sing in the Cherub Choir, which provides music periodically during
worship. It is never too early to learn to sing God's praises at First Pres!
The Cherub Choir is under the direction of Kathy Middleton.
Musikgarten is a licensed music ministry curriculum for infants, babies,
and toddlers with their parents. It uses sacred music to involve the
whole child -- the child’s desire for language, the body’s urge to move,
the brain’s attention to patterns, the ear’s lead in initiating
communication, and voice’s response to sounds. This group meets on
The Sanctuary Choir and orchestra
Music is commanded in Scripture! The
innumerable times we are commanded to "sing
to the Lord" or "come into his presence with
singing" make it apparent that God must enjoy
music. The Music Ministry of First Presbyterian
is under the direction of Matthew Bishop,
Director of Music, Alex Gilson, Principal
Organist and Assistant Music Director, Linda
Bengfort, Assistant Choral Director, and Kathy
Middleton, Assistant Choral Director for Young
The fully-graded program currently has seven
singing choirs: the Sanctuary Choir, the
Chamber Chorale, the Celebration Singers,
the Kirkwood Choir, the Cecelian Carolers,
and the Cherub Choir. The program also offers
adult and youth handbell choir ensemblesl.
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