Music plays an intentional and meaningful role in the life of Freemason Street. In worship, it is purposefully designed to reflect our community’s effort to seek spiritual depth and divine interaction. Our choices musically seek to avoid oversimplified theology and superficial listening and singing experiences. God’s majesty, mystery, grace, spirit, complexity, and beauty as well as humankind’s diversity of experience and expression is enthusiastically explored through music from a diversity of centuries, nations and languages.
Music is meaningful for us beyond worship as well, affording opportunities to listen, to laugh, and to celebrate as we gather for the Music Series at Freemason Street, talent shows, and community programs.
There is an array of opportunity for participation in the many ensembles listed below!
The principal ensemble of the church is the Adult Choir, comprised of about 30 devoted and gifted vocal musicians. Anchored by a professional core and collegiate choral interns, the choir sings throughout the calendar year, leading worship music for the congregation and singing a rich catalogue of finely crafted music, reflective of the depth, complexity and beauty of the Creator. From Brahms, Lauridsen, Mozart, Beethoven and Bernstein to Spirituals, the choir’s skillful evocation of the spirit through singing has become a hallmark of our worship.
A subset of the Adult Choir, our Pre-Worship Ensemble is a small group of about 8 singers, principally formed by our professional and intern leadership. Each week they join our own instrumental musicians to set the tone for worship with meditative music and substantive texts that help us transition from the bustle of life to the sacred wonder of worship.
One of the exciting and unique components of music here is our Freemason Street Brass Choir. This all-volunteer ensemble of skilled professional and semi-professional players brings brilliance, majesty and excitement to special services of worship and community events. Like the Adult Choir, the Brass Choir plays a variety of music, grounded in a rich, classical core that frequently includes the multi-choir music of composers like Gabrielli and Palestrina, played around our large balcony.
The Handbell Choir chimes every Sunday in worship, and occasionally presents special music. Comprised principally of our church’s youth, this vibrant group has long been a part of the fabric of FSBC’s worship experience.
Our Instrumental Team includes gifted musicians whose solo playing adds color and depth to our worship experience. Trumpet, violin, flute and recorder are regularly heard in our worship, as are occasional contributions of other talented players.
The 1917 Tower Bells
In addition to the music which fills the air inside our building, we are also blessed to have in our steeple a set of authentic, vintage Tower Chimes which ring to the entire surrounding community. Mounted in the church steeple just one level below the chimes themselves, the chimestand is rarely seen by anyone other than individuals who play them (our principal player is friend of FSBC, Sean Bilby). Individuals who would like to see the bell tower mechanism or to learn to ring the bells at FSBC should contact the church.
The overall music program is led by Director of Music Robert Shoup, who is a recognized choral leader in southeastern Virginia. His ongoing work with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra and Virginia Arts Festival helps provide opportunities for Freemason Street to collaborate with the region’s finest singers and instrumental musicians.
Our principal Keyboard Artist is Dr. Andrey Kasparov, also a recognized classical musician in Hampton Roads. Dr. Kasparov’s continued success as a recording artist and international touring performer are reflections of the skill and insight he brings to his service at Freemason Street. At the organ and the piano, Andrey’s musicianship invites immersion and inspiration.
Our Director of Youth Instrumental Music is Billy Batte, whose vast and varied performance experience informs his leadership of our young players. A skilled violinist and arranger, Billy routinely creates custom pieces for the Handbell Choir, and he is a key part of our leadership at FSBC.
For more information on any of these programs, please contact the church!