Music is important in the life of our congregation both as a means of spiritual expression and as an outreach ministry.
Our 30-40 member choir contributes to Sunday worship services with anthems and choral responses. The choir sings a variety of sacred musical selections often accompanied by organ or piano, and sometimes other instruments as well. Often, individual choir members enhance worship with solo musical selections.
Any church member or regular visitor who can carry a tune and read music is invited to join the choir! The choir meets for rehearsal most Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. before 10:30 a.m. worship service during the months September through June.
Director of Music
Michael Hanawalt is Director of Choral Activities at Wichita State University, where he
conducts the Concert Chorale, the Women’s Glee Club, and teaches courses in conducting
and choral literature. Additionally, he serves as Chorus Director of the Wichita Symphony
Orchestra Chorus and Director of Music at University Congregational Church. Prior to his
appointment at Wichita State, he served as Visiting Instructor of Music at St. Olaf College,
where he conducted the Chapel Choir and Viking Chorus. Dr. Hanawalt was a founding
member of the professional male vocal ensemble Cantus, serving as both its Executive
Director and singing as part of the touring ensemble. Throughout his tenure with the
organization, he recorded twelve CDs and performed in or oversaw the booking of over 500
concerts, including collaborations with the King’s Singers, the Boston Pops, the St. Paul
Chamber Orchestra, and the Minnesota Orchestra.
Dr. Hanawalt is active as a tenor soloist, winning competitions sponsored by the Schubert
Club and Thursday Musical. Recent solo performances include W. A. Mozart’s Requiem at
Tarleton State University, the Evangelist in J. S. Bach’s Weihnachts-Oratorium with the Florida
State University Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir, and the Evangelist in Bach’s
Matthäus-Passion at the Bethany College Messiah Festival of the Arts. He regularly serves as
guest conductor for honor choirs, and his choral arrangements are published by Boosey &
Hawkes, the Niel A. Kjos Music Company, and Colla Voce. Dr. Hanawalt holds a B.M. in
Vocal Performance from St. Olaf College, an M.M. in Choral Conducting from Michigan
State University, and a Ph.D. in Choral Music Education from The Florida State University.
The sanctuary is graced with a stunningly-displayed Schlicher pipe organ, a concert grand piano and a fine harpsichord. Locally well-known classical pianist/organist Helen Griffin has shared her musical gifts with our UCC worship experience for nearly twenty years.
Special Music Programs
During most Easter and Christmas seasons, the choir performs an expanded musical program, often with orchestral accompaniment. For example, on Easter Sunday in 2012, the choir, along with a 32-piece orchestra, performed “Gloria,” a sacred cantata by contemporary composer Karl Jenkins
Choir members contribute their talents to other church programs and events throughout the year. Most notable, the choir’s annual “Revelations” program, a fund-raising event for our student musical scholarships, offers dinner and a light-hearted evening of musical performances.
Music Student Scholarship Program
For many years, UCC has supported an outreach ministry in the form of modest scholarships for 10-15 college students majoring in vocal music. These students contribute their talents to the chancel choir and other church programs, and in return, receive support and nurturing from a caring Christian community. Many students eventually move away from Wichita to pursue dreams and careers, but not before establishing life-long friendships and ties with UCC members.