Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church believes that the congregation is the foundational choir for glorifying God in worship, but the foundational group in our music program is the Chancel Choir. This SATB, multi-cultural, multi-generational group is open to anyone of any age who wishes to praise God through singing. We seek to sing the Lord’s song, to belong to a caring group of Christians with similar interests, to improve our skills, and to have fun doing it! The ability to read music is not a requirement. During the 11:00 worship service two or three Sundays a month, members of the Chancel Choir lead the congregation in song to connect with one another and with God. Under the direction of Teresa McCoy, Director of Music and Worship Arts, the Chancel Choir also presents seasonal works and musical productions throughout the year. Rehearsals are on Thursdays, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., in the Sanctuary.
GPC has a great tradition of excellence in handbell ringing. Our premier adult handbell ensemble, the Canterbury Ringers, is affiliated with the Handbell Musicians of America. Each spring, they participate in a large festival held in Ocean City, Maryland, with hundreds of other ringers from across five states. This choir’s primary mission is to provide musical leadership in Sunday worship approximately once per month. Those who have a desire to ring praise to God and who have music-reading ability are encouraged to speak to the Director of Music and Worship Arts, Teresa McCoy, about the possibility of joining. Participation is limited. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays, from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m., in the Sanctuary.
A workshop for beginning adult ringers is offered each year before the beginning of the fall season.
The Intergenerational Ringers are a less advanced, multi-generational group of ringers that includes adults, senior adults, and youth members. If someone has not been introduced to ringing techniques but is interested in learning more about handbells, this could be a great place for them to start. A workshop is offered before the beginning of each fall season to teach the basics of ringing. Speak with Teresa McCoy, Director of Music and Worship Arts, or Paul Byssainthe, Assistant Director of Music and Worship Arts, about your level of interest in ringing handbells with this laid-back yet hard-working group. Rehearsals are on Thursdays, from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m., in Handbell Haven.
Cherub Choir — Pre-K, Kindergarten, and 1st Grade
The Cherub Choir is open to our youngest budding singers and musicians who want to sing praise to God in worship. The program includes singing, music theory, rhythm exercises, Melody bells, and other instruments. The Cherub Choir sings during Sunday worship services approximately five times per year, as announced. This group is currently conducted by Teresa McCoy, Director of Music and Worship Arts. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays, from 5:30 to 6:00 p.m., in the Choral Room, as part of GPC’s FourthNight activities.
Joy Choirs — 2nd through 5th Grades
The Joy Choirs are three groups that meet from September through May and present anthems during worship services six to seven times per year. Programming includes the Joy Chimes for 2nd and 3rd graders, under the direction of Kris Maldarelli; the Joy Ringers for 4th and 5th graders, under the direction of Carol Anderson; and the Joy Singers for the older children, which is all about singing, dancing, and playing other instruments, under the leadership of Teresa McCoy, Director of Music and Worship Arts. The children participate in special programming during the Advent/Christmas season, and present a concert in the spring. The program has a team of leaders dedicated to inspiring and educating our children while having fun! Rehearsals are on Wednesdays, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., in Fellowship Hall, Handbell Haven, and the Sanctuary, as part of GPC’s FourthNight activities.
Praise & Worship Bands
GPC is blessed to have three Praise & Worship Bands that rotate into the leadership of our 9:30 contemporary worship service.
The Adult Praise Band is our flagship praise ensemble and is always looking for new members. If you play piano, drums, guitar, bass, or like to sing contemporary Christian music, you are invited to join us!
Middle and Senior High School students are encouraged to check out Burning Bush, GPC’s youth praise ensemble. Singers and instrumentalists are welcome and encouraged to join this group. This youth choir leads worship approximately once per month.
A third band, called Living Proof, grew out of our Vacation Bible School band a few years ago. This band includes adults, youth, and children.
Speak with Teresa McCoy, Director of Music and Worship Arts, if you would like more information about any of these groups, including questions about repertoire, leadership, or practice times.
At GPC, we are proud of our eclectic, diverse, and thriving immigrant community, and that is reflected in our music groups now, as well. Two ensembles with roots in our African population are currently participating in worship on a rotating basis: Christian Women’s Fellowship Choir and the International Ensemble. Their rehearsal times and spaces vary, so speak to Teresa McCoy, Director of Music and Worship Arts, or one of our ministers for more information about how to get involved.
Montgomery Philharmonic is a community-based orchestra that rehearses, through the GPC’s generosity, at the church and performs in the Sanctuary two to three times per year on Sunday nights. They have also participated in Easter morning worship services, and in August 2014—in gratitude to GPC in general, and to Ann Y. Schmidt, Director of Music, in particular, for her support over the years and for facilitating the partnership between the church and the orchestra—two dozen members played Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus Overture for the postlude on Ann’s last Sunday at GPC.
Orchestra members come from a variety of professions with one focus in mind—the enjoyment of learning and making music together. They consider themselves a teaching orchestra and rarely turn anyone away.
This year, the Montgomery Philharmonic marks its 11th Anniversary playing music inspired by various things. Concert dates for the 2016–2017 season at GPC are October 23 – Inspired by Dance, March 26 – Inspired by Nature, and May 21 – Inspired by America. The concerts are on Sunday nights at 7:00 p.m.
The orchestra will also performs at two other locations. In December, they will accompany the Central Maryland Chorale on Vaughan Williams’ Hodie. In February, they will again partner with Watkins Mill High School students in the school auditorium. This concert—whose theme is Inspired by Youth—will feature winners of the Bernie Rappaport Middle School Young Artist Competition.
The orchestra’s website (montgomeryphilharmonic.org) provides information about the music they perform in concert, including program notes, and video and audio recordings, as well as information about their community outreach programs.
Special Music Events
Gaithersburg Presbyterian Church has one of the most vibrant church music programs in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. We are pleased to present our own members and musical groups in special concerts and productions, but we also host numerous outside groups, concerts, and events throughout the year. GPC has hosted traveling college choirs, recitals, and other types of musical or theatrical events.
From 2003 to 2014, GPC hosted a Visiting Artist Series, which brought nationally recognized choral clinicians here to work with our Chancel Choir and handbell choirs. Click here for a list of clinicians and short history about the inspiration for the program.
Our 2016 Visiting Artist event, entitled “HeartSongs: A Praise & Worship Workshop” and held the weekend of September 16–18, featured Zamar Music Group, led by Paul Byssainthe, Jr., our Assistant Director of Music and Worship Arts. The Workshop was held Friday night and Saturday afternoon, and there was a Showcase on Saturday night. The worship services at both 9:30 and 11:00 on Sunday morning included Praise & Worship music, with Zamar and a small group of GPC praise band singers leading the congregation. It was a wonderful weekend!
Each January, we host the National Capital Band of the Salvation Army for a Sunday evening concert and hymn sing. This tradition began in 2008 and has continued every year since then. In 2016, however, the event was rescheduled and held on Sunday, February 28, due to the January blizzard.
Please consult this website periodically for information on these and other upcoming events.
Also, from time to time, we take our music-making outside our lovely campus.
Click here to read about a trip that Ann Y. Schmidt (former Director of Music) and several Chancel Choir members took in June 2009 to sing at Carnegie Hall!
Click here to read about a patriotic concert at DAR Constitution Hall, in Washington, D.C., in October 2013 in which Ann Y. Schmidt (former Director of Music) and several Chancel Choir members participated.