Thursday, April 17, 2014

The YOU in UUMN - Karen Bauman

Over the years, many UUMN members have said "YES" when asked to serve in a leadership position within the organization. In advance of the summer conference, we want you to meet some of our current leaders. Please look for them in San Diego and let them know how you'd like to be involved!

Karen Bauman, Liaison to Music Leadership Certification (MLC)

My UU music leading involvement began as it may have for you – with a phone call from a Music Committee chair. Mine was from the Duluth, Minnesota UU congregation where my family and I had just recently started attending:

“I noticed on your visitor card that you play the piano and have experience leading hymns. Our pianist just quit and we could really use your help. Are you available?”

Karen Bauman
Liaison to Music Leadership Certification
From that point in 1998, I have led the music journey with this congregation through five locations, the end of a 20-year ministry, 4 years of interim ministry and now a 3-year settled ministry still considered new by most folks.

I joined UUMN seeking inspiration, connection, and resources to help my congregation grow and prosper. I had strong support from the congregation for becoming credentialed and because of my education through the UUMN, our music ministry has deepened bringing added inspiration to this faith community’s spiritual life. Attending conferences has opened me to a world of possibilities for music in UU worship and community. Discovering the richness of music resources that clearly sound our UU values has blessed my congregation with awesome choral selections, solos of all sorts and a UU musical grounding that would not be happening otherwise up here in northern Minnesota.

The experiences I had while learning so much motivated me further into leadership within the UUMN. I see so much potential within this organization for invigorating our denomination! It is an honor to serve as the Liaison to Music Leadership Certification.

Visit the UUA website to learn more about the Music Leadership Certification program.

Monday, March 31, 2014

The YOU in UUMN - David Glasgow

In our recent survey, seventy UUMN members described themselves as composers. They were invited to submit a composer profile as part of a series, "The YOU in UUMN."

David Glasgow
David M. Glasgow is a Pennsylvania-based pianist, vocalist, composer, actor, and educator.

A “by-ear” pianist since he was old enough to reach the keyboard, David began private piano technique and theory instruction at age six, and by age eight was accompanying his elementary-school chorus and writing his own songs. At his high-school commencement ceremony, he and two other vocal soloists performed a piece he had composed for the occasion, backed by the school choir and accompanied by piano and solo flute.

David received a Bachelor of Arts (cum laude) in Music Composition & Theory from Dickinson College, where he was also honored with both the Emil R. and Tamar Weiss Prize in the Creative Arts and the Gould Memorial Drama Prize. His graduate work in theology earned him a Master of Divinity from Lancaster Theological Seminary, where several of his original choral compositions were debuted.  After seminary he returned to his alma mater to serve on the Music faculty at Dickinson, where he taught piano, accompanied vocal ensembles, coached voice students, and served as Musical Director for musical theatre productions until 2013.

In addition to serving as Music Director for the Unitarian Universalists of the Cumberland Valley in Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania, David has been a co-coordinator and presenter since 2010 for the annual Joseph Priestley District Worship Arts Festival, and the Music Coordinator for UUA General Assemblies in 2013-14.  He is a Credentialed Music Leader in the UU Musicians Network and now serves as an advisor to the UUA Music Leader Certification Program.

David sings, plays, and writes for vocal trio Three Twelve, whose album Something Begun, (available on iTunes and elsewhere) includes eleven original Glasgow compositions.  For performance schedule, composition index, commission information, and more, visit

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The YOU in UUMN - Lane Tracy

In our recent survey, seventy UUMN members described themselves as composers. They were invited to submit a composer profile as part of a new series, "The YOU in UUMN."

How to Become a UU Composer 

My name is Lane Tracy. I became a Unitarian in 1953 when I joined the choir of the First Unitarian Church in Ithaca, NY. My first attempt at composing choral music was in 1962, when I was singing in the choir at First Unitarian Church of Albany, NY. I was studying for a Master's degree in Education at the time and had only two required courses left to take. For the fun of it I signed up for an extra course in music composition.

The course required that I compose something so I decided to write a hymn based on words adapted from a poem by Kenneth Patton, a well known Unitarian minister and author. The hymn grew into an anthem for SATB choir and organ. The church organist helped me with the organ part and the choir director agreed to have the choir sing the anthem at a service. The work, entitled Yet Will I Sing, was duly performed and taped and I got an A in the course. I was hooked.

Reality intervened in the form of a full-time teaching position as a math teacher and then as a member of the Peace Corps teaching business math at Haile Sellassie I University in Ethiopia. That was followed by four years as a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington and then a position as Asst. Prof. of Management at Ohio University, not to mention marriage and the arrival of three children. Composing music took a back seat and then a long snooze while I wrote articles and books on living systems theory and its applications to management.

I was lured back into composition by Les Kleen, a fellow member at the UU Fellowship of Athens, Ohio and an Asst. Prof. of Music at OU. The Fellowship of about 40 members didn't have a regular choir but Les occasionally got the singers among us together for a performance. One of those performances was of my anthem. That in turn moved me to set the fellowship's Mission to music. As my teaching duties lessened and I began to think about retirement I realized that I could take courses in music theory, composition, instrumentation and orchestration for free just by walking across the campus. I also started writing poetry and, beginning in 2000, setting some of my words to music.

The results of my efforts, nearly 30 works of music in a mostly classical idiom, are available at and can be downloaded and copied freely for noncommercial purposes. I consider myself to be an amateur composer and therefore do not charge for performance of my music.

My hymns and anthems express UU views of the world, particularly the views of religious naturalism. RN is one of the many theological branches of UU but, as one of the newer ones, has few hymns or anthems to represent it. My latest work is an eight-movement Missa Natura, not yet on the website, that begins with the Big Bang. I hope it does for religious naturalism what Missa Gaia did for the Earth-centered branches.

Monday, March 3, 2014

The YOU in UUMN: Elizabeth Alexander

In our recent survey, seventy UUMN members described themselves as composers. They were invited to submit a composer profile as part of a new series, "The YOU in UUMN."

Elizabeth Alexander
I was raised in the Carolinas and Appalachian Ohio by a piano teacher mother who taught me to love
music, and a minister father who taught me to love language. We believed in a tolerant God, social justice, hard work, speaking our minds, harmonizing loudly, and eating waffles on Sunday nights. I wrote many songs when I was a teenager, some of which were not too bad. All in all, it was a pretty good way to grow up.

In college I learned that the canon of music was bigger and more amazing than I’d ever dreamed, and that music theory held more expressive possibilities than I could ever fully explore. After nine years in the academic world, with a fresh doctoral degree in hand, I set out to become a “freelance composer.” The only problem was that I had absolutely no idea what that meant.

Sure, I knew how to compose colorful works for orchestras and art songs for professional vocalists, but I was not passionate about writing this kind of music. What was my music’s purpose? For whom was I writing? I didn’t even know what my music was supposed to sound like. Much of the time, I felt lost.

From time to time — “on the side” — I would write a choral piece for my own Unitarian Universalist congregation. Those compositions were always fulfilling to me, but the academically trained voice inside my head would inevitably chastise me for not spending more time composing big impressive works. “Silly girl,” it whispered.. “You will never become a ‘real composer’ if you keep writing this kind of music!”

In 1998, against the advice of said voice, I took myself to the UUMN Annual Conference in Providence, Rhode Island. I could hardly believe that such a thing existed — a collection of talented musicians committed to liberal religious worship through music. These were the people for whom I wanted to write music.

I boarded the return flight with my purse and my suitcase, but the voice inside my head remained behind, left to fend for itself by the banks of the wild Woonasquatucket. Back at home, I wholeheartedly threw myself into composing music in which the sacred and the secular danced side by side...for the past 16 years.

Hmmm...about that music. Some of it is appropriate for Sunday morning anthems, while some is better suited for the concert hall. Some songs contain religious concepts — prayer, blessings, God, soul — while others celebrate peace, gratitude, spring, music, protest, tenacity or mangoes. I find lyrics in poems, proverbs, prayers, prose, Prairie Home Companion monologues, and sometimes deep within myself. But as far as I’m concerned, all of it is music for liberal religious worship, celebrating or seeking the divine. And happily, that knowledge finally helped me understand what my music was supposed to sound like.

At the same time, some of my music is more than just a little Unitarian Universalist. I’ve set texts by historic luminaries like Emerson, Whittier and Fahs, as well as by a dozen UU ministers and poets. I owe the inspiration of my choral manifesto Cherish Your Doubt to a great piece of writing by Rev. Robert Weston. And my concert-length musical review, Go Out!, includes a setting of The Edict of Torda, in an archaic Hungarian dialect. (Yes, I’m a card-carrying Liberal Religious Nerd.)

I make my living composing and publishing my music, and interested musicians can learn about it at It’s a pretty cool website which allows users to search and sort by genre, voicing and difficulty. Users can also see lists of music organized by Theme (like “Flower Communion” or “Unitarian Universalist”) or Musical Style (like “Consummately Classical” or “Genre-Benders.” Along with music for purchase, there are also Complimentary Choral Score Packets!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

The YOU in UUMN: Michael Loui

In our recent survey, seventy UUMN members described themselves as composers. They were invited to submit a composer profile as part of a new series, "The YOU in UUMN." Today we begin sharing those profiles:

Michael Loui
I like to tell people that I direct the Children's Choir at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Urbana-Champaign, and in my spare time, I teach electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois. I have composed and arranged music for piano since I was in high school. Except for one course in music theory in high school and one in college, I have had no formal training in music, and none at all in choral conducting. When I became director of the Children's Choir in 2002, I found that some of the music that I wanted to program was in the wrong key for the children's vocal range. So I had to transpose the music. At that point, I decided to change the harmony, and then I added an instrumental part.

I have composed one anthem, "Thank You, World," a Thanksgiving hymn for children. The words of the anthem are inspired by the text of a children's book with the same title by Alice McGinty. You can find a recording of the anthem here:

The music is available from me directly (e-mail

Thursday, February 20, 2014

What’s the UUMN Board talking about these days?

left to right: Thomas Poole, Dana Decker, Donna Fisher,
 Jeff Hamrick, Catherine Massey, Jason Oby,  Julie Shaw,
Tim Anderson. Not pictured: Connie Jahrmarkt
Every winter, our Board of Trustees gathers for a face-to-face meeting. This year, eight of our members (pictured at right) braved some fairly inhospitable weather in Charlotte, NC in order to vision about the future of our organization. So what were they discussing this year? Along with reviewing reports from our wonderful program directors, the Board considered exciting new opportunities for collaboration with our colleagues at the UUA, as well as discussing UUMN’s presence at the upcoming General Assembly in Providence. Collaboration with our fellow religious leaders in LREDA and UUMA also figured in the agenda for the meetings as we take the first steps in implementing the recommendations set forth in the report shared last year from the Task Force for Excellence in Shared Ministry (

Your Board would like to hear what YOU are thinking about these days. Names and contact information are available on our website,

Friday, January 31, 2014

How Do You Communicate?

Please take the survey and let us know.

If you are a member of UUMN, you will have received an email with a link to our Communications  Survey. Please take a moment to fill it out so that you can give UUMN valuable information on how you communicate. (On the average, our survey testers completed the survey in just under two minutes!) Are you a Facebooker? A tweeter? A texter? Or none of the above? Go to the link in your email and let us know how we can reach you.