Choir & Music in the time of COVID

This spring, as we grappled with canceling shows and services, and began rethinking the 2020-2021 year, it became clear that airborne spread of the COVID-19 virus through breath was of particular concern. News headlines flashed with high infection rates among choirs who rehearsed together and churches who sang hymns in services. Then, the National Association of Teachers of Singing along with the American Choral Directors Association and other prominent organizations gathered medical, scientific, and music professionals for a presentation on the risks of singing and potential avenues during this time. The consensus was that singing in groups is not safe, and we don’t yet have a way to make it safe. 

Globally, professionals and researchers are exploring every avenue they can think of to create safer conditions, and the Music Department is following these developments closely. We all want to sing together safely again. Early conclusions from a recent study conducted by the Bavarian Radio show that a distance of 5 feet between stationary singers was not enough to prevent aerosol spread, and that greater distances could work only if the room were permanently ventilated (all of the air is removed from the room and does not recirculate at all). Masks were shown to allow aerosols to escape from the sides, and on the communication side, they muffle text and dampen our ability to use facial expressions. The list goes on and on.

We are deeply missing singing together, and this research is disappointing. What’s even more difficult is that there are folks disregarding the danger and risking the safety of their fellow musicians, families, and community in order to sing. It all feels unfair right now, and we must allow space to mourn this loss.

I have been a musician all my life, and one of my greatest joys is sharing the thrills and challenges of singing together with others. As soon as there is a way to sing safely together again, we will. Until then, we have each other to lean on.

The Christ Church Choir will move to remote ensemble recordings for occasional hymns and anthems and continue with in-person solo or duet recordings in the church as long as safe conditions can be maintained. We will explore non-vocal ways of making music together as well, including hand chimes and other instruments (according to our forces) that can be played together in small groups.

Anybody interested in taking part in these offerings is encouraged to reach out to

Thank you,

Maggie O’Neill

Director of Music

Director of Music- Maggie O’Neill 

Maggie holds both a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. She has previously conducted youth choirs and community ensembles including the Seacoast Choral Society, ChildrenSong of NJ, and has experience teaching elementary and secondary music. Maggie has sung professionally in churches and ensembles for the past decade, and enjoys singing professionally in choral and solo settings.

The Director of Music for Christ Church has served our staff liaison to Pine Street Players at Christ Church, our growing youth theatre program, and Maggie also fills this rol. She serves as Head of Music and Music Director for the Pine Street Players. When she’s not working here at Christ Church, Maggie performs with theatre companies throughout New England. 

Christ Church has a long history of loving its music in all forms as part of our worship and as a pure demonstration of the beauty of God’s melodies in our lives.  Our programs include choirs made up of adults, teens and children as well as some of our talented instrumentalist parishioners.

At the center of our music program are our two prized instruments: the Liveley-Fulcher organ built in 2006 and our 1939 Steinway Model L small concert grand piano. Our organ has 3 manuals, 43 ranks and 2,653 pipes and is considered to be one of the finest instruments in New Hampshire. It is in great demand for organ recitals and concerts by many diverse community groups.

Coupled with the outstanding acoustics in our recently remodeled sanctuary, we regularly host music programs sponsored by community organizations, including Amare Cantare, Rockingham Choral Society, Portsmouth Pro Musica and the Community Chorus of South Berwick ME.

Organist- Bruce Adami

Bruce Adami has served as Christ Church’s organist since September 2007. From 1984-2004 he was Director of Music and Organist at Brookside Congregational Church (UCC), Manchester, NH; and from 1981-1984 was Director of Music and Organist at Grace Episcopal Church, Lawrence, Massachusetts. A graduate of Oberlin College Conservatory of Music in 1978, Bruce holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Organ Performance. He has given organ recitals throughout the U.S.

He has served as Treasurer and Dean of the New Hampshire Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors of Bear-Paw Regional Greenways, a land trust with over 9,000 acres of conserved lands in the eleven-town region between Bear Brook and Pawtuckaway State Parks. He is past Chair of the Board of the Young Organist Collaborative, an organization whose mission is to encourage middle and high school students to study the pipe organ.

Our Parish Choir, comprised of adults and teens, sings at our 10:00 service most Sunday mornings. At Christmas and Easter this group expands to become Festival Choir, providing opportunities for other parishioners to join them in special service music. The anthems they provide always enhance our worship experience and often include soaring solos by some of our gifted singers.

We also have a number of talented instrumentalists of all ages in our parish who are often part of our liturgies either as guest soloists, in a small chamber ensemble, or in accompaniment for the choir during anthems.