Our Music Director and Organist, Marcia Hempel, was trained at New England Conservatory, Longy School, Hart School of Music, and Westminster Choir College.
She also participated in a variety of programs in jazz, improvisation and children’s music.
She arranges and composes music for choir, organ and voice. Marcia directs the First Church Choir, her own community chorus, the Harwich Women’s Chorus, and teaches children’s music at the Children’s Center in Harwich.
In addition, Marcia plans and plays for weddings, funerals and memorial services, and other special events at First Church.
First Church has an adult choir that ranges in size from 9 to 17, depending on the season of the year. Some members have been singing with the choir for many years; others are newer. The choir holds special events during the year including an Advent Christmas Concert, Music Sunday, and special services for Christmas Eve and Easter. They generally sing two anthems every Sunday, and are much beloved by the congregation.
The Bell Choir is directed by Lynn Carver, who also arranges music for the bells. They number 6 to 9 ringers. They play for church services about once a month, and sometimes perform for Christmas events in town and nursing homes in the area.
Twice a year, in the spring and fall, the church holds Coffeehouses in the Parish Hall. This event includes members and friends of the church, who sing, play keyboard and guitar. A variety of pieces display their versatility with jazz, folk, show tunes and non-classical music. The local Cape Cod Ukulele Band and other musical groups sometimes join in.
Great refreshments and food, provided by church members, accompany the Coffeehouses. Generally, all of the seats in the house are full so plan to come early.
Our Music Director, Marcia Hempel, offers two organ concerts each year, generally in July and September. The concerts are about an hour, and include a variety of styles of organ music. Marcia has written her own ragtime music as well as other organ music. She likes to include jazz organ as well as other contemporary music by composers like Aberg and Cooman. The standard fare of Bach, Pachelbel and Buxtehude can also be heard.
The concerts are always free to the public, sponsored by the First Church Stevens Fund, unless visitors wish to make donations.
Young Composers Workshop, Ages 10-17
This is a summer workshop led by Marcia Hempel, Music Director and held at First Congregational Church, Harwich Center. The program in composing and songwriting is for ages 10-17. 1 1/4 hours per week for five weeks. The individual lessons are scheduled according to each student’s schedule. Songwriting and also writing for piano and other instruments, will be possible projects to work on depending on student interest.
Young Singers, Ages 9-16
The Young Singers program, for 9-16-year olds, is a summer program. It features private voice lessons and group rehearsals for Harwich residents. The program culminates in a concert at the end of the six-week session. The program is free of charge, sponsored by the First Church Stevens Fund. Contact Marcia Hempel if you or your young singer are interested.
In a special arrangement with the Children’s Center, a preschool in Harwich, Marcia Hempel teaches music there once a week. She works with two age groups– one of 3-4-year-olds and one of 4-5-year-olds. Marcia has studied Dalcroze Eurhythmics, singing games and other children’s music. She has taught young children for about 20 years, in daycares, community school settings, and summer camps. This program is sponsored by the First Church Stevens Fund.
Advent Christmas Concert
Each year, the church choir combines with instrumentalists and a narrator to present our Advent Christmas Concert in conjunction with the Harwich Home for the Holidays weekend. The story of Jesus birth is accompanied by choral music, instrumental pieces, organ music, and carols – even an occasional secular Christmas song for fun. Our historic New England church draws individuals and families, and always looks especially beautiful with its seasonal decorations.
We have instruments accompany us for Christmas Eve and Easter services, arranged by Marcia Hempel. Also, members of the church community perform with their instruments and as soloists and in duets throughout the year.