The music program at First Presbyterian Church of Murray has a long tradition of excellence in bringing quality music to each worship service. The music at FPC is always performed live by our Chancel Choir or music staff and often features guest musicians from the Department of Music at Murray State University. Music is a large part of every service, from the choral introit to hymns robustly sung by the congregation to an instrumental postlude. Church attendees can expect to be treated to music that offers them moments of reflection as well as soul-stirring, toe-tapping inspiration.
The Chancel Choir is at the heart of the music ministry at FPC. The choir is made up of 20-25 church members and friends who dedicate themselves to attending weekly Wednesday evening rehearsals and Sunday services. The choir’s repertoire ranges from traditional hymn-tune arrangements to spirituals and gospel-style anthems. Members of the choir enjoy singing together and rehearsals are not only filled with music making but often laughter and fellowship. In addition to weekly choral anthems, the choir traditionally presents a larger-scale cantata with guest musicians for Advent/Christmas or Lenten/Easter seasons.
FPC recently began a Music Intern program that allows a select number of Murray State vocal music students to receive a scholarship for singing with the Chancel Choir and learning valuable musical leadership skills. Our current Interns are Leia Deshon, a junior Music Education major from Mt. Vernon, Illinois, Emma Whitt, a sophomore Music Performance major from Knoxville, Tennessee, Lars Collin Andersson from Cape Girardeau, Missouri, and Jarmon Robinson from Belleville, Illinois.
The Chancel Choir is led by Dr. Christopher Mitchell. Dr. Christopher Mitchell, bass-baritone, joined the Murray State music faculty in the fall of 2007. Dr. Mitchell received the BM in Vocal Music Education from Michigan State University and the MM and DM in Vocal Performance from Florida State University.
Dr. Mitchell’s versatility as a performer is evident through the diversity of his work in operatic, orchestral, chamber, art song, and musical theater repertoire. Recent highlights include performing the role of Melchior in Menotti’s Amahl and the Night Visitors for the Opera Company of Brooklyn and a performance as bass soloist in the Mozart Requiem with the Paducah Symphony Orchestra. In summer 2010, Dr. Mitchell was named a national semifinalist in the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Artist Award competition for which he performed at the NATS National Conference in Salt Lake City. Dr. Mitchell was also selected to present a session titled “Developing Musical Independence in Singers” at the same conference. His longstanding service to NATS was recently acknowledged by his appointment to Kentucky District Governor. In addition to his duties at Murray State, Dr. Mitchell serves as Voice Coordinator for the International Performing Arts Institute summer program in Kiefersfelden, Germany.
Christina D’Ambrosio, our pianist/organist, holds degrees in piano performance from Miami University (Ohio) and Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. She is an adjunct professor at Murray State University where she teaches keyboarding and frequently performs with other music faculty members. She is also a certified Suzuki piano teacher and has a private studio of young musicians in Murray.