Music

Choir

Music is an integral and essential part of worship at St. John’s. Our music program is known for its excellent quality and distinctive style. Our volunteer choir leads the congregation in a wide range of music every Sunday, from traditional Anglican and Episcopal hymns to medieval chant and Renaissance motets to American folk music and spirituals. If you are interested in joining the choir, or for general inquiries email Daniel Gonzalez, Director of Music <music@saintjohnsf.org> or leave a leave a phone message with the church office.

We have brought back our handbells choir for Easter performances. Please see our music director if you are interested in joining this summer to prepare for fall performances.

A set of hand bells

Compline is now sung every third Sunday with the St. John’s Choir In Person or on Zoom at 7:10pm. 

The Zoom link below is also circulated via the parish newsletter. If you do not subscribe to the email list, you may contact the music director for an invitation, or click here to join us via livestream. 

We were very pleased to have a happy return of Music at Saint John’s with a recital featuring Amanda Mole, international prize-winning organist, with a scintillating program of Buxtehude, Pachelbel, Mozart, Reger, Hampton, Schumann, and Rheinberger. This recital was jointly sponsored by St. John’s and the American Guild of Organists San Francisco Chapter. The recital was live-streamed and can be watched on the SFAGO website for one month: https://www.sfago.org/.

Many thanks to St. John’s Director of Music Daniel Gonzalez for organizing the recital series; to Sophia Zimmerman for arranging the lovely garden reception; to the many supporters of Music at Saint John’s; to the SFAGO; and of course to Amanda Mole for her wonderful performance and engaging discussion of the pieces!

About the Organ

In 1909 St. John’s erected the present building and installed an Austin organ of ten ranks. Seventy years later the instrument needed serious repair and rebuilding. The cost of this prompted consideration of an alternative approach with the result that the Vestry authorized a search for a suitable used organ. Criteria for the organ’s selection were (l) that it have a mechanical action, (2) that it be tonally more versatile than its predecessor and capable of playing a broader spectrum of the literature, and (3) that it be able to fulfill well the demands of the Anglican service. The organist at that time, Paul Bornand, recommended that the new organ be placed in a side aisle rather than in the previous organ’s chamber. This would allow better tonal egress into the nave and permit the organist to direct the choir from the console.

The story of St. John’s “new” organ begins in January 1902, when St. Paul’s English Evangelical Lutheran Church in Davenport, Iowa, contracted with M.P. Möller, of Hagerstown, Maryland. The firm agreed to build its Op. 388, a two-manual-and-pedal instrument with tracker (mechanical) action and thirteen ranks of pipes, for $1,500 and to install it that same year. By 1980 the building housed a different congregation and the organ was no longer in use, having suffered water damage from a leak in the roof. After information furnished by the Organ Clearing House on this and other available organs had been considered, St. John’s organist Nathan Privett and organ technician John DeCamp inspected the Davenport instrument and recommended its purchase.

It was bought, dismantled, and trucked to Los Angeles, where, retaining its tracker action, Decamp rebuilt and enlarged it in the shop of Rosales Organ-builders, Inc. The organ’s freestanding placement in St. John’s required a platform for the console and sides for the case. Rosales built these according to the design of parishioner John Mitchell, who served as engineer-draftsman for the project. Rosales reconstructed the Pedal windchest as well. In May 1983, parishioner volunteers and friends began the organ’s installation in St. John’s, and one year later it was dedicated.A full specification of the instrument is available here.

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