Music Notes: Becoming a UU

by Eric Lane Barnes, Director of Music

When my partner Paul and I got married in 2013 we’d already been together for 22 years. The wedding we had was a great amount of fun: we put together a show for 300 of our closest friends and performed it at The Triple Door in Seattle, with a wedding ceremony built into the middle. The days following the wedding Paul and I noticed we both felt somehow different. Our commitment, our love, the history of our relationship hadn’t changed. But, somehow, standing in front of our gathered guests (it was actually a sold-out show) and signing the official marriage license put our relationship into a perspective neither of us thought we’d ever see in our lifetimes. The parallels between my wedding with the man I have loved for over 20 years and the installation ceremony at East Shore on March 17th are striking. For one, I love putting on a show, and assembling the Mighty Choir, Princess Guy (a vocal quartet of which I am a member) and trusted friend and colleague Kevin Gallagher was a true joy. For another, the official passing of the baton from Bob Kechley to me seemed significant. I realized I would be only the third music director at East Shore since its dedication in 1955, and what a rare, rich legacy I was following. Also, in the days following the installation service I found I felt … different. I’d already felt committed to East Shore and its mission and vision, and had been forging great personal and professional relationships with the congregation and staff members. But now it was official, and real. I hadn’t served as music director for a church in quite some time. I’d had a great respect for the UU fellowship (and indeed noticed that Unitarians were generally the most enthusiastic and happiest audiences I had ever performed for) but had never really delved deeply into UU philosophy to understand all it stood for. The more I listened and learned at East Shore, I gleaned from the Unitarian Musician’s Network courses I was taking, the more I read on my own, the more I realized: “Hey! I am SUCH a Unitarian!” I look forward to all the musical, theatrical, spiritual, educational and community-building opportunities that await us all at East Shore Unitarian Church.

I would like to extend an open invitation to all members to share ideas, thoughts, hopes and dreams with me. I feel my position as Director of Music is to help bring ideas to life, and to help create an environment to joyfully encourage and cultivate musical exploration, creativity, discovery and personal connection. This includes Sunday/special evening services as well as performances and projects that can take place in the sanctuary or Spring Hall. We have great resources at East Shore, and I’m eager to see just how far our ideas can fly. Some thoughts of mine include:

  • Presenting theatrical performances such as ‘Godspell,’ “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ ‘Our Town’ or GB Shaw’s ‘Saint Joan.’
  • Helping form a drum circle, and finding possible places to include drumming in an appropriate Sunday service.
  • Teaming up with other nearby UU congregations to join musical/choral/theatrical forces.
  • Hosting musical workshops with experienced clinicians who might be able to show us how to bring more musical joy into our lives.
  • Exploring new ways in which music can be used to bring about positive social change.

The above list is endless. What excites you in the realm of music and/or performance? I am eager to hear your thoughts.

Here’s to creating the best possible ‘us,’ and bringing East Shore Unitarian Church into a new era of practicing love, exploring spirituality, building community and promoting justice! v