Our Choirs

First Unitarian Society of Madison is home to five choirs: 2 adult choirs and 3 children’s & youth choirs. Each provides opportunities for learning, service, and community.

Everyone is welcome! Whatever your age, skill level, or experience, FUS has a choir for you! No audition is required. You do not need to be a member of FUS to participate. Just show up and sing!

Most choirs rehearse weekly from September through May and participates in worship services about once per month.

All choirs come together on our December All Music Sunday.

Come give singing at FUS a try!

Children's and Youth Choirs

FUS offers three choirs for younger singers. Each provides an important opportunity for children and youth to develop an appreciation for fine music, develop their voice, learn music-reading and other skills, and expand their circle of friendship. We sing a wide variety of music…and it’s fun!

Who May Join? All children and teens are welcome! No previous experience necessary, no audition required, there is no fee, and you do not need to be a member of FUS.

Weekly Rehearsals: We meet Wednesday evenings.

  • Cherub Choir (4 year olds–grade 2) — 6:30 to 6:55 p.m.
  • Choristers (grades 3–7) — 7:00 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Teen Choir (grades 8–12) — 7:45 to 8:15 p.m.

We rehearse at First Unitarian Society of Madison (GPS: 900 University Bay Drive, Madison, WI 53705). Park anywhere. Use the entrance to your left as you face the building. Take stairs or elevator to lower level. You will find us in the Music Rehearsal Room.

Virtual Option: If necessary, you may participate in a rehearsal via Zoom, click here. Email Heather for password. Please stay muted throughout. Must be on-site to participate in worship services.

Appearance in Worship: Each choir sings in a worship service about once per month. A schedule will be provided when you come to rehearsal.

Questions? For more information on any of our children’s and youth choirs, contact director Heather Thorpe. A section of Frequently Asked Questions is at the bottom of this page.

Meet the director! Heather Thorpe directs the FUS children’s and youth choirs. She is the choir and general music teacher at Verona Area High School. Previously, she taught the choirs at Badger Ridge Middle School in Verona. Heather is a professional vocalist performing throughout Wisconsin, including as soloist with Madison Symphony Orchestra. Heather earned the Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in K–12 general and vocal music education. She was awarded the Herb Kohl Fellowship for excellence in education and was recognized as an outstanding teacher in the national magazine Teaching Music. She currently serves on the board for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association, is a proud member of the VoiceCare Network, Wisconsin Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, and National Association for Music Educators. She previously conducted for Madison Children’s Choirs. She loves running, water skiing, hiking, canoeing, gardening, doing art projects, and paddle boarding. She joined the FUS staff in 1996.

I’m Ready To Join! What Next? Just show up to the next rehearsal!

Adult Choirs

FUS’s two adult choirs augment worship services with selections that reinforce the message of the day. Singers experience fine music, develop their voice, strengthen music-reading and other skills, and extend their circle of friendship. Each sings a wide variety of music and takes on exciting projects. Recent years have included a tour of our sister church in Transylvania, a performance of the Duruflé Requiem at Carnegie Hall, and commissions by Stephen Paulus, Elizabeth Alexander, Jim Scott, Joe Harris, and others. For more information on either of the adult choirs, contact Drew Collins.

Who May Join? All are welcome! No previous experience necessary, no audition required, there is no fee, and you do not need to be a member of FUS.

Weekly Rehearsals

  • Meeting House Chorus sings world music, popular styles, contemporary anthems, and justice-oriented music. Rehearsals are Wednesdays 6:30 p.m. to 8:15 p.m.
  • Society Choir sings masterworks in the Western art tradition from the past 500 years. Rehearsals are Thursdays 6:30 to 8:15 p.m.

We rehearse at First Unitarian Society of Madison (GPS: 900 University Bay Drive, Madison, WI 53705). Park anywhere. Use the entrance to your left as you face the building. Take stairs or elevator to lower level. You will find us in Atrium Auditorium.

Virtual Option: To participate in a rehearsal via Zoom, email Drew before 5:00 p.m. on the date of the rehearsal for password and sheet music. The Zoom link is here. Please stay muted throughout. Participation in worship services must be in-person.

Appearance in Worship: Each choir sings in services about once per month. A schedule will be provided when you come to rehearsal.

Questions? For more information on either of our adult choirs, contact director Drew Collins. A section of Frequently Asked Questions is at the bottom of this page.

Meet the Director: Drew Collins is Music Director for First Unitarian Society of Madison and Assistant Director for the Madison Symphony Chorus. Previously, he held dual appointments on the choral and music education faculties for universities in Illinois, Ohio, and Connecticut, and taught in the public schools. As a conductor, he has led All State choirs and professional-level adult ensembles, toured domestically and internationally, and headlined in Carnegie Hall. His compositions are published by Boosey & Hawkes, Carl Fischer, earthsongs, Kjos, SBMP, and Walton publishers among others. He has served as editor for three music publishing companies and has authored numerous articles on choral repertoire. Drew holds degrees from Concordia College, Boston University, and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He lives in Fitchburg with his wife and two children. drewc@fusmadison.org<mailto:drewc@fusmadison.org>

Meet the Accompanist: Linda Warren is Associate Music Director and Principal Pianist for First Unitarian Society of Madison. She earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Harp Performance and Music Theory from the Eastman School of Music, and while in college played solo recitals across the country as part of the American Harp Society’s Young Artist Program. Later she also served on the Harp Society’s Board of Directors and wrote a regular column for the American Harp Journal. Upon completion of the “Music for Healing and Transition” program, Linda often played harp at bedside at UW Hospitals and Agrace Hospice, and recorded two healing music CDs: “Devotional Music for Harp” and “Folk Songs and Lullabies.” Linda plays piano, organ and harp at our Saturday and Sunday services, and often leads other groups such as the FUS String Band, Chime Choir and Solstice Harp Ensemble. She has worked as a paid church musician since high school, having previously served Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, and UCC congregations. Linda is also the registrar and newsletter editor for Madison’s Association of Church Musicians, a position she has held since 2006. She joined the FUS staff in 2005.

I’m Ready To Join! What Next? Just show up to the next rehearsal!

Anybody Choirs

A few times each year (especially in summer), we offer a “one and done” choir experience. Anybody Choir is low pressure and no commitment: one rehearsal, one service. When you arrive, you will pick up a piece of music, rehearse for about an hour, sing the service, and turn your music back in. That’s it! Anybody Choir is open to absolutely anyone: amateurs and professionals, adults and children, family and friends, FUS-ers and non-FUS-ers, Madisonians and out-of-towners…anybody who wants to sing is welcome regardless of skill, age, or experience! No advance registration is necessary, and it’s free to participate. Attire is whatever you would normally wear to church. Just show up and sing! To learn about the next Anybody Choir, email drewc@fusmadison.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Covid-19 safety protocols are in effect? Masks at all times for all participants regardless of vaccination status. Social distancing. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be available. Participants experiencing one or more symptoms associated with CoViD-19 should stay home. A virtual option will be available for most rehearsals. https://fusmadison.org/coronavirus/

My schedule is not consistent right now; can I still sing? While consistent attendance is preferable, we understand that life can be complicated. We know you will be here when you can be!

Can I try it out to see if I like it? Of course! We’re happy to have you sit in and observe or participate so you can decide whether to start attending rehearsals regularly.

Can I join at any point during the year? Yes! Start attending rehearsals whenever you’d like.

I’m not confident in my abilities. Can I still participate? Yes! Everyone is at a different point in their music journey. Some read music better than others; some have taken voice lessons, others have not; some have been in choirs their whole lives, others are just taking the plunge. If there is anything you need help with, see the director.

Do I need to bring anything? No, just show up and sing!

What do the choirs wear in services? We don’t use robes. Most folks wear what they normally would to any other worship service. Society Choir wears all black.