Music Program


Barbara Elder, Music Director
Barbara Elder knows the UU Meeting House well. She was choir director from 1982-94 and had the opportunity to provide music along with Susan Jarrell and Marcia Hempel and others. She happily returned to the position of music director in January 2018. Barbara Elder came to Nantucket in 1982 to serve as director of Nantucket Community Music Center (NCMC), a position she held for 10 years. She was also Music Coordinator of the Nantucket Public Schools for 25 years. She is the choral conductor of the NCMC Chorus of Nantucket and has been involved in productions of Theatre Workshop of Nantucket and Actors Theater of Nantucket. She brings a wide range of experience, knowledge of music and ability to joyfully and creatively meet the needs of a growing congregation.


UU Meeting House Choir
The singing of the adult choir every week is something that the church really appreciates, enjoys, and looks forward to. The choir is a close knit group that enjoys the weekly routine of preparation of an anthem and a choral welcome.   The group has been active for over 30 years, and some members have been with the choir for the entire time. Summer singers come when they are on island and join for a short time.

The choir’s repertoire includes music about peace, nature, courage, human rights, thankfulness, and other themes. They sing Christmas music, Thanksgiving music, Valentines Day music, and music for other special occasions, e.g., choral music was commissioned for the 200th Anniversary of the church. Music from other countries is sung, such as music in Hebrew from the Jewish tradition, or pieces in African languages, or a piece by Mendelssohn in the original German. The Unitarian tradition offers unique opportunities for singing choral pieces from many religious traditions as well as non-religious musical sources. Music is presented from folk traditions with guitar, as well as choral works with organ. Opportunities for soloists are available.

The choir is made up of a combination of experienced singers and people who just like to sing, who may not have a lot of experience.   Often people think they have to know how to read music to join, and while this is always helpful, many of our singers do not read music. A good ear for music, an appreciation of the beauty of music, and an ability to carry a tune, are all that are necessary to join. There is no audition. New members are always welcome.

The Goodrich Organ
The church has in its summer sanctuary an historic organ that is renowned for its beautiful tone: the 1831 Goodrich Organ. It was built by Boston organ builder William Goodrich and is the oldest example of his organ building still in its original site which has been in continuous use. In 2010 a restoration project on the organ was completed. It is one of the finest tracker-action organs in America. Goodrich passed his knowledge on to many other organ builders whose organs now are all over New England, such as the Hook Brothers and Appleton. Goodrich died very young, at 53, and so did not get have a chance to build as many organs as his apprentices did. Additional information about this organ at the Unitarian Church is available.

Our other instruments
In our summer sanctuary we have a Steinway piano on permanent loan from the Nantucket Arts Council, and downstairs in our winter sanctuary, Hendrix Hall, houses a Chickering piano.