Young Artists Initiative:
    Music Internships at First Unitarian
    Young Artists Showcase Concerts

First U has a long history of encouraging young musicians. In the 1980s we auditioned and selected 3-6 students (high school and younger) each year to participate in our service music by playing several preludes and solos during services throughout the church year. They received a small stipend, resume "bragging rights", and performance experience and confidence. The church enjoyed hearing new talent and encouraging them along their musical journeys. Over a dozen students were selected during the few years we ran this early program. Several have gone on to enjoy amazing careers (a movie star, and an internationally acclaimed concert artist).

In April, 2010 as a part of several tributes offered to Will Sherwood on the occasion of his 25th anniversary as Director of Music at First U, donations were received to start a music fund to be used to support Young Artists, with the understanding that Will would sculpt plans for appropriate usage of the funds. After speaking with colleagues and researching other churches that similarly support young musicians, we have launched several programs to encourage young musicians:

The Young Artists Initiative goal is to encourage the development of young musicians in our church and community, with the hope that our support and focus will empower them to make a significant contribution to church music programs as they go through their lives. In a day and age when many churches suffer from dwindling numbers of adults with musical skills and experience (and musical appreciation), our church can make a difference toward the sustainability of quality church music.


The Music Committee selects young people for 3-9 month internships, with educational and experiential emphases on pipe organ study, choral singing, choral direction, and management of music program logistics. Musical internships are awarded to talented youth in the Worcester metropolitan area. The internships recognize musical excellence and foster skill development and peroformance experience. A more accomplished young musician would be appropriate for a Music Intern position, while a younger student who is less farther along in her/his studies would be a "Junior Intern."

No fees are expected either way: the program does not cost the student anything, and the student's experience is their reward.

Several interns at other churches have gone on to have professional careers in music, and many of the interns continue to practice music in their lives well beyond their college days and into adulthood, often in church music.

Benefits for the intern:

  1. Experience in various areas of church music (that could lead to employment and/or music program participation later in life)
  2. Add to their resume, and hearty recommendation letters.
  3. Skill enhancement, opportunities for performance (experience, confidence building, exposure), on-the-job training, special projects to lead/manage
  4. If organ lessons (service playing or improvisation) are involved, application for additional support from the WorcAGO scholarship program; Consider AGO certification (service playing certificate)
  5. Gain a support community ("fan club") for the intern's performances in the community
  6. Establish networking in the music community - AGO, JOMP, Pakachoag, Music Worcester, colleagues
  7. Possible areas of "study":
    1. Pipe Organ lessons
    2. Service music playing, including hymn playing (not as easy as it may seem!), accompanying
    3. Choral direction/conducting
    4. Improvisation/composition/arranging; music typesetting with Finale
    5. Planning a service (or concert) - envisioning (mind-simulating) the moment: repertoire/flow/transitions/mood/audience/accessibility/balance; considerations for an entire season
    6. Instruments - care, construction, and maintenance (pipe organ innards, organ/piano/harpsichord tuning)
    7. Management of a music program including logistics, planning, publicity, "care and feeding" of volunteers, concert logistics, calendar-schedule-web-newsletter management
  8. Participate/lead/implement various phases of behind-the-scenes tasks (see: Anatomy of a Concert)
  9. See: topics to choose from.

Benefits for the church:

  1. Opportunity to sing with the Festival and Chamber choirs (often 3 major anthems plus service music per week)
  2. Accompany vocal/instrumental solo and choral works
  3. If appropriate, substitute for Will when he's away
  4. Play prelude or other solo (piano, or later, organ) in church services; participate in summer services
  5. Help with music program logistics and concerts
  6. Serve as occasional assistant to Director of Music/Organist
  7. In general, promote church music sustainability
  8. Wider outreach to the community at large

Young Artist Showcase Recital Series

Top-notch young performers beginning their careers are featured each year in a concert series.

4/13/12 Jennifer McPherson – works by Bruhns, Mendelssohn, Bach, Alain, Messiaen
5/11/12 Jonathan Bezdegian – works by Bach, Mendelssohn, Cook, Creston
6/22/12 Katelyn Emerson – works by Reger, Alain, Franck, Durufle, Vierne, Widor

5/2/13 Dexter Kennedy
5/17/13 Monica Czausz
5/31/13 Abe Ross
12/15/13 WPI Christmas Fanfares (at First U)

4/21/14 Alex Pattavina
5/9/14 Jason Roberts

4/24/15 Jonathan Wessler
6/5/15 Nick Capozzoli

5/23/16 WorcAGO Scholarship Recital

5/12/17 Katelyn Emerson

4/2018 Matthew Buller


2012-2014 MUSIC INTERN

JAMES HAUPT, INTERN   (2014-2017, currently Assistant Director of Music)
  James Haupt received his B.S. in Electrical & Computer Engineering and Music from Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He studied conducting under John Delorey & Douglas Weeks while at WPI, and studied piano for fifteen years prior to college at the Music Studio in Colonie, NY under Sheryl Fell and Noel Liberty. James received early choral training in the historic Choir of Men and Boys at The Cathedral of All Saints, Albany, NY under Dr. Lloyd Cast, and is a frequent countertenor and accompanist for WPI & Worcester Consortium choral works. Locally he has music directed for, and performed with, numerous production companies including Calliope Productions in Boylston, MA and WPI's VOX; and is music directing Assumption College's Spring 2012 production of Seussical, the Musical! at the Hanover. James is currently serving on the WPI Glee Club Alumni Associates Board of Directors as Secretary/Treasurer in his second term, and recently became a member of the Calliope Productions Board of Directors. He is employed by MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, MA as an Assistant Staff in the Embedded and High Performance Computing Group, and is studying organ under Will Sherwood.

Young Artists In Residence

Music Intern Syllabus

Music Intern MOU