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There have been some major changes at the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos this fall, including hiring Alicia Solomon as the new music director.
Solomon, a veteran soloist of the Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Symphony, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, and others, is the first professional musician to be hired by the church in its 53-year history.
In addition to directing the Adult Choir, overseeing the Children’s Choir volunteers, and organizing other volunteer musicians, she supplies piano and guitar accompaniment, as well as vocal solos, for worship services.
Previously, Solomon was a soloist for the Christian Science church in Santa Fe.
“Many churches in Los Alamos don’t have professional musicians, so I’ve had to commute,” she said. “I was very glad to see an ad for a local position, with a church and minister that I feel I can work well with.”
“It is wonderful to have a collaborative partner who understands the role of music in worship, and to see the congregation respond so positively to Alicia’s presence,” the Rev. John Cullinan said. “She’s adding to an already-growing energy in the congregation.”
The move toward more professional staff to support congregational programming is directly related to a dramatic increase in activity since Cullinan’s arrival as a new minister last August.
The congregation voted last spring to move to a new two-service schedule during this church year.
Previously, Sunday mornings included a Religious Education program and Adult Forum before a single worship service, during which additional activities for children were provided.
The new schedule has two Religious Education sessions for grades kindergarten through fifth grade concurrent with the worship services at 9 a.m. and 11 a.m., and youth groups for sixth-eighth grades and high school students meeting during the second service. The children attend the first part of the worship service before exiting to their classes.
The Adult Forum now meets between the two services, at 10:10 a.m., and will include a wide variety of speakers from the community.
In addition to Solomon, the church now has paid staff helping with the fellowship hour, and has hired a Youth Ministry Coordinator, Sarah Rose Dickens, to join the Religious Education program.
Solomon will lead the Adult Choir for the first time Sunday at both the 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services. The choir rehearses on Wednesdays from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at the church, 1738 N. Sage St., and membership is open.
Information about Solomon’s recordings and other appearances can be found at aliciasolomon.com, and more information about the church is at www. uulosalamos.org.