St. Luke’s Music

For well over a century, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church of Evanston has enriched the cultural and spiritual life of Chicagoland through its music programs.

Long recognized a leader in the teaching and performance of church music, St. Luke’s today continues its rich tradition of praising God through expertly performed Anglican choral music.

The St. Luke’s model of choral singing, in which children sing the soprano (or treble) part, follows the 500 year-old tradition of cathedral choirs in Britain, but updated to include girls as well as boys.

This model provides unique opportunities for children to participate fully in Sunday morning worship. Young trebles are equal musical partners with their adult colleagues in the alto, tenor and bass sections.

Recent samples of the Saint Luke’s Choir from our service archives:

The program includes the Saint Luke’s Choir, which sings weekly for Sunday morning worship, on Christmas Eve, and for Holy Week services and rehearses every Thursday evening from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Alto, Tenors and Basses rehearse Thursday from 7-8:30 pm. Trebles in the choir rehearse Thursday from 6:30-8 pm and Monday 6-7:30 pm. The Training Choir for younger children (K-2nd grade) sings for worship periodically throughout the church year and rehearses every Thursday afternoon from 4:30 to 5:10 pm. The choir programs run from September through May.

Membership in the treble section of the St. Luke’s Choir is open to boys and girls from Grade 3 and up (by audition and approval from the choirmaster). Girl trebles may remain in the choir through high school, and boy trebles may remain until their voices change (usually by grades 6-8). At that time, they may move into the tenor or bass section. The Training Choir is open to children grades K-2nd (by approval of the choirmaster).

The renowned St. Luke’s music staff provides children and adults with invaluable musical instruction and performing experience that encourages personal growth and helps prepare children for high school, college and beyond.

The choir and music programs are led by two outstanding church musicians:

lewis“An erudite musician … [Lewis] impresses.”
          —John von Rhein, Chicago Tribune

“Lewis is not only a first-class conductor, but was an engaging host for the proceedings, offering musical insights and anecdotes that were as entertaining as they were informative.”
          —Dennis Polkow, New City

In addition to being Choirmaster at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston, Andrew Lewis is also Artistic Director of Bella Voce, Music Director of the Elgin Choral Union, Founder and Artistic Director of The Janus Ensemble, a professional chamber orchestra specializing in Baroque and new music, and is on the conducting faculty at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He is also Artistic Director Emeritus of the Lutheran Choir of Chicago and formerly taught conducting at DePaul University. Lewis has been a guest lecturer at Concordia University Chicago, the nationally recognized Lectures in Church Music series, Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Loyola University Chicago, and has appeared as a guest conductor with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra. Lewis’ performances have been heard live on 98.7WFMT.

Lewis attended Northwestern University, receiving his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Theory. While still a student at Northwestern, he was provided with a scholarship to observe the rehearsals of Daniel Barenboim and Asher Fisch at the Staatsoper-Unter-den-Linden, Berlin. After college he moved to California, worked as a church musician, and was an original member of the Philharmonia Baroque Chorale of San Francisco, having sung with Baroque specialists Nicholas McGegan and John Butt. He then attended the Eastman School of Music to study choral and orchestral conducting with William Weinert and orchestral conducting with David Effron, receiving his Master of Music degree in 1998.

Lewis has also studied with conductors Helmuth Rilling, Robert Shaw, Robert Spano, James Paul, Gustav Meier, Stephen Cleobury, Duain Wolfe, and Dale Warland in the United States and Michel Tapachnik in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Lewis is married to singer and conductor Kirsten Hedegaard. He and Kirsten have three young boys, George, William, and Henrik.

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kraemerChristine Marshall Kraemer served as Saint Luke’s interim O/CM from November 2009 until summer 2011. She is now Saint Luke’s organist, collaborating with new choirmaster, Andrew Lewis. Christine is known to members of St. Luke’s for her performances as organ soloist for Bach Week, beginning in 1975, and as assisting organist and choirmaster from 2007-2009.

Dr. Kraemer holds three degrees from Northwestern University’s School of Music–Bachelor of Music Education, Master of Music and Doctor of Music in Church Music and Organ–where she taught Survey of German Organ Literature from 1990-2004. Christine has served as organist and organist/choir director at several North Shore churches and at Lincoln Park Presbyterian Church in Chicago, where she played the historic 1888 Johnson & Son tracker organ. She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society. Two sets of hymn variations she composed are published by Darcey Press.

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The Skinner organ at St. Luke’s Church in Evanston, Illinois, Ernest M. Skinner’s “Opus [work] 327,” is both magnificent and exceedingly rare. Fully restored in the 1990s, Opus 327 is today one of a very few close-to-original Skinner organs left in the United States, a rare surviving example of Skinner’s artistic and engineering genius.

The organ and its acoustic space are inseparable. The St. Luke’s nave, or central worship space, is itself a powerful musical instrument. The Gothic-style building was begun in 1906 to the designs of John Sutcliffe and erected in several stages. In 1914, the nave was completed to a height of seventy feet. Construction halted after the 1929 stock market crash and never resumed.

In 1922, the Skinner Organ Company of Boston, Massachusetts, installed its Opus 327, a four-manual organ. The organ is in chambers to the right (south) of the chancel area. The Choir and Pedal divisions have the lowest position; the Great and Solo are above; the Swell division is at the top. The main façade, facing the chancel, includes some speaking pipes. A smaller façade in the south aisle is composed of dummy pipes. In 1959, the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company installed the Fanfare Trumpet above the west doors of the nave.

Opus 327 was built to mimic the sounds of a full orchestra. The organ’s console, to the left (north) of the chancel, allows the musician to create sound using “a sophisticated electro-pneumatic computer” that Ernest M. Skinner invented and perfected. The voice of each of its thousands of metal and wooden pipes (see the specifications) is controlled by air that enters a leather pouch through a valve. The pipes sit in “windchests” that receive air from reservoirs that must be kept at optimal pressure and humidity. A motor forces air into the reservoirs through a blower in the church’s lower level.

Learn More about Opus 327

The music program of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Evanston provides an outstanding opportunity to further the musical education and spiritual growth of young people and adults alike. The St. Luke’s choirs welcome new members. If you or your child would be interested in learning more about membership in the choirs, please contact the Choirmaster.