Music at St. Luke’s
The Music Ministry at St. Luke’s is vibrant, creative, and grounded in the unique Anglican heritage of music in the Episcopal Church. From Sunday morning Eucharist to reflective Evensong services and brilliant festive occasions, our primary goal is always to support the liturgy of the church and to enable all people to experience the transcendence of the living God through music. We are noted for our high-quality choral program and our remarkable acoustic space. In addition, our pipe organ, built in 1922 by E.M. Skinner, is often recognized as being one of the finest in the United States. It not only provides essential and varied accompaniments and voluntaries for services but also attracts renowned recitalists.
Join the congregation at a service, attend a choral concert, or enjoy a free organ recital: there are countless ways to explore our rich and unique musical tradition.
St. Luke’s has a rich tradition of excellence in the teaching and performance of church music.
We have a mixed voice choir of boys, girls, men, and women. 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.
The choir helps to lead our worship at the 10.00 am Eucharist, as well as Evensong, special services such as Lessons and Carols, and for weddings on request. The St. Luke’s choirs always welcome new members. If you or your child would be interested in learning more about membership in the choirs, please contact the Choirmaster.
St. Luke’s youth choir, known as the Trebles, offers an unparalleled opportunity to provide young singers with a free, world-class musical education. As participants, choristers experience the English cathedral model of choral singing as they join the adults in mature, challenging, and rewarding music-making. Our choristers receive musical training in vocal production, sight reading, music theory, and aural skills in the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) training schema.
The Trebles are a supportive community of peers all committed to the same goal. They sing great works of art and receive opportunities for tours, retreats, and concerts. The skills that these choristers develop last a lifetime and foster growth in other areas of life at a young age: leadership, commitment, focus, attention to detail, patience, teamwork, camaraderie, and a love for service.
Membership in the treble section of the St. Luke’s Choir is open to boys and girls from third grade and up. 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 Trebles rehearse on Mondays at 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Thursdays at 6:30 – 8:00 pm, and each Sunday morning at 8:45 am.
The Altos, Tenors, and Basses (ATBs)
St. Luke’s adult choir, known as the ATBs, consists of singers from all walks of life—students, lawyers, teachers, retirees, and businesspeople, to name a few—who share a fierce dedication to the craft of choral singing in a liturgical context and to each another. They are ordinary people who make extraordinary music. Membership of the Choir is open to anyone who enjoys singing, although some ability to read music is desirable.
The ATBs rehearse on Thursdays at 7:00 – 8:30 pm, and each Sunday morning at 8:45 am.
The Training Choir
The Training Choir is made up of children in kindergarten through second grades. Our youngest choristers learn everything they need to know to graduate to our youth and adult choir. Training Choir rehearsals are fun! In addition to preparing songs to sing for church services, the children play many singing games and begin to learn to read music. The Training Choir sings periodically through the year at the 10:00 service.
The Training Choir rehearses on Thursdays from 5:00 – 5:40 pm during the school year.
The choir and music programs are led by two outstanding church musicians:
“An erudite musician … [Lewis] impresses.”
—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.
Christine 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.
OUR ORGAN, OPUS 327
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.
In 2014, Opus 327 NFP was founded. Opus 327 is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the organ and its perfectly matched acoustical space at St. Luke’s, and to training and engaging young people in the performance of organ and choral music.