Our Choir Master and Organist
Gretchen Bilson Chiverton, our organist and choir master, exhibited a love of music at an early age, attending Interlochen Center for the Arts on scholarship in her early teens. Gretchen earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Music Composition & Piano from Wesleyan University, where she led the Wesleyan Ebony Singers and accompanied the University Concert Choir. After non-musical stints working for Microsoft, MSNBC and AOL, Gretchen returned to her first love – music – and teaches piano to the young and not-so-young. She was previously Director of Music at St. Andrew & Holy Communion and is an Executive Board member of the local AGO chapter. She lives in West Orange, with her husband Robert Chiverton, son Bobby and dog Duke
The choir expanded in the fall of 2013 under the leadership of Choir Master, Gretchen Bilson Chiverton. Choir members not only prepare the traditional hymns and anthems for the Sunday service, but now have the opportunity to expand their knowledge of music, extend their vocal ranges and sing under the expert guidance of a gifted choir master. We also have several music scholars in the choir, young people who are students of music and who have been recruited by our choir master. A few choir members are instrumentalists as well and frequently perform with the choir. Our choir now numbers approximately 20 individuals with children joining the choir for special concerts.
Holy Innocents has developed a concert series under the guidance of Gretchen Bilson-Chiverton. The first concert, a choral sing which told the Christmas story through music, was held on Saturday, December 6, 2015. Since then, the Christmas concert in early December has become a regular occurrence and other concerts are now held at other times during the year.
During the summer months of July and August, Holy Innocents invites people of all ages who love to sing to join a “summer pickup choir.” All that is required is a short rehearsal on Sunday morning half an hour before the service to go over the hymns for that Sunday. It is a great opportunity to have fun singing in a group and performing a much needed service without a large time commitment. During July and August the Summer Pickup Choir meets downstairs at 9:00 am before the 9:30 service.
Instrumental Music at Holy Innocents
Our church is blessed with a fine Moller pipe organ, a Chickering spinet piano, a full set of Malmark bells, a set of Choir Chimes, and several percussion instruments. The music of Holy Innocents echoes the lessons and gospel of the day and we often publish notes pertaining to special anthems in the Sunday bulletin. We generally use our bells for joyous celebrations.
The M.P. Moller Pipe Organ was installed in 1969, Opus 9202, and was given in memory of Alice Lee Chubb, wife of Hendon Chubb, the founder of the Chubb Insurance Company. It is in the process of being refurbished with new leathers, a task that will be ongoing for the next year or two and one that all organs must undergo every 40 or 50 years. (See the video of attaching new leathers on the bellows in the “News” page.) Thanks to members of the Chubb family and to many other donors the work on the organ is continuing and is anticipated to be completed in 2019. To date some features of the organ that have not worked in years are now functioning once again and the sound over all has been greatly improved.
Many people call the organ the king of instruments because it is the only instrument played by one person that can come close to duplicating symphonic sound. One hears the blare of trumpets, the soothing notes of the strings, the sweetness of the flute, the plaintive call of the oboe as well as a million variations of these sounds. It is a special blessing to hear not only the organ music of the hymns and anthems, but the moving preludes and postludes that accompany each service.