Music & Fine Arts
In its belief that music and art are integral parts of worship, Second Presbyterian maintains a long-standing tradition of artistic excellence. Under the leadership of Dr. Michelle Louer, the music and fine arts programs of Second Church are vibrant and active, with ministries for all ages, from four-year-olds through adults.
Vocal ensembles include nine choirs: Sanctuary Choir, Beecher Singers, Summer Choir, Women's Ensemble, Men's Ensemble, and choirs for children and youth ages 4 through twelfth grade.
Instrumental ensembles include handbell choir, an inter-generational youth and adult wind ensemble, jazz trio, and professional orchestra and brass ensemble.
Surrounded by highly symbolic works of art at Second Presbyterian, the Fine Arts Ministry program stewards the development of the church’s permanent art collection and rotating exhibitions in the McFarland Hall Art Gallery.
The choirs and ensembles of Second Church are both instruments of worship, service and small group ministries that address the needs and interests of members and their families. While upholding the tradition of Reformed worship, musical integrity and excellence of Second Church, music enhances the worship experience of the congregation and the outreach of the church by conveying through multiple art forms the joy and power of the transformational life and message of Jesus Christ.
For more information, contact the Music & Fine Arts Office.
Adult Choral Ensembles
Adult Choral Ensembles
Under the direction of Dr. Michelle Louer, this adult ensemble provides musical leadership for the 9:30 and 11 a.m. worship services September through May. Anyone with a love of singing is invited to participate. Weekly rehearsals are on Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m. Some ability to read music is recommended.
The Beecher Singers is an auditioned chamber ensemble that sings primarily at Second@Six evening services. Fluent vocal abilities and strong musical skills are required.
Summer Choir provides musical leadership for 9:30 and 11 a.m. Sunday worship services from Memorial through Labor Day. A great way to become involved with choir on a short-term basis, choir members may sing as often as they wish. Opportunities to sing offertory solos are also available for those that are interested.
The Women’s Ensemble participates in selected worship services and special events throughout the year. It is open to women of high school age and beyond, and no prior musical experience is required.
The Men’s Ensemble participates in selected worship services and special events throughout the year. It is open to men of high school age and beyond, and no prior musical experience is required.
Led by Rebecca Holt, the Handbell Ensemble rehearses on Saturday mornings and plays in worship services monthly. Moderate music-reading ability is helpful and a sense of rhythm and coordination important. No audition is required. The Ensemble is open to eighth grade students and older. Successful handbell choirs always have a sense of group spirit and mutual support with regular attendance at rehearsals crucial.
All youth and adults who have completed at least three years of study on wind, brass or percussion instruments are eligible and encouraged to become part of Second Winds, a symphony wind ensemble comprised solely of volunteers from the Second Presbyterian community. Second Winds plays 3-4 services during the year and rehearses Wednesdays, 8:15-9:15 p.m. This ensemble is a great opportunity for youth and adults to work together to create beautiful music, enjoy fellowship and use their gifts and talents to glorify God.
The Jazz Trio is a renowned jazz performance group that leads worship frequently at the Second@Six service. The trio is comprised of the formidable skill and talent of musicians Gary Walters (piano), Chris Pyle (drums), and Steve Dokken (bass guitar), and vocalist Erin Benedict.
This professional orchestra draws on members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, as well as other area professional organizations. It performs for special concerts and performances in addition to enhancing festival worship services.
The Brass Ensemble draws on members of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, as well as other area professional organizations and performs with the Sanctuary Choir at special worship services and events.
Musical Legacy and Tradition
Musical Legacy and Tradition
The church was founded in 1838 by Henry Ward Beecher, the foremost American preacher of the 19th century. At its founding, Rev. Beecher beseeched his musician brother Charles to organize a choir to provide music for Sunday worship and civic occasions. From its inception, then, Second Church has forged a strong link between excellence in preaching and excellence in music and the choir has grown in reputation as a regional musical organization.
Glorifying God through a variety of worship opportunities that express gratitude, demonstrate commitment to the Reformed faith and engage the gifts and talents of the people of God, the Second Church music traditions have been shaped by many leaders over its 175+ year history.
The Beecher Singers, an auditioned vocal chamber ensemble, is named in honor of the church’s first music director and organist, Charles Beecher.
The Edson Youth Choir for students in grades 6-12 is named in honor of Dr. Hanford A. Edson who served as the pastor of Second Presbyterian Church from 1864-1873. His legacy included an emphasis on improved education and was a major figure in the creation of the first Indianapolis Public Library. Under his leadership and direction, the church implemented what was possibly the first use of hymnbooks at Second. Assisted by the gifts of Sunday School Superintendent Ms. Eleanor Kirby, Edson also established an innovative graded teaching curriculum that served as a model in the Indianapolis community.
Notably, Second Church music program blossomed into one of the finest in the State under the leadership of Organist/Choirmaster Robert J. Shepfer between 1964-1997, in partnership with lay leader Margaret Herder. A graded children’s choir school formed to develop God-given talents of children and teach music fundamentals, ensemble technique and tradition through learning of scripture, sacrament, doctrine and history. The Sanctuary Choir toured through Scotland and England for concerts at St. Giles in Edinburgh, Scotland, St. Martin’s in the Field in London, and other venues. Shepfer’s legacy of exceptional music continues with his successors as Director of Music and Fine Arts: Mark Riddles (1998-2005) and Dr. Michelle L. Louer (2007-present).