Music is a major part of worship at St. Michael and All Angels. Most services have some music, whether it be the full choir accompanying our Æolian-Skinner Pipe Organ at the 10:30 AM mass, or the congregation singing at our Family Mass, accompanied on guitar by musician David Uhrig. Guest musicians often accompany the choirs during Christmas and Easter celebrations. Music during the High Mass ranges from familiar hymns to classical pieces to original music.
The St. Michael and All Angels Choir sings at the 10:30 AM High Mass on most Sundays, at certain feast day masses, and on other selected occasions. Rehearsals are Tuesdays at 7:00 PM and on Sunday mornings. We are always looking for new voices!
Our Director of Music
After eight months of his faithful service as Interim Director of Music, we are very pleased to announce that we have called Dr. Chris Fresolone as Director of Music of St. Michael’s Church. Many of you have gotten to know Chris, and he has become a great part of our liturgical ministry. In addition to his work at St. Michael’s, Chris teaches choir, band, piano, and music theory at the Gregory School. His previous work in churches includes service at Christ Presbyterian Church and Casas Adobes UCC Church, and he has also previously worked as one of several directors at the Tucson Girls’ Chorus.
The A. F. Schultz Æolian-Skinner Pipe Organ
In 2014, our Æolian-Skinner Pipe Organ was renamed the A. F. Schultz Organ, in recognition of Alan F. Schultz’s many contributions to St. Michael’s and the Tucson community. A composer, longtime parishioner, former St. Michael’s music director, and retired English teacher at St. Michael’s School, Alan F. Schultz assisted our former Music Director Douglas Leightenheimer until his death in November, 2019. A loved and respected teacher of English at St. Michael’s School for over 30 years, he trained students in writing, declamation, and public speaking; and provided music for our school masses. Years after his “unconvincing retirement,” he still filled in on the organ, sang in the choir, and occasionally provided new, original music at the High Mass. At the Christmas Eve High Mass in December, 2015, the St. Michael and All Angels Choir performed Carols of the Incarnation, a new Oratorio by A.F. Schultz.
Donations to the Schultz Organ Fund and Endowment are gratefully accepted. Thank you for your generosity!
History of the A. F. Schultz Æolian-Skinner Pipe Organ
Music is intimately bound with the proclamation of the Word, an opportunity for us to express through hymns, anthems and liturgy those feelings that are often difficult to express with words. The music of the Christian faith is meant to deepen and enrich our worship experience. Music has the ability to make us of one heart and voice, a natural response of a living faith. Those who are called to presenting music for worship have the important task of leading worshipers toward greater heights of inspiration and beauty, to the glory of God.
St. Michael’s has had a rich musical tradition, stretching back to the parish’s earliest years under Father John Clinton Fowler, who established the parish choir and hired St. Michael’s first organist. The present-day choir, led by Director of Music Chris Fresolone, is committed to presenting music of the highest caliber on Sundays and special Feast days. Major works with guest musicians are frequently presented at Michaelmas, Christmas Eve and Easter.
The organ has long been considered the most effective musical resource for worship. Its primary function is that of accompanying congregational singing. A well-designed organ is an effective accompaniment to the human voice. Its unique timbre, even at full volume, will complement rather than cover congregational singing. An organ should also offer a variety of tone colors to give it the flexibility needed for other liturgical uses, and for use as a solo instrument.
Our Æolian-Skinner organ is an excellent representation of the “American Classic” design. It was originally built for Christ Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1959.
St. Michael’s purchased this instrument in 1989. Upon arrival in Arizona, its many parts were stored at a local car dealership while fundraising took place and the church building was expanded with an organ chamber to house it. In 1998, after repairs and upgrades were made, it was installed at St. Michael’s. The organ has now been completed, with the addition of the Antiphonal division, as well as changes and additions to the other divisions. To celebrate the Antiphonal division being installed and operational, the organ was rededicated on May 22nd, 2005 with a celebratory concert by nationally-acclaimed organist Todd Wilson.
In 2014, further work began to replace the organ’s termite-damaged wooden foundation with specially sealed boards, to clean the pipes and to install a few additional pieces.
Our completed instrument has been renamed the A. F. Schultz Organ, in recognition of Alan F. Schultz’s many contributions to St. Michael’s and the Tucson community. It continues to be refurbished and updated by master organ builder S. Grahame Davis, including with new electronics in 2017.
The Book of Pipes is a memorial and historical listing of loved ones, living and deceased, who have made a difference in our lives, our community, and the world. Your name, or a name of a loved one living or deceased, can be inscribed in the Book of Pipes. Please contact the parish office, 886-7292, for more information. Brochures are always available in the back of the church, or in the parish office at any time. Also to be published is The Stories Behind the Book of Pipes, telling the stories of all the people inscribed.
The name of each person so honored inscribed on a plaque listing the particular pipe that will play forever in their honor and for the glory of God. Entire sections of the organ have been named in gratitude for the larger endowments that have helped to make St. Michael’s acquisition of this wonderful instrument possible.
Proceeds from donations associated with recognition in the Book of Pipes helped us to pay for the Æolian-Skinner Pipe Organ. Now that the organ is fully paid for, Book of Pipes donations benefit the Alan F. Schultz Organ Fund, established in 2014 to defray the costs of maintaining the organ for years to come.