By Kristin Boza
A church is one of the most beautiful, acoustically attuned places to listen to music. Anyone who has been to a church service knows the importance of the music to the celebration. But what many people may not know is the amount of planning that goes into the service’s music each week. To lead the congregation in its spiritual music, Morgan Park Presbyterian Church (MPPC), 11052 S. Longwood Dr., hired Nicole Murray as its new Music Director since Dec. 2018.
Murray is an accomplished musician and Green Bay, Wisc. native who first came to Chicago when she was accepted into the DePaul University School of Music’s piano program. After earning a BA in Music in 2015, Murray moved to Los Angeles and taught piano with Mixon Music and worked as an accompanist and music director at Calvary Presbyterian Church in LA.
“This was my first experience being completely in charge of the music, and I realized how much I love this job; I’ve always loved administrative work, and being able to combine that with my musical talents was a perfect fit for me,” she said.
When Murray moved back to Chicago in 2018 she worked with a variety of piano studios as a teacher, then founded her own: Nicole’s Piano Studio. Aside from her duties MPPC, Murray instructs 32 piano students each week.
At the church Murray is in charge of selecting the weekly music, leading choir rehearsals and directing the choir. She also hires guest musicians to play at services, and she is responsible for coordinating ongoing community outreach through musical activities. “I collaborate with Pastor Ben [Heimach-Snipes] to plan services that are thoughtful, caring, and meaningful,” she said. “Planning the music in accordance with Pastor Ben’s sermons, in addition to what season we are in, is important because many people connect with scripture through music. I hope to add my own personality to the church community through my background in multiple music genres, and to influence our congregation with my music choices and guide them on their spiritual paths.”
Since joining the Beverly/Morgan Park community, Murray is impressed with the deeply-rooted traditions in the neighborhood. “I admire that many members of this community have been here for their entire lives and continue to contribute ways to continually improve and enrich their home,” she said. “This tight-knit community has welcomed me with open arms and I can’t express enough how much I appreciate that. I look forward to further immersing myself in the MPPC and Beverly/Morgan Park culture.”
MPPC is looking ahead to its annual summer concert, Jazz N Q, held on Sun., Aug. 25. Once again, the Lowdown Brass Band will be featured performers, and Murray will also perform with a quartet. For more information on upcoming events and the church, visit MorganParkPres.org.