MUSIC AT FORT WASHINGTON COLLEGIATE CHURCH
Chris Whittaker, Director of Music
Music is an integral part of worship and the arts at Fort Washington Collegiate Church. We believe God loves to hear our praise and worship, and as we become more and more aware of God’s loving presence in worship, God seeks to “transform us by the renewing of [our] minds” (Romans 12:2).
We love to make a joyful noise to the Lord, and share our gifts and talents with one another.
Our Sunday morning worship experience is wonderfully eclectic and blended! From traditional hymnody, to jazz, to indie-folk and contemporary gospel, we love it all at FWCC, and we want you to come make a joyful noise with us.
We are blessed to live in a city and a neighborhood with so many artists and artistically minded-people, and we hope you find our community one that nurtures your God-given gifts as we seek to discover together more what it means to be a follower of Christ.
Want to join us or learn more? Email Chris Whittaker, Music Director, to get plugged in.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into His presence with singing.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is He that made us, and we are His;
we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving,
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the Lord is good;
His steadfast love endures forever,
and His faithfulness to all generations.
-Psalm 100 (NRSV)
Play Your Part
Here are some of the ways we connect to God and our community through music at Fort Washington Collegiate Church!
The Fort Washington Joyful Voices lead our congregation in worship and praise at our Sunday morning services. A volunteer ensemble of singers with experience ranging from “sing-in-the-shower” music lovers to Broadway and opera professionals, Joyful Voices sings a wide range of music — from traditional hymns to urban gospel; classical to contemporary Christian and secular songs.
Joyful Voices rehearses on Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:15pm with a Sunday morning warm-up at 9am from September through June. Come join us. All are welcome!
For more information about joining, email Director of Music, Chris Whittaker.
Click here to download the season schedule (PDF). Updated for 2019-20 season.
Our Children’s Choir meets regularly during the academic year. All children who like to sing are invited to join!
Email Director of Music, Chris Whittaker.
The FWCC Vocal Scholars Program provides hands-on professional training in vocal performance and musicianship for music students residing in neighborhoods of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx with the objective of further developing well-rounded musicians for careers in performance, ministry, education, and arts management. Supported by the J. Harold Raplinger Memorial Fund, Vocal Scholars are selected by audition, open to high school and college-enrolled vocalists who maintain permanent or current residence in Upper Manhattan neighborhoods or the Bronx. Learn more here.
Our Current Vocal Scholars
Mezzo-soprano Melanie Dubil is a senior undergraduate studying at the Manhattan School of Music. Most recently, Melanie sang in MSM’s Centennial Gala performance at Carnegie Hall as a mezzo-soprano soloist in Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music. Throughout her first three years at MSM, Melanie performed featured roles in scenes from several operas. A few of these roles include Marcellina in scenes from Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro, Polly Peachum in Britten's The Beggar's Opera, and Lazuli in Chabrier’s L'étoile. Over the last two summers, Melanie attended the intensive Italian & French language & diction programs, Classic Lyric Arts, led by artistic director Glenn Morton. Performing in and around Novafeltria, Italy, Melanie sang roles in scenes that include Meg from Verdi's Falstaff, Melibea from Rossini's Il Viaggio a Reims, and Cherubino from Le Nozze di Figaro. Performing around Bergerac, France, Melanie sang roles in scenes that include Cendrillon in Cendrillon and Ursula in Béatrice et Bénédict. In choral settings, Melanie has sung with MSM’s Chamber & Symphonic Choirs and EnsembleNYC; a non-profit ensemble that works to give back to the community. Melanie loves being a part of Joyful Voices at FWCC and sharing her joy and passion for music each week!
Puerto Rican Baritone Melvin Rodriguez had the distinction of winning first place in the 2019 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the district of Puerto Rico. He also won first place in the National Association of Teachers of Singing Competition in the New York City district. In the 2019 season he was selected to participate in the International Summer Opera Festival of Morelia in Morelia, Mexico where he sang the role of “Pistola” in Verdi’s “Falstaff” as well as a featured soloist in their Opera Scenes Concert and Orchestral Opera Gala. Other recent engagements include “Goffredo” in Handel’s “Rinaldo”, 2nd Priest” in Mozart’s “Magic Flute”. Melvin began his musical studies at the prestigious Escuela Libre de Música Ernesto Ramos Antonini of Mayaguez. High School was a big part of his development as an artist, Melvin dedicated this years to study teather in the specialized school CABA in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico and with the Oficina de Arte y Cultura in San German, Puerto Rico doing many musical teather productions like Lion King, Don Quixote and many mores. After graduating, he continued his training in Vocal Performance at the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music under the tutelage of Samuel Perez and Jose Ramon Torres. While in college Melvin was a part of the Opera de Puerto Rico chorus where he have the opportunity to be part of the opera Otello and also in a series of concert which were part of the company’s season. Also he was part of the Zarzuela y Opereta Company singing in various productions. Melvin is currently a voice student of the tenor Raymond Geis.
Connecting to the arts and one another in the neighborhood
FWCC hosts a new community choir program here in Washington Heights, now in its fourth season! We sing a varied repertory, sacred and secular, classical and contemporary, in a variety of languages. All people are welcome, regardless of faith traditions or previous choral experience. The ensemble rehearses on Tuesday evenings throughout the season in preparation for 2-3 public performances.
Interested in joining us? Click here to learn more and enroll!
Now entering its fifth season, FWCC hosts the up-and-coming performing arts organization, the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, who presents a varied season of excellent concert music featuring local professional musicians. To learn more, visit their website at www.washingtonheightsorchestra.org.
About the Music Director
Currently in his sixth year on staff, Chris Whittaker was appointed Music Director in 2015 after having served in interim and assistant roles. A composer, conductor, and pianist from York, PA, Chris’s musical language of jazz, classical, and gospel melds genres and brings people together. As a composer, Chris’s music has been performed and broadcast throughout the United States.
Chris is the co-founder and Music Director of the Washington Heights Chamber Orchestra, a non-profit organization committed to engaging the community through free concerts and educational programming. He also serves as the founding Music Director of Marble Collegiate Church’s “Jazz Revelation” worship service.
Previously, Chris studied orchestral conducting with Kenneth Kiesler and Stuart Malina. His composition teachers include Philip Lasser, Christopher Theofanidis, and Nicholas Maw. Chris has served a diverse range of denominations and worship styles and brings over 10 years of music ministry experience to his post at Fort Washington Collegiate Church. Hear more from Chris at www.chriswhittaker.com.