director and organist who manned the pedals for the Westmoreland
Congregational United Church of Christ in Bethesda, Maryland,
from 1976 to 2003. Shortly
after becoming the church organist, she also assumed the duties of the
choir director. On Sondra’s
watch, the church’s choral music program flourished with four choirs,
Chancel, Children’s, Passing Tones, and Trebles, and a repertoire
that encompassed works from the 14th-21st centuries. She also directed and produced an
annual stage musical with Biblical themes, cast right out of the church
In 1982, she
founded the Circle Singers, who sang everything from medieval to
contemporary music. They
recorded “Deigne at my hands” from
Robert Passow’s La Corona in 1987.
as President of the American Choral Directors Association’s Eastern
Division from 1982 to 1984.
November 1991, she and fellow
pianist Lamar Sims, soprano Shelley Waite and the Washington Singers, under
the baton of Paul Hill, recorded“Dream Dust”,
“Feet o’ Jesus”, “Fire!”, “Song for
Billie Holiday”, “When Sue Wears Red” and “Wonder”
at the Church of the Epiphany in Washington, D.C. She reunited with Paul Hill in 1995
when she played organ on the holiday album, A Paul Hill Chorale Christmas.
In 1996, she
commissioned “Sketchbook Two” from composer Daniel E. Gawthrop for a European tour.
the Circle Singers in a performance of Gian Carlo
Menotti’s opera, The Unicorn,
the Gorgon and the Manticore at the Bradley
Hills Presbyterian Church in Bethesda
on 18th May 1997.
December 1998, she led them in a Christmas program entitled “Carols
With Care”, which included a pair of Latin motets by Hans Leo Hassler and Tomas Luis de Victoria, at the headquarters
of the American Red Cross in the nation’s capital.
Sondra was one
of three conductors who led a Messiah
sing-in at Kennedy Center Concert Hall in New York, New York,
on 23rd December 1999.
She also played the organ during the concert’s exciting “Hallelujah
April 2000, she gave a free concert at the Westmoreland Congregational
United Church of Christ, in memoriam Alexander Toth.
the Circle Singers in a concert of rare American works by composers such as
Elliott Carter at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Washington, D.C.,
on 8th May 2001.
October 2002, she and fellow organists Johnnye Egnot, Julie Vidrick Evans,
Mary Mozzelle and Sonya Subbayya
Sutton treated the Westmoreland Congregational United Church of Christ to a
Halloween concert, in full costume.
and performed in her final service as choir director and organist of
Westmoreland on 1st June 2003.
to 25th June 2003, the American Guild of Organists held its
Region III Convention in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Sondra gave a workshop entitled “Repertoire
for Small Choir”.
The Circle Singers as they accompanied Bowen McCauley Dance at Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater on 15th
December 2005, she conducted them in a variety of settings that included David
Conte’s “Ave Maria”, Eleanor Daley’s “Dormi, Jesu!”, Giovanni
Christus Natus Est” and Jan Pieterszoon
Sweelinck’s “Hodie” at St.
an organ recital at Good Shepherd Lutheran
Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland,
on 18th March 2006.
On 25th February 2007, she did same in Hosmer Hall at Potsdam,
the State University of New York.
She gave a
morning of workshops at Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Baltimore, Maryland,
on 19th January 2008.
They covered a wide gamut of topics, including contracts, music
interpretation, ministering, neck flexibility, pay scales, and service
June 2008, she helped present a workshop entitled “Body Building
for Your Concert Audiences” at the American Guild of Organists’
National Convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.
Evensong with the Spirituals Choir of the Unitarian Universalist Society in
Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts,
on 29th June 2008.
Swann, President of the American Guild of Organists, tapped Sondra to serve
on the Task Force for Promotion of the Organ for An International Organ
Celebration in 2008-2009.
October 2009, she played “Music for an Inauguration” in
Gunnison Memorial Chapel at St. Lawrence University’s installation of
President William L. Fox. The
same venue found her seated at the organ for a concert of English music that
included “The Hymn of Jesus” by Gustav Holst
and “A Song of Thanksgiving” by Ralph Vaughan Williams on 13th
November 2009, she was a guest organist at Die Seelsorge
der Asklepios Paulinen Klinik in Wiesbaden, Germany.
She was the
organist du jour at the Kennedy
Center for the annual
Messiah sing-along on 29th
February 2010, she participated in the Eastern Division of American Choral
Directors Associations’ face2face conversations at the Marriott in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The event gives attendees fifteen
minutes to pick the brains of clinicians, composers and conductors.
on half of “Four Hands, Four Feet”, a celebration of Central
and European organ music, with Martin Kasparek,
in Gunnison Memorial Chapel on 10th April 2010. The music complemented an exhibition
of student paintings inspired by Nicholas Roerich.
at the organist-in-residence in the Chaplain’s Office at St. Lawrence
University in Canton, New York.
Paul Hill Chorale recordings
O Come All Ye Faithful (Frederick
Oakeley/John Francis Wade)
Arranger – Jackson Berkey
Conductor – Paul Hill
Organist – Sondra Proctor
Capital Brass and Percussion Ensemble