June 1, 2013

A St. Andrew’s Singalong

The organist/choirmaster at St. Andrew’s, Highland Park, Peter Luley, put this post on Facebook on Thursday:
It’s officially on: A brief sing tomorrow (Friday) at 8:00. A few hymns and familiar anthems, and a champaign [sic] toast. Come and pop in for five min or a half hour, and then on to your evening. I've labored twenty plus years for this night!
St. Andrew’s is making some major improvements to its physical plant this summer. What Peter has been most excited about has been the removal of the carpet in the church. Aisles are to be covered in quarry tile, and a wood floor will be installed under the pews. On Friday night, both carpeting and pews had been removed. (I neglected to ask where the pews had gone. You can’t simply stuff them in a closet!) Peter wanted to enjoy the changed acoustics of the church.

The photos below show how St. Andrew’s looked last night. Needless to say, services will be held elsewhere for a while.

View from the nave looking east

View from the nave looking west

Peter reports that about 20 people responded to his invitation. (I didn’t take a count myself) Most of them were choir folks from St. Andrew’s, but a few singers came from elsewhere. I may have been the visitor who traveled farthest for the event. As promised, we sang a few hymns and a few Tudor anthems, and we enjoyed wine and champagne. (Well, domestic sparkling wine, anyway.) I apologize for not having taken any good pictures of the singing, but I was too busy singing at the time. Mostly, I was singing familiar music, but I also did my share of sight-reading. It was all great fun.

The acoustics of the room are nice, but they may be even better when the new floor is installed. They will be somewhat diminished when people are present, but that can’t be helped, of course.

Update, 6/2/2013. St. Andrew’s parishioner Bill Ghrist helpfully explained where the parish’s pews have gone. Many are in the parish hall:

Others are in the chapel:

Still others are in the chancel:

Pews in chancel
There are some usable rooms at St. Andrew’s, but holding regular Sunday services there is not possible. Worship services are being held at nearby Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.


  1. When we pulled up the carpet and removed the cushions at Christ Church Meadville, we were amazed and enchanted by the new acoustic. People love to perform there. Susan Buell can tell you about it.

    1. In the last renovation of the church of my own parish, St. Paul’s, Mt. Lebanon, we hardened the ceiling. This improved acoustics a good deal. We still have carpeting in the aisles, however.

  2. For the answer to your question about the pews, see my photo in the entry for May 29:


  3. When we put in the new organ at St. Paul's I learned two things about acoustics: 1. The more hard surface the better for music (hence the work on the ceiling). 2. What ever is good for music is bad for voice.

    Congradulations to St. Andrews on this project!

    Geoff Hurd

  4. Spoken and sung word need no longer be enemies. To some degree, this conclusion was advanced without merit based on theology in the past. But never mind today. With a decent sound system, in a very live acoustic, (take Washington National Cathedral) Intelligent (read that word in the context of this post and not literally) speaking in Washington Cathedral is easier to comprehend than in the (botched) system at Trinity Cathedral, Pittsburgh, which happens to hold no notable musical acoustic.


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