Music in the Air

April 6-12, 2006
Music in the Air
By Claudia Mathis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
St. Augustine’s Church in Baldwinsville Hires New Music Director

BALDWINSVILE — Father Paul Alciati knew he had to do something when he heard that St. Augustine’s music director Carol Spradling was taking a sabbatical to teach in Vermont. Father Alciati set about forming a music search committee last November, hiring Laurianne Fleming to replace Spradling as the new music director at St. Augustine’s.

The committee was looking for a person who would work well with the parish staff as well as the choir and cantors. Also important was a familiarity with Catholic worship and the ability to play both keyboard and organ. They were also looking for a person who was a good vocalist and who was open to change. Fleming was confident when the committee interviewed her. “It felt like it was the right place to be when I walked in for the interview,” remarked Fleming.

As part of the interview process, Fleming auditioned with the choir at St. Augustine’s. She led one of the choir’s rehearsals — one in which they were practicing Christmas music. “We each got an idea of how the other one works,” said Fleming. “We had a great time.” Fleming began at her new position on Jan. 7. “It’s been wonderful,” said Fleming. “The people — staff, choir and community — have been 100 percent supportive. I’ve been enjoying the people here. They’re willing to go along with new ideas and try new things. I also like the organ and piano.” Fleming heard about the open music director position from her cousin, who is a parishioner at St. Augustine’s. “I felt like it was the right time in my career to apply for the position,” said Fleming. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester and will be completing her master’s degree this spring.

Fleming has had extensive experience conducting wind ensembles, orchestra percussion ensembles, choral ensembles, soloists and chamber music. She presently teaches piano and is the percussion instructor for the Hannibal Marching Band. She was director of music at Perinton Community Church in Oswego. She also directed the children’s choir at Oswego United Methodist Church. Fleming is responsible for planning, preparing and directing all the music at the church. Presently, she is directing close to 30 young people and adults in the rehearsal of a musical play entitled “The Living Way of the Cross.” The performance is scheduled for April 6. The drama tells the story of the crucifixion from a soldier’s perspective. “It’s going to be quite moving,” promised Fleming.

Fleming has made some changes to the music program at St. Augustine’s since arriving. She formed a youth choral group and the members of the choir have increased from 15 to 23. She has upgraded the church sound system equipment by adding microphones. Fleming has also incorporated more instrumentation into the Masses. “The first weekend I worked at St. Augustine’s, I announced to the congregation that I would welcome anyone’s performance on an instrument as part of the music of the Masses,” said Fleming. “A lot of people came up and told me that they would like to play their instrument during the Masses. We have a lot of great talent here in the church — I plan to tap into it.” St. Augustine’s parishioner Lin Kilts said that Fleming has made a very favorable impression on the parishioners. “She’s doing a very good job,” said Kilts. “She’s very approachable. I think that’s why the children are so attracted to her.”

Father Alciati can’t say enough kind things about her. “She’s a delightful person to work with,” remarked Father Alciati. “I find her competent, flexible, cheerful and excited about her ministry. She jumped into the ministry beautifully. She’s continued the enthusiasm of our worship here.”

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