Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Forrest Ransburg Takes up the Music Program at Tree of Life UU Congregation

Forrest Ransburg, trademark bow tie and all, at the Tree of Life piano at a summer service.

When the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry gathers this Sunday, September 11 to kick off a new church year, the Rev. Sean Parker Dennison will lead the Congregation in Renewing our Covenant and students will return to Church School.  But many eyes will be on the Adult Choir which will perform for the first time under the leadership of new Music Director Forrest Ransburg.
The youthful Ransburg was called to the church after a nationwide search.  Long-time Music Director Thomas Steffens retired earlier this summer after leading the choir on its triumphant tour of the Unitarian heritage churches of Transylvania in Romania.   Ransburg spent the summer getting to know the Congregation, playing and performing at worship services, and rehearsing with the choir.
“I am thrilled to be a part of this wonderfully warm and welcoming group.”  Ransburg said.  “At a recent event that some members of the church held for my upcoming wedding with my now husband, I said that I had taken a job but gotten a family. That is precisely how I feel and I cannot wait to provide music that reflects the beautiful diversity of our congregation.”
Ransburg, a North Carolina native, has already established a notable career as versatile concert performer and composer.  He was educated at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University (B.M. in Flute Performance and Composition) and the Manhattan School of Music (Advanced Study in Contemporary Performance) and has also studied privately with noted flute, piano, voice, and composition teachers. 
In addition to his work as a solo artist, Ransburg has performed with ensembles including the Chicago Composers Orchestra and Tactus at the Manhattan School of Music.  He has presented his work and the works of his colleagues at the Institute and Festival for Contemporary Performance at Mannes and the Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practices at the New England Conservatory.  He has performed in venues ranging from Chicago’s Orchestra Hall to New York City’s Guggenheim Museum to galleries, studios, private homes, and public spaces all across the country.
Broadcasts of his work have aired on WFMT and WTTW Chicago as well as various online music streaming sites.  He has premiered more than 50 works of his peers and colleagues, many of which were written expressly for him

Forrest in an informal moment.

Ransburg lives in Chicago’s Rogers Park neighborhood with his husband, a fellow musician.  The quarter-time position at Tree of Life will allow him the flexibility to continue his busy schedule of performance, collaboration, and composition.
In addition to leading the Adult Choir, which is recognized as one of the finest in McHenry County, Ransburg will collaborate closely with Rev. Dennison and the Worship Arts Committee in crafting unique Sunday morning experiences.  He will also help oversee and arrange a second season of the highly popular Church of… musical worship services highlighting various musical genres, composers, and professional performers.  He will coordinate occasional special events and concerts hosted by the Congregation.  Ransburg has already begun another season of the popular Haystacks Coffee House Open Mic and Jam nights.
Services at Tree of Life begin at 10:45 every Sunday morning.  Child care is available.  Coffee and refreshments are shared in an informal Social Hour after services.
For more information contact the Tree of Life office at 815 322-2464 , e-mail , or visit .

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