Live Oak UU Fellowship
in Alameda

Music at Live Oak

Live, vibrant music is an experience that everyone shares at Live Oak Fellowship. We joyously sing together, accompanied by talented pianists (and occasionally by drummers or other instrumentalists). Instrumental interludes provide a time of reflection or prayer during services.
The Live Oak choir sings at every service They perform a varied repertoire of music chosen thematically each week to enhance and communicate the message of the sermon. The message is conveyed through song in a worshipful and reverent manner that provides an interactive and meaningful presentation to the congregation.

Susan T. Mashiyama is Live Oak's Music Director. She is a PhD, is a singer and multi-instrumentalist who plays the harp, piano, violin, guitar, ukulele, and percussion instruments. A composer whose pieces are inspired by nature and mythology, she actively performs and teaches music in the Bay Area. Regarding her religious background, Susan grew up as a Buddhist and her grandfather was the Bishop of the Shingon Buddhist Church in Hawaii. Susan holds a PhD in biology from UC Berkeley and is interested in both the science and emotions behind music. She is a graduate of the Music Leadership Certification Program of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) for which coursework included exploring what music means to us in terms of historical context, spirituality, and being human.  
Alameda-based Merrill Collins plays the organ and piano at our services. A musician since early childhood, she is a composer and keyboard artist with a classical background. Merrill loves making soothing music that lifts people emotionally and touches their hearts and spirits.
Musical Styles
The Live Oak UU choir performs music from the traditional to the sublime. Below are some music styles (with examples of songs) that were part of past worship services:
  • Multicultural (Sengalese chant "Kaki Lambe" and Zulu chorale "Siyahamba")
  • Traditional Folksongs ("If I Had a Hammer") and American Folk anthems (John Lennon's "Imagine")
  • African American Spirituals ("Sometimes I feel Like a Motherless Child," "A Balm in Gilead"
  • Contemporary and Classical choral compositions (Fred Small's "Everything Possible" and Ron Jeffer's "This We Know")
  • Top 40 hits and Musical Theater pieces arranged for choirs (Elvis' "Heartbreak Hotel" and "Be Kind to Your Parents" from Fanny)
Joining the Live Oak Choir

Ours is a volunteer choir -- and all are welcome. Rehearsals are held  on Sundays, just before the service and there are occasional Saturday practice for major performances.

The current singers in the Live Oak UU choir have varied musical experiences and skills, but share a common goal: to worship through song. Whether you are a professional singer or just like to have fun with some musical fellowship, we welcome any and all who wish to participate.
Each member of our choir brings a different set of talents, skills and experiences to our rehearsals and we invite anyone who enjoys singing to join us at our rehearsals. Even if you can't commit to singing with us at every worship service (or every rehearsal), we would still love to have you check us out. 
Choir singing in a service.

Photo: The growing Live Oak choir singing during a service in September-2015. (Thanks to Neil Planchon for the photo.)