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Welcoming LGBTQ

Music at Live Oak

"I've seen people weeping because the third line in the fourth verse
had an image that cradled them or evoked a beautiful memory.
Music can bring a level of emotional resonance
that no other form of worship can."
Rev. Mark Belletini

Choir members singingLive, 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 two services each month. 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.

Our Music Director

Our Music Director, David Howitt, has a Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance and a Master of Arts in Composition from San Francisco State University. Additionally he holds a California State Teaching Credential in Music and Mathematics. David has studied the organ with Joanna Smullin, Harold Mueller and Alexander Post and composition with Roger Nixon and Wayne Peterson, a Pulitzer Prize winner in music composition.

Following college David accompanied for many musicals in the Bay Area, the Midwest and played for a traveling theatre company based in the Washington DC area. Since 1985 he has been the organist for St. Joseph Basilica, Alameda, becoming the Music Director in 1993. For 25 years David taught elementary, middle and high school music and was, at various times a resource and math teacher as well.

David lives happily in Alameda with his multi-talented wife, Audrey (voice teacher, writer and legal expert) and with step-daughters Amanda and Katrina and son-in-law Danny close by!

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)
  • Hymns from Singing the Living Tradition, a UU hymnbook, and the newer UU hymnal, Singing the Journey

Joining the Live Oak Choir

Ours is a volunteer choir -- and all are welcome. Rehearsals are held three times per month (one Tuesday evening and two Sundays, just before the service).

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. Ask any choir member for more information or you may email

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.)

Instrumentalists Welcome

We are blessed to have members and friends who play instruments (piano, cello, French horn, drums, e.g.) and share their talents with us in worship. Please let a member of the music committee ( or our choir director ( know if you are interested in enhancing our service with your gift.

Photo (right): Susan Sonnemaker and Debra Temple playing Orff instruments during a worship service.

Special Musical Performances

The Live Oak UU choir offers a holiday concert in mid-December each year. The concert is free and open to the public. Each one has been very well attended. Our children join us near the end of the concert to sing a song or two -- by themselves and with our choir to sing Jingle Bells. Watch for the date.

Other Special Music Events

In 2010 our choir joined the choir of the First UU Society of San Francisco to perform David Conte's In Praise of Music. The joint choir performed in San Francisco and Alameda.

Listen to the joint choir performing this lovely, neo-Romantic work by San Francisco-based composer David Conte. With thanks to the San Francisco church for this recording.

Photo: Joint choir singing at Live Oak. (Thanks to Niels Kjellund for the photo.)

© 2023 Live Oak UU Fellowship        510-295-7832