Service Music

We are a community who believe in the spiritual power of music. There are many ways to hear or get involved in music-making at UUCB, including participating in our services or attending events in our Casual Concert SeriesMore information about service music can be found below.

Are you looking for an opportunity to sing in a welcoming community? The Unitarian Universalist Choir of Buffalo is a diverse group made up of primarily volunteer singers, ranging from beginners to semi-professionals, from folks in their 20s to their 80s, that does not discriminate on bases of race, gender, or sexual identity. Our musical repertoire is diverse – with recent and upcoming performances including traditional, folk, rock, contemporary, and classical music dealing with topics both sacred and secular. Rehearsals are every Thursday night 7:30-9:30pm from early September through mid-June. We perform once or twice a month in services, as well as at select events around town. Feel free to show up at a rehearsal or to reach out to Music Director Dr. Jessie Downs ( if you are interested in joining us!

Choir Members Photobook (password protected)

Musical Guests
In addition to performances by our choir and staff musicians, we also regularly feature guest musicians in our services, both volunteers from our own congregation and featured artists from the greater Buffalo area. These guests represent a broad range of musical styles. If you are interested in being a guest, you can reach out to Music Director Dr. Jessie Downs ( with a proposal.

March Service Music

On Sunday March 5th, guitarist Paul Zanolli will support the Music Staff in offering up folk-pop-style tunes about the month’s theme of vulnerability. The service will kick off with the Paul Zanolli original “Scribbles and Scratches” about the vulnerability of the artistic process. At the Offertory, Paul will team up with Lia and Taryn on “Bobby” by Alex G – a song about dissociating with the vulnerable parts of ourselves. At the Reflection, the Helen and Paul duo return with the heart-rending “Hurt” by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails – also known for the mellower rendition by Johnny Cash. As the Postlude, Helen will share the short but sweet “Fabric” by Half Waif, with the lyrics “But you keep breaking me apart. You keep making me a part.” that echo the service’s title.

On Sunday March 12th, we will be joined by guest speaker Sheila Raham – editor of the Buffalo News. In support of her sermon, Chris Sierzchula, Mike Harris, and the UUCB choir will share songs with a news theme. As the Prelude, Chris will share a piano arrangement of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” (which opens with the line “I read the news today, oh boy!”). At the Offertory, the choir will share the spiritual “Ain’a That Good News” as arranged by William L. Dawson. As the Postlude, Michael will share the comedic “That is the End of the News.”

On Sunday March 19th, Joan will be speaking about the tragic extinctions of many plant and animal species – not only from the world but from our vocabulary – as we celebrate the Vernal Equinox. Chris Sierzhula will begin this contemplative service with a contemplative classical piano piece. At the Offertory, the choir will share Johannes Brahm’s “Die Nachtigall, sie singt so schön (The Nightingale sings so sweetly).” As the Reflection, a subset of the choir will sing an 8-part rendition of “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music. As the Postlude, Taryn will sing “Meadowlark” from The Baker’s Wife.

On Sunday March 26th, representatives of the Covenant Group Ministry will be speaking about how their ministry creates “safe sacred space,” while Lia and Taryn share popular tunes about doing just that. The service will start out with “Beautiful City” from Godspell. At the Offertory, Taryn and Lia will sing “A Safe Place to Land” by Sara Bareilles and Lori McKenna, as recorded by Bareilles with John Legend. As the Postlude, Lia will sing Bruno Mars’s “Count on Me,” with Paul Zanolli on guitar.

​Our Music Director, Dr. Jessie Downs, is a composer, soprano, and vocal instructor with a passion for combining tradition and innovation. She is active as an acclaimed composer of opera and chamber music, performs regularly as a concert soloist with a focus in bel canto, and teaches private voice lessons – online and in person – to a diverse cohort of students. She holds a Bachelors of Music from Oberlin Conservatory (2013) and a PhD in Composition – awarded  “with distinction” – from the University at Buffalo (2021).