Follen Names New Music Director: Tyler Turner

The Music Director Search Committee and Reverend Claire are delighted to let you know that we have selected Charles Tyler Turner as the next Director of Music at Follen.

Tyler, who currently teaches choral music and piano at Natick High School and directs the music program at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Wellesley, will join Follen on August 1.

From our earliest discussions with Tyler, Reverend Claire and the committee were deeply impressed by his musical knowledge, his experience with children, youth and adults, his passion for music in a worship setting, and his newfound love for Unitarian Universalism. Beyond musicianship, we were looking for someone who would be a full partner for Reverend Claire in shaping worship, as well as an accomplished and experienced leader for our youth and junior choirs. His school colleagues spoke warmly of how skillfully Tyler, in just a few years, has turned the Natick High School choral program into a growing and vibrant part of that community. His church colleagues noted his intellect, excellent music skills, warmth, kindness and genuine commitment to music as a spiritual experience.

Tyler is excited to join the Follen community. He writes: “I am thrilled to lead such a fantastic, thriving music program. Growing up in a conservative church, discovering UU-ism helped me reclaim my faith––especially through music. I believe that congregational music programs can minister to people in special ways. I see your wonderful choirs, musical theatre program, and musically rich worship and know that I belong at Follen. The ministry your music provides to the youth of this congregation particularly inspires me, and I am eager to bring my love for music education to this community. I am inspired, too, by the deep musical traditions at Follen. I am eager to continue these while also exploring the boundless possibilities for making this music program a ministry for all who come here. I look forward to meeting you all soon!”

This happy news comes at the end of an intensive process. The committee and Reverend Claire have spent many hours together (with excellent snacks) since November. We researched and wrote a job description and posted it in many venues. Claire also consulted with fellow ministers who had been through a music director search process. The committee solicited input from the congregation in a questionnaire that fully 173 members filled out – an amazing response – then held listening sessions with the Senior Choir and the congregation as a whole to get more feedback. We also spoke with our soloists, accompanist Shaylor Lindsey, and others who have been involved in music here.

During the process we received approximately 60 applications. After review, we followed up with 12 preliminary phone interviews; five in-person interviews with the committee; and three finalists. In the past three weeks each of the finalists met one-on-one with Claire, and guest-conducted the junior, youth and senior choirs. The committee and Claire received feedback from the choirs, which was an important final step in making our decision.

We are fortunate to have had three wonderful candidates. We admire all of them – their skill at music and ministry, their knowledge, abilities, and great hearts. After careful consideration, the committee and Reverend Claire decided unanimously to ask Tyler to join us. He has accepted with happiness and a strong sense of the legacy created by our beloved Thomas and Holly. He, Reverend Claire, Thomas and Holly, and all of us on the committee are confident he will carry on the wonderful music traditions that we love at Follen, and also take us in new and exciting directions.

Tyler grew up in the small town of McMinnville, Tennessee, where music was at the center of community life. He holds a BA in Music and Educational Studies from Rhodes College and a Master of Education degree in The Arts and Education from Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts in Music Education from Boston University. He plays piano and organ, and is very excited to begin playing our historical Hook organ!

In coming months you will have opportunities to give the new director input on your hopes and dreams for Follen’s musical future. In the meantime, you can learn more about Tyler on his website.

The committee and Reverend Claire hopes you will join them in extending a warm welcome to Tyler. We thank all of you for your input over these past months.

With best wishes,

The Music Director Search Committee

Kate Bromley

Karen Gray Carruthers

Gordon Hardy

Nick Hart