Music director steps down after more than 20 years at Evanston church

Jia You

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Alice Lane, organist and music director at Lake Street Church since 1991, directed her last concert at 607 Lake St. on Sunday. A child of a minister father and a pianist mother, Lane was introduced to church music at a young age. As the choir director, she directed major works such as Handel’s “Messiah,” expanded the choir from 10 to about 30 members and restored the church’s two grand pianos. The 68-year-old grandmother also sings in the 4 On A Chord Quartet barbershop quartet and directs The North Shore Harmonizers choir. She will continue to teach piano and organ at the church.

Daily: What were the goals you set for the Lake Street Church choir when you took the helm in 1991?

Lane: The first thing that I really needed to do was to establish a relationship with the choir members and with the congregation, and let them know that this was their choir and new people would be welcome. That brought in some people who … discovered “Oh I can do this, I can do harder music.”

Daily: Why did you decide to step down this year?

Lane: I really think that the energy, creativity and the exposure to music that’s going to appeal to people in their 20s and 30s, comes best from someone … who’s possibly younger, has more energy and can give their undivided attention to the church. I’m at a point where I’d like to spend a little more time with my husband and my grandchildren, and see if some other doors open.

Daily: What was the most memorable concert you directed?

Lane: The first time that I directed a full orchestra in a full major work, which would have been Mendelssohn’s “Elijah.” For me that was a tremendous achievement. We went on to do a lot of others, and they were probably done better, but the first one is always pretty exciting.

Daily: You directed your last concert Sunday. How did you feel?

Lane: I was having a ball. We had a bottle band. A whole bunch of choir members rehearsed a couple times and they brought up the bottles, and we blew into the bottles. We played some serious music in a very funny way.

Daily: You have extensive involvement in music outside the church as well. How does your musical involvement in the church and outside complement each other?

Lane: For me, they kind of complete the picture. I get to do gorgeous sacred music in a beautiful sacred place, and then I get to do really goofy, silly, corny music as well as Broadway songs.

Daily: What’s your favorite genre of music, and why?

Lane: I like almost everything except the pray music that some churches use, which doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not really big on jazz or hard rock music.

Daily: What does church music mean to you?

Lane: That, and almost any kind of music that is done really well, is a way of expressing joy and appreciation for being alive and being receptive to a relationship with all people, being able to give back, and to be fully human.

jiayou2014@u.northwestern.edu

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