Christmas with Cornils

Ray Cornils Announces His Retirement as Municipal Organist and Minister of Music of First Parish Church

Ray Cornils will be retiring from his position as Minister of Music of First Parish Church, UCC in Brunswick, ME on August 31, 2017 and as Municipal Organist for the City of Portland effective December 31, 2017. During his career, Mr. Cornils has been an exemplary champion of the transformative power of music through his enthusiasm for arts education, music appreciation, and performance throughout Southern Maine.

As Minister of Music at First Parish Church for over 30 years, Mr. Cornils built an extensive multi-generational music ministry of five vocal choirs and two handbell choirs. This work included leading the vocal choirs on international concert tours as well as handbell choir performances with the Portland Symphony Orchestra and the AGEHR Handbell Festival in 2001. In addition to leading the church’s worship services, each year the Adult Choir presented a major choral work with full orchestra and professional soloists, including works by Brahms, Dvorak, Mendelssohn, Ann Wilson, Vaughan Williams, Stephen Paulus, and Bach.

In his 27 years as Portland’s 10th Municipal Organist, Mr. Cornils oversaw, with the assistance of the Friends of the Kotzschmar Organ, the renovation of the city’s 1912 V/104 Austin Organ, which began on the occasion of the instrument’s 100th anniversary. In addition to extensive concertizing, Mr. Cornils developed a comprehensive educational program that promotes the organ through in-classroom programs that explore the life and works of composers J.S. Bach and Olivier Messiaen and the science of pipe organ sound production.

Mr. Cornils has had a profound effect on the musical and spiritual life of Southern Maine and will be missed by local classical music fans, students, and all those who call Portland home.