McHenry's Tree of Life UU welcomes interim music director

  • Dr. Jie Yi will serve as the interim music director for the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry.

    Dr. Jie Yi will serve as the interim music director for the Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation in McHenry. Courtesy Tree of Life UU Congregation

Updated 10/27/2021 12:42 PM

The Tree of Life Unitarian Universalist Congregation, 5603 Bull Valley Road in McHenry, has appointed a new interim music director to aid the congregation in providing quality musical programing while it continues to conduct Sunday morning services via Zoom due to the continued high infections rates due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Although the congregation hopes to return to in-person services as soon as it is safe and possible, that is weeks or months away.


Dr. Jie Yi is currently the music director of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Huntington, New York and will continue in that position as well.

Jie holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree in conducting from Manhattan School of Music. He is the author of "Chinese for Singers," the first comprehensive guide for Western singers to use in singing Chinese texts. Jie conducted "Messe de Minuit" by Charpentier, "Musikalische Exequien" by Schütz, and "Missa O quam gloriosum" by Victoria at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in 2018 and 2019. He also conducted Handel's coronation anthem "Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened" at Riverside Church in 2018. In 2015, he made his Carnegie Hall debut, conducting Xian Xinghai's "Yellow River Cantata." He was Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor at the Shanghai Opera from 2008 to 2013. Jie is a recipient of the Asian Culture Council Fellowship (2011) and the U.S. China Cultural Institute Fellowship for Young Conductors (2006). As pianist and vocal coach, he performed at La Lingua della Lirica Festival in Italy (2015-16) and performed Bellini's opera "I Capuletti e i Montecchi" at Manhattan School of Music (2013).

Jie will be able to work remotely from Huntington because he is especially adept at the technical aspects of creating videos blending the voices of many individual singers recording their parts from their homes. He has already begun work with members of the Tree of Life Choir and together they expect to create music for services two times a month and prepare a Christmas/Yule/Solstice/Winter holiday music service in December. He will work closely in planning services with Tree of Life's Interim Minister, the Rev. Jenn Gracen.

The congregation's choir is one of the most highly regarded in McHenry County and is known for its wide repertoire including not only hymns and other worship music but also jazz, pop, folk, Broadway, international music, and classical. They toured internationally to Romania (Transylvania) in 2016 and have performed in both McHenry County choral music programs and with regional Unitarian Universalist choirs. The ensemble included several outstanding soloists as well.

Tree of Life is also still conducting a search for a permanent music director who will be able to lead the choir and coordinate other music as the congregation returns to live, in-person worship.

Tree of Life Sunday services are currently held via Zoom at 10:45 a.m. Visit the congregation at for links to the services.

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