Posted by Taylor Chazan

An Important Announcement from the Music Search Committee

After seven months of working steadily, Neighborhood’s Music Director Search Committee is pleased to announce Dr. Zanaida Robles as Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church’s newest Music Director!

Dr. Robles holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree from USC’s Thornton School of Music, a Master of Music degree from Cal State Northridge, a Bachelor of Music degree from Cal State Long Beach, and she is a graduate of the L.A. County High School for the Arts.

Dr. Robles is currently the choral director at Harvard-Westlake Upper School and is coming to us from her soon-to-be former position, as Music Director at the Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Santa Monica.

Dr. Robles is a highly regarded professional musician. She came to us, recommended by Rev. Lissa’s Unitarian Universalist colleagues, and our own Stephen Grimm. Her resume and references were impressive. From the start, with only her credentials, several members of the Search Committee believed that she was a candidate who demonstrated true potential to partner with us, synergistically, to build upon our classical foundation, and to take us beyond to create an exciting musical future for our congregation.

During her in-person interview, Dr. Robles came across as warm, personable and down-to-earth. She demonstrated these qualities, while communicating, to us, her outstanding musicianship and vast knowledge of music history, including classical and contemporary pieces and composers. She demonstrated a sophisticated understanding of the dynamics and nuances of cultural misappropriation and shared our commitment to authentically exploring more diverse genres of music. Throughout the interview, her depth of knowledge and years of experience in music direction radiated in demonstrable emotional and spiritual maturity.

During her interview, Dr. Robles described her journey into music direction as “a call.” She shared openly how she was drawn to Unitarian Universalism and church music ministry, and narrated, for us, how she came to consider and apply for the position at Neighborhood.

In her conducting audition, with the choir, her seemingly naturally-didactic manner was both joyful and invitational. As she led the choir, in music direction, she was precise, methodical, and clear. This supported choir members in feeling relaxed and confident as they executed challenging musical pieces. The choir’s sound quality was notably and dramatically changed over the course of the hour-long audition/rehearsal.

During the portion of the audition where she led the congregation, she helped NUUC’s members “find their voices,” and take on new hymns, from the Singing the Journey hymnal with remarkable results. She presented as a competent and skilled teacher, who pushed us steadily, but gently towards vocal cohesion, and with an interest for us to also explore the spiritual dimensions of the hymns, whether through words or melody.

By the end of the evening of her audition, choir and congregational members, alike streamed out of the sanctuary remarking, “That was fun!”
Dr. Robles and her family reside in Duarte. She has two elementary school-aged daughters and is married to a choral vocalist and musician. Dr. Robles is a spiritual seeker with an Episcopalian background and is eager to find a new spiritual home for her family, including having her children sing in, what we hope will be, Neighborhood’s newest Children Choir.

Dr. Robles, Neighborhood Unitarian Universalist Church welcomes you with open arms!

From Our New Music Director Dr. Zanaida Robles

I am thrilled to be joining the team at Neighborhood Church! Many thanks to the search committee and to Stephen Grimm whose encouragement and support were instrumental in my decision to seek employment here. When someone believes in you, you start to believe in yourself. Stephen believed in me, and now I’m coming here, back home to the San Gabriel Valley, preparing to embark on the next chapter of an incredible journey, following a call to music ministry that began 17 years ago right here in Pasadena. I am eager to get to know you. I look forward to hearing your stories and to sharing mine. Most of all, I can’t wait to make music with you! See you in September!

One Response to Introducing our Newest Music Director!

  1. Nancy Holland says:

    Congratulations! Well done! Zanaida is eminently qualified and a fabulous musician and delightful person. I couldn’t be more pleased with your choice.