Adult Choir

Interested in Joining the Choir?

Step 1:  Visit a Rehearsal – You are invited to “sit in” on a rehearsal or two, to see if you’d like to join. When visiting, you may sing along if you wish, or you may simply observe. Check the choir schedule (here) for the next rehearsal time.  Please let the music director know ahead of time if you are planning a visit, so we can inform you of any last-minute schedule changes.  Contact the directors here.

Step 2:  Your Skills – Requirements: To join the parish choir, a singer must demonstrate that he or she can vocally match a pitch played on the organ, and can carry a tune reliably (even a simple tune will do – Amazing Grace, Happy Birthday, God Bless America, etc). Additionally, you should be available to attend all (or nearly all) scheduled events and rehearsals. A cooperative attitude, a willingness to learn, and some creativity are good things to bring with you.

Choir Members:

visit the Adult Choir’s Resources site here:

About the Adult Choir

Mission:  Enhancing the celebration of Mass and other special occasions with traditional hymns, sacred choral concert repertoire, and new compositions, this mixed adult ensemble provides a space for personal musical and vocal growth, as well as collaborative music making and community building. All levels welcome!  The choir is one branch of the parish’s “Ministry Society,” and its members serve as music ministers. The choir is an important part of creating and inspiring a sincere attitude of prayer in all those who attend our church, and who hear us sing.

Events:  The parish choir sings for special events at the church throughout the year, including Christmas Eve, Easter Sunday, First Communion, Confirmation, Immaculate Conception, Pentecost, Corpus Christi and more. We sing in English, Italian, and Latin.

Rehearsals:  The choir rehearses seasonally (usually September to December, and January to early June), once a week on Wednesday evening. Rehearsals are held in the church. Rehearsals are typically an hour and 45 minutes.  All rehearsals are announced on this website.

Attendance:  Each member’s individual participation makes a big difference. For the choir to function well, we need everyone to attend every event, or the sound of the whole group suffers.  There are legitimate reasons to be absent – illness, a death in the family, once-in-a-lifetime opportunities, etc. However, each of us must respect the time and effort of the others in the group.  If you must be absent, you must notify Jim directly by email or telephone at least 24 hours before the event.  This includes rehearsals. Advance notice enables something to be done to ensure a good experience for the rest of the choir. If you only call the day of, or fail to call at all, you are wasting the time of both the director and the other members of the group.
Please respect your choir – communicate about your attendance ahead of time. 24 hours is the minimum in order for the information to be useful. Thank you for your cooperation.

Directors/Personnel:  The parish music director is Jim Lake.  The choir director is Evelyn Troester DeGraf.  Jim handles music selection, scheduling, accompanying, arranging, and communications (including this website).  Evi directs the choir’s rehearsals and the vocal ensemble during liturgy.  Music during liturgy is a collaboration among all the music ministers – organist, conductor, choir, and instrumentalists – with the goal of helping the whole assembly to sing their prayers and praise.

Children’s Choir

How to Sign-up for Choir…

Please sign-up your children by sending an email to choir directors Evelyn & Jim at – be sure to tell us:

  1. your child’s name & age
  2. your name and your contact info
  3. any necessary allergy/medical info we might need to know
  4. whether you’d like to volunteer to help with choir events


Click here to view the Children’s Choir schedule.

About the Children’s Choirs…

There are TWO Choral Ensembles for children at Sacred Hearts:

  • Youth Choir: For ages 10-18, this selective group of engaged and interested young singers focuses on advanced music-making, singing in harmony, singing solos in performances, learning vocal technique & musical expression, and taking on leadership roles for their younger colleagues in the children’s choir. Audition required. Meets Wednesdays 5pm-6:30pm.
  • Children’s Choir: For the youngest voices in our parish and beyond, there is the beloved SHSS Children’s Choir. Girls and boys, age 7-12, learn the joy of singing in a group and making great music together through both playful and performance-based experiences. Meets Wednesdays 5:45pm-6:30pm.

The Choirs are open to all children aged 7-18, regardless of religious affiliation.  The repertoire includes a mix of secular and sacred repertoire.  The primary aim is to foster a love for singing and a positive experience of making music; many genres are included.

The Choirs sing primarily for church services, but also for community parties and celebrations. As our repertoire builds, we will be moving towards the goal of singing concerts in the future.

Why Join the Children’s Choirs?

It’s FUN! – we sing together – in harmony – lots of fun songs and games, and learn to use our voices. Singing together creates a bond of friendship through music!
It’s ART! – we learn to express emotions through music, and to master vocal technique!
It’s INSPIRING! – our Choir Directors – Evi and Jim – are enthusiastic, caring people who inspire us to find joy in music!
It’s HEALTHY! – vocal training engages the whole body and mind, and improves awareness & control of posture and breathing.
It’s on WEDNESDAYS at Sacred Hearts & St Stephen Church, at the corner of Hicks & Summit Streets. ONGOING RIGHT NOW – JOIN US SOON!
Register now! Tell your friends!
Please share this with others in the neighborhood!
Sacred Hearts Children’s Choir promises to be a wonderful experience for all!
(Located in Carroll Gardens, near Cobble Hill, Gowanus & Red Hook, BROOKLYN)

Choir Policies


  • We totally understand that sometimes things come up!
  • We actively encourage each child to take responsibility for his or her role in the choir, but there’s also a sense of flexibility, especially for family plans around the holidays.
  • We ask that you keep us informed in advance whenever there is a scheduling conflict, so that we may plan for it.
  • As much as possible, encourage your young choristers to take their attendance seriously. Each choir is a team: its members need each other’s support and presence as regularly as possible.

A Few Necessary Items:

  • the parish provides binders for choristers
  • performance dress is usually a white top and black bottom (pants or skirt).

Parental Involvement

The parents can do much to help strengthen the choir program:

  • Encourage your child AND the other children too – let them all know that it’s a joy to hear them singing! Parental encouragement provides the confidence and enthusiasm that kids need in order to do well.
  • Spread the word! Encourage your child to bring friends to join the choir. Choir is always more fun when there are lots of kids singing together. Talk to other parents, too… this is a good-quality, free program their kids will enjoy.
  • Be present (when possible).  Certainly try to attend your child’s performances. Your presence at rehearsals is also greatly appreciated!
  • Set a great example.  Kids can see whether you are sincerely interested in their performance, or whether you’re distracted by technology.  Your presence and respectful attentiveness are SO much more important than photos, videos or recordings.  Video should never be used during church services, and even photos should be kept to a minimum.  At other performances, be respectful of the people around you, and remember that cameras (and smartphones & tablets) can be a significant distraction.  At rehearsals, ALL guests – young and old – should keep silent, so the choristers can hear every detail of their music-making and the director’s instruction.
  • Parents are needed to help coordinate food, drinks & decor at the end-of-year party.
  • Would YOU like to sing, too? Parents are invited to make music by joining the parish’s Adult Choir. Talk with Evi or Jim about this; your kids will be very impressed!

About the Directors:

The Choirs at Sacred Hearts are blessed to have TWO wonderful directors:

Evelyn Troester DeGraf, Director of Choirs & Assistant Organist
– Evelyn Troester DeGraf is an internationally accomplished musical director, choral conductor, and music educator. Originally from Germany, Evelyn received her Masters degree with a dual concentration in performance and music education at the renowned University of Music and Performing Arts in Munich in 2005. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate and Teaching Assistant at Columbia University’s prestigious Teachers College. Mrs. DeGraf’s focus on pedagogy and psychology has led her to develop teacher training workshops on creativity development and leadership, the subject of which she was invited to lecture at The ECONOMIST Human Potential Conference in New York. An enthusiastic teacher, Evelyn has taught piano and voice for over a decade to all ages, and especially enjoys offering choral and jazz improvisation classes.As a well-travelled, versatile musician, Evelyn finds herself equally at ease singing Strauss, Kurtág, de Falla, or Thelonious Monk. She recently conducted choirs for several US performances with rock legends The Rolling Stones. Throughout her singing career, Mrs. DeGraf has had the opportunity to work with master artists such as James Levine, Guiseppe Sinopoli, Candace Goetz, and Rhiannon. Evelyn is the founder and music director of the acclaimed professional a-capella choral group, Ghostlight Chorus. She is also an accomplished pianist, guitarist, and has studied organ with Andrew Henderson and Jim Lake. Evelyn performs regularly as cantor, organist, and choral director at Sacred Hearts and St. Stephen Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn.Evelyn, or “Evi,” as she is known to her friends, is a lover of the written word, Yoga, the outdoors, and all things food-related. She marvels at the people that the arts have brought into her life and the invaluable gifts she receives from making music.
James Lake, Parish Organist & Director of Music
– Jim has been the organist and music director at Sacred Hearts & St Stephen since 2003. He earned his Master of Music degree as a scholarship student at Manhattan School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music at Rice University’s prestigious Shepherd School of Music. Jim’s continuing organ studies were at the Cathedral-Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, NJ, and at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan. A frequent performer with symphony orchestras, Jim has performed at all of New York City’s major concert venues, including Carnegie & Avery Fisher Halls, the Metropolitan Opera, and Madison Square Garden. As a recording artist, Jim has performed for television and radio, and was heard on Broadway in the soundtrack to Lincoln Center’s Tony-Award-winning production of War Horse.As a music teacher, Jim is known for his ability to recognize the unique perspective of each student’s own understanding, and his use of that perspective as an avenue to developing each individual’s sense of music.