W. GENE COBURN, DIRECTOR OF MUSIC
Our Director of Music is W. Gene Coburn. Gene came to Woodside in September of 2012. He leads both the Chancel Choir and the Women's Folk Choir here.
Gene is a proud Grand Blanc native and graduate and began his conducting artistry in church in 1975, having initially served as Director of Music at Grand Blanc United Methodist Church. Leaving there in 1983, he took the position of Director of Music at Central United Methodist until 1990. While at both churches, Gene directed vocal, instrumental, and hand bell choirs, and developed a concert series Celebrations in Sound that lasted until his departure. After taking a short break, he served First Presbyterian Church of Fenton until 1993. From there, Gene went on to serve Community Presbyterian Church of Flint, Central United Methodist Church and Grand Blanc United Methodist through September, 2000. At that point, Gene was appointed Director of Music at St. Christopher's Episcopal Church of Grand Blanc, where he guided four vocal choirs, youth hand bell choir, and instrumental ensembles. In 2002, he accepted an invitation to serve as Director of Music at First Congregational UCC in Grand Blanc, developing a comprehensive core music program which included three vocal choirs, two hand bell choirs and an instrumental ensemble. While there he also supervised the sanctuary renovation in 2009.
In addition to Gene's active involvement in church music, he is the founding artistic director of New Century Chorale and served in that capacity from 1994-2007. He also directed the U of M-Flint Alumni Choir, Carriage Towne Chorus of Sweet Adelines and the Flint Community Church Hand Bell Choir. He has been a consultant and clinician at numerous church choral and hand bell festivals and workshops throughout the Midwest, and also coaches local school choral groups. HE is a past Board Member of the American Guild of English Hand Bell Ringers, and past Dean of the Flint Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Additionally, he has regularly performed with the Carolyn Mawby Chorale, St. Paul's Episcopal Church Chamber Singers in downtown Flint, Flint Male Chorus, and was a founding member of the Flint Arts Chorale.
Theater work is also a part of Gene's background, which includes musical direction for several productions with Fenton Village Players and New Vic Dinner Theater. Recently, he was musical director for the UM-F production of the musical "Zombies from the Beyond".
Gene is a First Vice President, Corporate Learning and Development Manager for Citizens Bank and has directed the Citizens Bank Mixed Chorus in the annual Holiday Sing for over 30 years. He resides in Grand Blanc and has two children, Michael, who is a mechanical engineer for Attwood Marine, married and living in East Grand Rapids, and Amanda, who is married, a Personal Banker at Citizens Bank, and working on a Human Resource and Business degree and lives in Grand Blanc. Gene also has a new addition to the family - Max, the first grandchild. Both Michael and Amanda have been active in numerous musical groups in church and school.
When not in a meeting at work or a rehearsal, Gene enjoys a work-out at UM-Flint Rec Center, attending theater, a meal at Lucas Steakhouse, and yard work. He also has taken up the sport of Race Walking, having participated in nine Crim 8K Race Walks. Gene and his partner Bob also spend considerable time at their condo in Saugatuck-Douglas, Michigan.
RICHARD D. NEWMAN, ORGANIST/ACCOMPANIST
Richard D. Newman has several years of experience in the field as an organist, accompanist, choir director, and music program director. He worked in the early 1980's as organist/pianist for the First Baptist Church in Mt. Morris and has worked for forty years as organist and vocal soloist at First Church of Christ Scientist in Flint. Richard served as accompanist and director for youth choirs at First Presbyterian Church in Flint for several years. For thirteen years Richard served as organist/choir director for the Oak Park United Methodist Church in Flint and most recently retired as Music Director of Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Burton after twelve years of service.
Richard has studied music, directing, and vocal at Flint Junior College and then at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey. He completed studies in organ/piano performance under William T. Rennecker at First Presbyterian Church in Flint, as well as instruction under Jeffrey L. Walker, G. Donald Kaye, and Donald Button.