Sheila Martel joined UUCR as Acting Director of Religious Education in November, 2018.
Before coming to Reston, Lou was the music director and composer in residence at South Valley Unitarian Universalist Society in Salt Lake City for six years and at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Amado Arizona for five years.
Lou is a conductor, composer and performer. Her works include over 50 choral pieces, a symphony, a chamber opera, a symphony for band, various ensembles of chamber music, the CDs for solo piano Light in the Woods and Armchair Magician, a CD for voice, cello and piano Sonora Morning and a CD for cello and piano, Etienne’s Motorcycle.
In Salt Lake City Lou brought the two UU choirs together with a Mormon choir to perform Songs of the Earth, a cantata that she composed with lyricist Patty Willis. Performances were held at the Mormon Tabernacle and at the Parliament of World Religions in 2015.
In 2010 Lou composed the music for a theater piece by Patty Willis called Man From Magdalena, inspired by the true story of a migrant from Mexico who saved the life of an American boy in the Arizona desert. Proceeds from performances have been donated to KIVA.ORG for microloans to small business owners in Mexico and Central America to help promote local businesses and alleviate the suffering caused by migration. To date, performances have underwritten over $150,000 in loans to groups and individuals in those countries.
During the 24 years that Lou spent in Japan, she was commissioned to compose music for theater, a national award winning TV documentary and music for film. Her most challenging job was a commission by the city of Kanazawa to compose new music for Geisha musicians.
Her greatest artistic influences come from travels to the holy places of the world: visiting a synagogue in India, mosques in Damascus and China, Buddhist temples in Nepal and Korea, Coptic Christian churches in Egypt, Hindu temples in Bali, and also from fourteen years of listening to choruses of frogs and cicadas from the front porch of an old farmhouse in the mountains of western Japan followed by five years in the Sonoran Desert of Arizona.
Lou’s passions include travel, cooking, attending concerts and theater, and connecting her own work with social justice causes. Lou has enjoyed 35 years of life with her wife, Patty Willis. They live in Virginia with their dog Louie.