AGO Convocation: A Light to Lighten the Nations

Members and friends of the Grand Strand Chapter gathered at the Church of the Resurrection, Surfside Beach on January 15 for a winter convocation and choral festival.  The theme of the service, which took place on the second Sunday after the Epiphany, was “A Light to Lighten the Nations.”

The Trinity Choir sings at the convocation

Participating choirs included:

Surfside United Methodist Church
Glynis Hopkins – Director; Sherri Boschen – Accompanist

Church of the Resurrection, Surfside Beach
Karen Kearney, Organist & Choirmaster

St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Dr. Robert Baxter – Director; Olivia Huggins – Accompanist

Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach
Mark Chaney – Organist and Choirmaster

A brass ensemble provided prelude and postlude music, and the service waqs brilliantly played by host organist Karen Kearney.

Dr. Larry Cook, dean of the Wilmington Chapter AGO, addresses the convocation

One of the highlights of the afternoon was surely the keynote address from Dr. Larry Cook, Organist and Choirmaster of St. Paul’s Epsicopal Church, Wilmington, NC, and dean of the Wilmington Chapter AGO.  His remarks were a reflection on the theme of the convovation, “A Light to Lighten the Nations,” a phrase from the Nunc dimittis in Luke 2.  Here is an excerpt:

“I like Martin Luther’s paraphrase of the Nunc dimittis, the German hymn “Mit Fried und Freud ich fahr dahin” – “In peace and joy I now depart.”   “Peace” and “Joy” seem to be two of the essential elements of this Light that is capable of lightening the nations.  Now as leaders in the worship of this Light—and that is what church organists, choir directors, and choir members are—we have de facto assumed the responsibility of engaging in this “Lighting” or “Enlightening” endeavor.   There can be no doubt that music has an integral part to play:  few areas of human experience so completely involve the heart and the intellect so fully and compellingly as music can.   St. Augustine is supposed to have said [“bis orat qui bene cantat…] “he who sings well prays twice.”   And that often-omitted word “well” has to concern us…

“As reflectors of the Light to enlighten the Nations, we need to remove our reflective tarnish, working constantly to improve our skills and attitudes.  What kind of light are we reflecting?  Are we diligent is searching out and selecting music of the highest quality, or are we content to fritter away our time and energy with immediately appealing, but ultimately insubstantial, flashes of second rate stuff?   The story is told that Handel, after conducting a performance of Messiah, was approached by Lord Kinnoul who praised Handel, remarking how entertaining it was, Handel replied, “My Lord, I should be sorry if I only entertained them; I wished to make them better.”  Without getting too self-important about it, we should also feel this awesome responsibility.”

Read Dr. Cook’s entire remarks here.

Download the printed program of the convocation here;
more pictures from the afternoon’s proceedings here.

American Guild of Organists Event This Weekend

Grand Strand Chapter
of the American Guild of Organists (AGO)
Winter Convocation

“A Light to Lighten the Nations”

Sunday, January 15, 4:00 p. m.
Church of the Resurrection, Surfside Beach  (Hwy 17 Bypass)

Keynote Speaker:
Dr. Larry Cook, Dean of the Wilmington Chapter AGO

Karen Kearney, Resurrection, Surfside Beach

Participating Choirs:
Surfside United Methodist Church
Church of the Resurrection, Surfside Beach
St. Paul’s United Methodist Church
Trinity Church, Myrtle Beach

Free and open to the public, reception to follow. 
More information at the Grand Strand AGO website here.

Video from AGO Choir Festival

First United Methodist Church in Conway was the venue for a Choir Festival for Young Voices sponsored by the Grand Strand chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  The festival was the first of what is hoped will be an annual event.

Olivia Huggins leads a rehearsal of the Grand Strand American Guild of Organists Featival for Young Voices at First United Methodist Church, Conway. Margo Perl, of Trinity's St. Cecilia Choir, is front and center.

AGO Chapter members joined nearly twenty area middle school, high school, and college students to make up the choir for the weekend-long event.  The choir trainer for the weekend was Olivia Huggins, conductor of the Beach Singers, a children’s community chorus based in Pawley’s Island.  The festival concluded with a choral Evensong on the afternoon of September 18 at which Rob Sturdy preached the homily.  An excellent recital by host organist and chapter dean Billy Fallaw preceded the service.

Some video excperts from the Evensong (kudos to chapter communications office Jon Blamire) have been uploaded to the Grand Strand AGO chapter website.  Click here to see and hear.

American Guild of Organists Recital This Weekend

Organ Recital – Karen Kearney
Sunday 1 May, 2011 – 4pm
St Paul’s Episcopal Church, 710 Main Street, Conway, SC 29526

The May Chapter meeting will feature an Organ Concert by Karen Kearney, Organist and Choirmaster at the Church of the Resurrection in Surfside Beach, Sunday. Pieces have been chosen with the seasons of the church year in mind; therefore Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter and a final work to finish. This concert is free and open to the public.



Toccata on Veni Emmanuel
Andrew Carter
Louis-Claude Daquin
Wie Schon Leuchtet der Morgenstern
Dietrich Buxtehude
O Mensch, bewein dein Sunde Gross
Ernst Pepping
Cortege et Litanie
Marcel Dupre
William Mathias
Preludium und Fuge uber das Thema B-A-C-H
Franz Liszt

A New Chapter of the American Guild of Organists

Some organists and choir directors in the area have gotten together to form a local chapter of the American Guild of Organists.  The AGO is a national organization whose purpose is to “promote the organ, to encourage excellence in the performance of organ and choral music, and to provide a forum for mutual support, inspiration, and education.” Previously, the nearest AGO chapters were in Wilmington and Charleston; but now we have the newly chartered Grand Strand Chapter, with members from Myrtle Beach, Surfside, Conway, and Georgetown.  I have already enjoyed getting to know some of my colleagues both within the diocese and from other denominations. 

I mention this here because Trinity had the distinction of hosting the very first meeting of the Grand Strand Chapter this past Friday, the 1st.  There were about 25 members and friends present; we shared a meal together and then went upstairs to sing some anthems that had been brought by various members.  If you have a minute, please check out some pictures of the event here.

In addition, the chapter’s website ( has a listing of musical events in area churches.  You might find useful in that there, all in one place, is information on all different kinds of concerts and services up and down the Grand Strand, almost all of which are free.  Click on the “Events and Concerts” link on the homepage.