Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Summertime with the King of Instruments

Every summer, when many of Charlotte's musical operations go on vacation, the local chapter of the American Guild of Organists helps save us from a musical drought. 

From June through August, members of the group and  guests perform a free concert each Sunday night. This year's series begins Sunday with a recital by Kevin Neel, a Fort Mill native who graduated from Indiana University's School of Music. 

The series lets music lovers sample some of the most powerful musical instruments in the area, from the venerable ones at Covenant Presbyterian and Myers Park Baptist to the 2006  instrument at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church (photo by Diedra Laird). The instrument Neel will play Sunday, at Unity Presbyterian Church in Fort Mill, was built in 1936 by one of the most prestigious makers of the day, E.M. Skinner. Its original home was a church in Salisbury. 

A handful of guest musicians, including Charlotte Symphony members, will pitch in occasionally. There will also be an Anglican Evensong service and a choral concert. Here's the schedule: 

June 3: Kevin Neel. Unity Presbyterian Church, 303 Tom Hall St., Fort Mill. Neel, a Fort Mill native, is organist at First Christian Church in Bloomington, Ind. 

June 10: Patrick Pope with Hollis Ulaky, oboe; Laurel Talley, violin; Amy Orsinger Whitehead, Flute; and Tadd Hoffman, trumpet. Holy Comforter Episcopal Church, 2701 Park Road. Pope is the church's organist and director of music.  

June 17: Matthew Noonan. Central United Methodist Church, 801 S. Hayne St., Monroe. Music by J.S. Bach. 

June 24: Patrick Scott. Myers Park United Methodist Church, 1501 Queens Road. Scott is the church's organist. 

July 1: Audrey McConnell. South Mecklenburg Presbyterian Church, 8601 Bryant Farms Road, Charlotte. McConnell is the church's organist. 

July 8 at 4 p.m.: Royal School of Church Music Evensong. Myers Park Baptist Church, 1900 Queens Road. 

July 15: Student recital featuring winners of the Stigall Organ Scholarship. St. John's Baptist Church, 300 Hawthorne Lane. 

July 22: Timothy Belk. Convenant Presbyterian Church, 1000 E. Morehead St. Belk is the organist of First Presbyterian Church, Gastonia. Works by Guilmant, Elgar, Shearing and others. 

July 29: Timothy Smith. Purity Presbyterian Church, 135 Wylie St., Chester. Smith is parish musician at Christ Episcopal Church, Lancaster, S.C. 

Aug. 5: Nathaniel Gumbs. Myers Park Baptist Church. Gumbs is organist of Friendship Missionary Baptist Church. 

Aug. 12: Adam Ward, with violist Martha Geisler. Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, 3400 Beatties Ford Road. Ward is organist of Providence United Methodist Church. 

Aug. 19: Lester Ackerman, organist. St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 1001 Queens Road. Ackerman is the church's organist. 

Aug. 26: Choirs of Covenant Presbyterian Church and Myers Park United Methodist Church, with organ, brass and percussion. Covenant Presbyterian Church.