1st Presbyterian Church of Staunton, VA has had a long and fruitful musical history from the 1817 deed of land acquired for construction, to the original simple church built in 1818.
Renovations to the choir loft were made in the late 1890s to accommodate a “new organ”.
The “new” organ featured in the sanctuary was added in early 1890s as part of a renovation project to accommodate a choir loft immediately before the arrival of Dr. Abel McIver Fraser, D.D. (who served as pastor of 1st Presbyterian for 36 and ½ years from 1893 – 1929) and who was also on the board of trustees at Augusta Female Seminary (later Mary Baldwin University).
1930 – 1956 Mary Highland Bell
1956 – 1994 Louise Kiracole
1995 – 1996 Larry Correll
1996 – 2015 Andra Borrell
Mun Fei Chor
2016 – 2019 Frank Kennerly
2019 – 2022 Otto Pebworth
The organ pipes were enclosed to support the choir loft when the church was remodeled in 1955.
1930 – 1931 Weldon Whitlock
1931 – 1933 Lyda Neebson
1933 – 1950 Mary Lou Bell
1946 – 1947 Ruth McNeil
1950 Gladys Parker Silling
1951 – 1952 Warren Sprouse
1952 – 1955 Paul B. Sanger, Jr.
1955 – 1963 James R. Dellert
1964 Anne Roddey
1964 – 1966 Beverley F. Beard
1967 – 1974 George W. Sargeant
1974 – 2016 Brian D. Holsopple
2016 – 2019 Frank Kennerly
2019 – Present Dr. Renee Huff
The Music Department at 1st Presbyterian Church shares the sanctuary with and hosts many musical concerts and performances for the community. Each summer our Potter building houses the illustrious Heifitz Institute (an elite summer music school for child prodigies around the world in String Instruments), and provides rehearsal / performance spaces for The Staunton Music Festival.
Mary Baldwin University Choirs and Ensembles, the Waynesboro Symphony Orchestra, and Staunton Choral Society perform here regularly.
In the 21st Century, our Music Department has a wide variety of instruments (several grand pianos, digital keyboards, full sets of handbells and chimes, marimbas, Orff instruments, percussion sets), and:
In 2020, during the SARS 2 COVID pandemic, the tired, old carpet was finally removed and the beautiful wooden floors revealed were refinished and restored. The ideal dynamic acoustics of the sanctuary is now coveted among musicians for live performances.
After the pandemic hit, our Sunday Service music began being live-streamed on the Internet via Facebook and YouTube with the addition of audio-visual technologies placed in the balcony of the sanctuary, thanks to Otto Pebworth, Dr. Huff, and Sam Clem.
“2020 was a real challenge for us,” says Music Director, Dr. Renee Huff, “none of us was experienced with live-streaming copyright requirements for the World Wide Web. So, we solved this problem by writing our own music – about 20 original Anthems and Introits from March to November of 2020! It was a real joint venture. I asked the congregation for poetry or lyrics and we went from there. What a creative bunch of folks we have here!”
2020 original music was specifically written for and performed during 1st Presbyterian’s Sunday Services by Dr. Renee Huff, Scott Wilson, Sam Clem, Carolyn Hoaster, Pastor Karen H. Allamon, and Shenandoah Valley Music Academy.
Original Poetry by Carolyn Hoaster, music written and performed by Dr. Huff for the May 19th, 2020 service during COVID lockdown.
Original Music and lyrics by Scott Wilson, music written and performed by Dr. Huff for June and July 2020 Services during COVID lockdown.
Original Lyrics by Sam Clem, music written and performed by Dr. Huff for 2020
Originals by Dr. Renee Huff for 2020 service
In October of 2020, a “Porch Choir” was established which allowed the members of the choir to sing individually into a 24 track digital Zoom mixer. Permission to stream music was obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-735647 (an online Copyright service company), and then we began streaming our mix-downs each Sunday.
Performed June 4th, 2021
SO COME JOIN US! If you love music and want to make a joyful noise to the Lord, you can contact Dr. Huff at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the church and leave a message with the church office: (540) 886-0704.