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). 

 

ORGANISTS:    

1930 – 1956     Mary Highland Bell

1956 – 1994        Louise Kiracole

1995 – 1996        Larry Correll

1996 – 2015        Andra Borrell

2016 – 2019        Frank Kennerly

2019 – Present    Otto Pebworth

Present    Brandon Heishman

Present    Joshua Goines

Present    Mun Fei Chor

 

The organ pipes were enclosed to support the choir loft when the church was remodeled in 1955.

 

CHOIR DIRECTORS:

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

John Dull

 

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 Charlottesville Symphony 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 performance.

 

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 fearlesscowardinfo@gmail.com or call the church and leave a message with the church office (540) 886-0704.