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  • David Acres

Full-time employment again. Huzzah!

Judith and I started singing at Old St Andrew’s Parish Church in Charleston during September 2015. We got to know many members of the congregation and the staff, settling in very quickly. In the early Summer of 2016 we had a short stint as staff singers at Grace Church Cathedral in downtown Charleston, which has a traditional Anglican music tradition - lots of Howells, Stanford, Tallis and Byrd!

In early September we received a ‘phone call from Father Marshall Huey, the Rector of Old St Andrew’s. He was calling to ask advice; the organist/choir director had handed his notice in that week, and was leaving the church at the beginning of October. We suggested that he either contacted the local organists association, or he might consider splitting the post and employing an organist and a separate choir master. We mulled over what further advice to offer and then, the ‘mist lifted’ and I realised that this was a great opportunity to put myself forward for consideration. I offered to run the choir and suggested that a new position for an organist was created. After two to three weeks of discussions Father Marshall offered me the position of Director of Music, to start on Monday 10th October. I was given my own office, and I started work at 8:30 that morning.

So began a wonderful journey of discovery! Judith became our soprano section leader, and also took on the mantle of Director of the Handbell Choir, which I was very happy to join and commence ringing in!

Over the past two and a half years plus I have loved every minute of working with the choir and clergy at this beautiful church. It is the oldest church south of Virginia and it is the 25th oldest church in the United States, having been consecrated in 1706. When I stated working here, the church would sing an anthem once or twice a month, and a psalm on Feast Days. Every Sunday we now sing an Introit anthem, the psalm for the day to an Anglican chant, an Offertory anthem and an anthem/motet at Communion. We sing music by Byrd, Dyson, Elgar, Fauré, Howells, Rutter, Stanford, Tallis and Vaughan Williams, to name but a few. We also sing many Spirituals and Gospel songs, together with a wide range of American composers including, William Billings and Hal Hopson. On Christmas Eve we sing four services between 2:00pm and midnight, and at Holy Week we sing five services, including Easter Day. Here’s a YouTube clip of the choir singing a few months ago at the Offertory.


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