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‘The Stones Will Sing’ at Oct. 11 Organ Concert at St. Mary of the Hills in Blowing Rock

A “Summer of Recitals” comes to a close this Sunday, October 11th at 3 pm at St. Mary of the Hills Episcopal Church in Blowing Rock with a concert given by noted organist Dr. Joseph Causby on St. Mary’s magnificent Lively-Fulcher organ.  The instrument was designed specifically for the acoustic and style of music at the historic church, and was completed and dedicated a year ago, following the complete renovation and restoration of the church nave in a project aptly named “The Stones Will Sing”.  This concert is the culmination of that project.SMOH summer

Dr. Causby has chosen a stunning program for the afternoon – Crown Imperial: A Coronation March by Sir William Walton, Handel’s Organ Concerto in B-flat major, Sonata I by Paul Hindemith, Hear ye Israel (from Elijah) by Felix Mendelssohn with  soprano soloist Amanda Horton, the Rhapsody in D-flat major, Opus 17 by Herbert Howells, and Final from Vierne’s Symphonie No. 1.

Causby is Director of Music and Organist at historic St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio, Texas.  He has traveled to Durham, U.K. twice as the organist with the choir of St.Mary of the Hills during two of their residencies at the Cathedral there, and was the first American organ scholar at Durham Cathedral in 2008-2009.  He holds a BMus in organ performance and sacred music from Appalachian State University, an MMus in organ performance from Rice University, and a PhD from the University of Durham (England) under the supervision of leading British scholar, Professor Jeremy Dibble.  More recently, he studied with Dame Gillian Weir and Wilma Jensen.

This summer’s recital series has brought several gifted musicians to St. Mary’s.  This celebratory concert is the culmination, not just of that series, but of the four-year project called “The Stones Will Sing”.  The project strengthened the structure of the nearly 100-year-old church, made it significantly more energy-efficient (to give it a smaller environmental footprint), and improved the acoustic in the church to welcome a new organ designed specifically for that improved space.  It was made possible by the significant gift of an anonymous couple, and supported by the generous participation of the entire congregation.  This concert is the official celebration of that historic project, and recognizes the help of everyone who made the project possible.  However, the Rector of the church, the Rev. Rick Lawler, points out that this concert is actually the beginning of St. Mary’s increasing efforts to “reach out to the larger community in offering and service and, above all, to ‘praise God from whom all blessings flow’.”

The organ was designed and built by Lively-Fulcher organ builders of Rocky Mount, Virginia and presented a unique challenge to provide the versatility of a cathedral organ in a small, intimate worship space.  It consists of 24 ranks, 22 stops, and over 1500 pipes, plus a chimes gallery, to support not only the breadth and variety of French, English and German organ literature, but also the warmth and color needed to support vibrant hymn singing and choral accompaniment.

The concert will begin at 3:00 pm on Sunday October 11th in the nave of the church.  St. Mary of the Hills is on the corner of Main Street and Chestnut in downtown Blowing Rock.  For more information, please call the church at (828) 295-7323.