Music has always held an important place in the services of the Episcopal Church in general and at St. Andrew’s in particular. At St. Andrew’s, our desire is that music be an agent of peace, calm, and transformation. Within such a beautiful space as the church, the sound of the organ resonates with heart and voice to create space for rest and calm, joyful exuberance and celebration, and at times, turbulent and anguished prayers – a full range of emotions and conversations with God.
Since the installation of the original pipe organ in 1930, St. Andrew’s has had a choir led by an organist-choirmaster. Helen Bellman served with distinction for 35 years, from 1931 to 1966. During the three decades of her leadership, the choir typically numbered about 20 singers. When Mrs. Bellman retired in 1966, several musicians, including Margaret Morgan, Debbie Gude, Dan Harmon, and Frederick Brown, held the position over the subsequent fifteen years. In 1981, Mark Conrad assumed the duties of organist and choirmaster. Under his leadership, the choir sang for Evensong at the Washington National Cathedral and served as the choir in residence at Westminster Abbey in London for a week in 1985. In 1987, Fredrick Bahr became the organist and choirmaster. Mr. Bahr, who was also employed by the Lewis & Hitchcock Organ Company, was instrumental in securing and installing the present organ. It was dedicated in September of 1990 as part of the church’s centennial celebration. Jayne Traynor Rose succeeded Mr. Bahr. Following Ms. Rose’s tenure, Dr. Dale Krider arrived at St. Andrew’s to serve as organist and choirmaster. Dr. Dale Krider enjoyed a long and distinguished ministry at St. Andrew’s from 2000 until his retirement in the summer of 2015. During his tenure, in 2005, a major gift was presented to St. Andrew’s by Lawrence C. Miller. Given to the glory of God and in loving memory of Henriette Marie Miller, the gift was designated for new digital voices in the organ and a new console. In the spring of 2016, renovation work was done on the organ that included releathering and refitting the stoppers on the wooden flute pipes, regulating and revoicing some of the metal façade pipes and digital voices, and the addition of a piston sequencer to the combination action. This work was completed using funding from the St. Andrew’s Bellman Fund.
Our current organist and choirmaster, David Houston, assumed the position in 2016, following Dr. Krider’s retirement. Mr. Houston has greatly strengthened the music program at St. Andrew’s. Under his expert leadership, membership in the adult choir continues to grow, and he has been instrumental in nurturing partnerships with such organizations as the University of Maryland School of Music, the National Orchestral Institute, and the Rockville Brass Band.
The organ voluntary ‘Prelude on Malabar’ by Leo Sowerby, based on the hymn tune ‘Malabar’ from The Hymnal 1982, number 312. Recorded at St. Andrew’s in June of 2020, organist David K. Houston.
Sweet Hour of Prayer was arranged by William Bolcom, part of the series of Twelve Gospel Preludes. Recorded at St. Andrews in April of 2020, organist David K. Houston.