Music at RCPC
By Glenna Fisher
The theme that ties all of RCPC’s music programs together is the central role of music in our Presbyterian reformed worship tradition. From the organ prelude to the hymn selection to support the message of each service and sung by the congregation, to the special music provided by various individuals and groups, to the triumphant organ postlude, the mystery and majesty of God is proclaimed.
Linda Mayes was organist and music director for 27 years – 1985 to 2013. Linda resigned in January 2013 and moved to Alabama to be near her son and his family. In February 2013, Deanne Vance graciously stepped in as interim to play the organ and direct the adult choir.
Joel Haywood was hired in June 2013 as organist and choir director. Joel resigned in February 2016. Deanne again agreed to act as the interim musician through July 2016. Mitch Weisiger was hired in August 2016 as Director of Music and Organist (see short bio at the end of this section). Abby French was hired in September 2017 to direct the Children’s Choirs.
Raleigh Court Presbyterian Church has an Adult (Sanctuary) Choir, a Youth Choir, two Children’s Choirs and a Handbell Choir. They rehearse weekly during the school year to provide anthems and special music on a rotating basis for worship each Sunday. Special music is prepared by these choirs, and individuals, for special seasons of the church year, such as Christmas and Easter. All this is occasionally augmented by smaller groups and individuals, both vocal and instrumental.
The music program has benefitted through gifts to replace and supplement music equipment. This includes more octaves of handbells, choir chimes and pianos. But the most spectacular addition is our greatly enlarged organ. First implemented in 2004 by the gift of pipes and wind chests from Second Presbyterian Church’s organ, which was the same vintage as our original Moeller organ. The new organ was first played in worship December 5, 2010, dedicated on February 22, 2011, and the Inaugural Recital by Richard Cummins was on May 13, 2011.The specifics of this gift, the resulting work and final instrument may be seen in the Inaugural Recital Program, found in the church library.
The music directors of RCPC used talented individuals involved in music at RCPC to not only prepare music for worship and special days of the Christian year but enabled many musicians to use their talents to glorify God. These offerings ranged from oratorios (Handel’s “Messiah”) and major works such as Vivaldi’s “Gloria”, (accompanied by orchestra) to hymn festivals, children’s, and youth musicals and EVEN talent shows.
RCPC’s current Director of Music Ministries& Organist Mitchell R. Weisiger.
Mitchell R. Weisiger was born in Maryland but was reared in Richmond, Va. Prior to coming to RCPC, Mitch served Decatur First United Methodist for twelve years as the Organist and Associate Director of Music. While in Decatur he worked with other staff in the children, youth, and adult choir programs,
He is a graduate of Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J., receiving a Bachelor of Music degree with a concentration in sacred music and has earned the Colleague certificate (CAGO) from the American Guild of Organists.
Mitch started his journey at RCPC in August of 2016.
Role of the committees: Worship & Music Committee
Under the jurisdiction of Session, the Worship & Music Committee has the responsibility for the maintenance of divine worship. This includes many areas: acolytes, ushers, chancel guild, Lenten Booklet, music, special services, prelude speakers, and more as the need arises. The committee is large, and all are involved in various duties. Much of the work is not noticed, but vital, nonetheless, to the smooth functioning of our worship services.
Dedicated October 15, 2018
The piano in the chapel seemed to suffice, but when the organ was added, it was apparent that our worship had been greatly enriched. This is a digital organ produced by the Walker Technical Company in Zionsville, PA. This company is considered to be the technological leader in digital sound, just as they were the leader in pipe organ sound in the 20th century.
This new organ fits and fills the room perfectly with its three manuals (keyboards), pedal, and forty-two stops. It enhances worship services, funerals, and small gatherings as well as being perfect for recitals.
This instrument was given through private gifts to glorify Almighty God and expands the music during the time of year we have a 9:00 A.M. worship service.
By Dennis Fisher
Dedicated February 27, 2011
The Revered Dr. Allison and the Director of Music, Linda Mayes, agreed in 1985 that a new organ would greatly enhance worship in the sanctuary. Thus began a journey that culminated in a February 27, 2011 worship service that dedicated a new organ to the glory of God.
Second Presbyterian made a generous gift of 29 Ranks of Moller pipes and supporting equipment from their old organ while substantial financial support came from The Warren W. Hobbie Charitable Trust, the Francis Petty Estate, the RCPC Endowment Fund, and the Juanita W. Ruble Estate as well as many loving gifts from church members. Twenty-plus years later, we were on our way!
Session approved the project at its October, 2007 meeting, and Dennis Fisher was named Chair of the committee and Project Manager. He faithfully kept the congregation updated through his Organ Notes throughout the next four years. Although he called this the “opportunity of a lifetime,” he was quick to point out that many others contributed their time and talents, including committee members Joe Clark, Richard Bryant, Glenna Fisher, Tupper Garden, Brad Kennedy, Drew Kepley, Alan Long, Linda Mayes, Jon Stephenson, Deanne Vance, Hugh Wellons, Jaye Harvey Wellons, and Holt Woodbury. Some other behind-the-scenes yet important contributors were Connie Ferguson, Byron Yost, India Atkinson, Ben Bower, Craig Favor, Al Knighton, Linda Marshall, and Jane Harvey Sisson.
The organ had many skilled contractors and sub-contractors, including Hagerstown Organ Co, Eastern Organ Pipes, Organ Supply Industries, Trivo Company, Inc, and Walker Technical Co. Gauldin Construction Co and their team had to remove the existing organ grill, build steel platforms, paint, replace lighting, install wind-lines and tile and numerous other modifications to the sanctuary itself. The Victorine family had serviced pipe organs in the Roanoke Valley for more than 60 years, so we were in good hands as they completed the installation and the fine new instrument was “voiced” and tuned. In summary, the organ featured 115 Drawknobs, 73 Stops, 77 Ranks, and 4,760 total Pipes + Digital Notes. The building and technical aspects of the Grand Organ were quite complex, but the congregation was eager to push past all that and hear the final result!
The first public performance was December 5, 2010. The congregation was stunned with the magnificence of the processional hymn and burst into spontaneous applause! The Organ Committee felt as proud as new parents and were glad to share this exciting addition.
Juanita Ruble served as choir director from 1937 to 1965, and the organ was dedicated to her in remembrance of her encouragement to expand the organ and enhance RCPC’s music programs for all ages. Richard Cummins, organist, composer, teacher, and conductor was the honored Recital Organist at a dedication ceremony on Sunday, March 13, 2011.
The Great Organ continues to enhance worship, special services, recitals, and joyous music events. Musicians – and those who just know they enjoy what they hear – attest to its quality sound!