Today's guest is a talented young American organist, Christopher Henley. He is native of Talladega, Alabama and serves as the organist of Anniston First United Methodist Church, where he provides service music for the 8:30 and 10:30 traditional worship services, manages the Soli Deo Gloria Concert Series, and accompanies various vocal and instrumental ensembles.
Prior to his service at Anniston First, he served as the organist of the First United Methodist Church in Talladega and Pell City, Alabama. He is the founder and artistic director of The Noble Camerata, an auditioned vocal ensemble, that sings choral services in the Anniston, Alabama area and seasonal concerts. In addition to his church responsibilities, he serves on the faculty of the Community Music School of the University of Alabama, where is an instructor of piano.
In March 2017, Christopher was named a member of the Class of 2017 “20 Under 30” by The Diapason magazine, an international journal of organ music, for his leadership in the field of organ and choral music. Mr. Henley is currently a senior in pursuit of the Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance at The University of Alabama where he studies with Dr. Faythe Freese.
His piano teachers have included Mrs. Pamela Thomson, Dr. Edisher Savitski, and Dr. Tayna Gille. He is also a member of the Early Chamber Music Ensemble where he plays harpsichords for various groups. As a collaborative artist, he has joined with clarinetist, Michael Abrams, to form Basilica Duo: a duo performing works for clarinet and organ.
He has accompanied various choirs, including the University Singers of The University of Alabama, the Jacksonville State University A cappella choir, and Talladega College Choir. He has also performed with the Alabama Symphonic Band and the Jacksonville State University Trombone Ensemble.
Active as a performer, Mr. Henley has performed across the United States as a soloist. Recent performances have taken him to Saint Thomas, Fifth Avenue in New York City; First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska; Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, Illinois; and St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Berkeley, California.
Upcoming performances include appearances in Atlanta, Georgia; Ashland, Alabama; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; Washington, D.C.; New York, New York; Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Portland, Oregon.
As a competitor, he received first prize in the 2013 University of Alabama Organ Scholarship Competition, the 2013 Minnie McNeil Carr Organ Scholarship Competition, and the 2012 Clarence Dickenson Organ Festival (Beginner). In 2015, he was a finalist for the Southeast Regional Competition for Young Organists for the American Guild of Organists in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Mr. Henley is an active member of the American Guild of Organists and The University of Alabama Music Teachers National Association. In the AGO, he was appointed as a member of the executive board for the AGO Young Organists initiative for the Southeast Region. He also serves as the student affairs coordinator of the Birmingham Chapter. For MTNA, he has served the collegiate chapter of UA in the capacity of secretary.
In this conversation Christopher shares his insights about his organ playing experiences as well as about the audience's aspect in creating art, responding to criticism, finding dialogue between fellow musicians and sharing your work with the world.
We also talked about the value of blogging for organists.
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