Mary Katherine Kilgore
Director of Music Ministries
and Music Director of St. James School
St. James has two choirs under the direction of our Director of Music Ministries, Mary Katherine Kilgore: Adult Choir and Canterbury Choir. The Adult choir sings each Sunday throughout the year for the 10:30am worship service. They also prepare special music for Advent, Christmas Eve, Epiphany, Easter and occasionally an Evensong Service. Mary Katherine also oversees the St. James Concert Series with organist Helen Rodgers, and teaches music classes for all the students in our school here at St. James.
A native of Forsyth, Georgia, Mary Katherine received her Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance from Valdosta State University with post graduate studies in voice, opera, and choral conducting at Clayton College and State University in Morrow, Georgia, and the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Mary Katherine, a talented and accomplished musician, taught piano and voice privately for over 20 years, and has judged numerous piano, vocal, and choral competitions. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Alabama Chapter of the American Choral Director’s Association between 2014 and 2019. Mary Katherine served as Director of Music for both Fairhope United Methodist and Trinity Presbyterian churches and taught chorus full time at St. Michael Catholic High School during the 2019 - 2021 school years. Prior to moving to the Eastern Shore, she served as Director of Music at Vernon United Methodist Church in Vernon, Alabama and St. Mark United Methodist Church in Northport, Alabama.
Mary Katherine is involved musically in the Eastern Shore community by serving as the Music Director for productions with Eastern Shore Repertory Theater as well as being the Executive Director of the Eastern Shore Choral Society. Mary Katherine was the Artistic Director of the ESCS from 2011 - 2023. The ESCS is a non-auditioned community chorus made up of individuals with varying degrees of musical skill from high school age to the young at heart. In recent years, the ESCS has been invited to sing with other music groups, such as the Mobile Symphony Orchestra and the Baldwin Pops. In June 2018, twenty-seven members of the ESCS had the honor of traveling to New York City to perform Dan Forrest’s amazing Jubilate Deo at Carnegie Hall with choral groups from across the country. In June 2023, twenty-one ladies from ESCS toured in Italy and sang at the Duomo in Orvieto, St. Ignatius in Rome, and for mass at St. Peter's Basilica.
Mary Katherine and her family have lived in Fairhope since 2005.
Helen V.A. Rodgers
Helen Van Abbema Rodgers is the Organist at St. James and former Director of Music Ministries. In addition to being St. James' organist on Sunday mornings, she co-administers the St. James Concert Series each year and conducts the Men's Compline Choir.
In 1994, Helen coordinated the project to move the 1896, 14 rank Hook and Hastings organ to the Chapel of St. James from the church’s previous location. In 1996, she negotiated the purchase of a 1968, 63 rank Schlicker, Heissler organ from a church in Lincoln, Nebraska. In January of 1998, she played the Inaugural Concert on this organ to a capacity audience.
Helen has held two terms as Dean of the Mobile Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. She has studied at Calvin College, the University of Georgia, and Westminster Choir College. In the Summer of 2002, while on sabbatical, she studied with Marie-Louise Langlais at St. Clotilde in Paris and Naji Hakim at La Trinité, Paris. She also played in concerts at Holy Trinity, Sloane Square, London and Saint-Roch, Paris. In the summer of 2005, she played organs in East Germany. The highlights of this trip were to play Franz Liszt’s favorite organ in Merseburg and two stunning, carefully restored instruments that Bach played, in particular the Hildebrandt organ in Naumberg.