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Music Ministries

choir taking communion
Mary Katherine Kilgore

MARY KATHERINE KILGORE

DIRECTOR OF MUSIC MINISTRIES

& MUSIC DIRECTOR OF ST. JAMES SHOOL

St. James has three choirs under the direction of our Director of Music Ministries, Mary Katherine Kilgore: Adult Choir, Canterbury Choir, and the Handbell Choir.

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.  She has spent the past two years teaching chorus full time at St. Michael Catholic High School.  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.

In addition to being an outstanding musician and teacher, she excels as a conductor and will begin her 10th season as the Artistic Director of the Eastern Shore Choral Society this fall.  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 choruses, such as the Mobile Symphony Orchestra. They also performed at Carnegie Hall in New York City. 

Mary Katherine is excited to return to full time music ministry.  She is serving alongside Helen Rodgers at the church, and is teaching music to the students at the St. James Episcopal School. Mary Katherine has been a resident of Fairhope since 2005.  She and her husband Rodney have one daughter, Emily, who will be graduating from high school in the spring of 2022.

Helen Rodgers Director of Music Ministries

HELEN V.A. RODGERS

ORGANIST

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.