Saint John's Episcopal Church is blessed with a rich music tradition dating back to the years when the congregation was still housed in the wood frame church at Semmes and Spottswood. Mrs. Forest McGinley held the responsibilities of organist & choirmaster for sixteen years beginning in 1930. Near the time of the construction of the current church building on Central and Greer, Saint John’s secured the services of Fergus O’Connor, a faculty member at the College of Music at Southwestern (now Rhodes College) who had previously been organist for Queen’s College in Oxford, England. Mr. O’Connor organized and directed a Boys’ Choir at Saint John’s in 1947 which sang for Sunday Services and even undertook a tour to England. The original Moeller pipe organ was installed in the new church in 1949, a gift to the parish by the Humphreys family.
In 1950 the church called Mr. Richard T. White as organist & choirmaster. Mr. White served with distinction for thirty-six years, maintaining high-quality adult and children’s choirs and overseeing an expansion of the organ in 1971. Mr. John P. Ayer came to Saint John’s in 1986 and served as organist and choirmaster for seventeen years. He was the founding director of the Memphis Boychoir and the Memphis Chamber Choir, both resident at Saint John’s. These two civic choirs have gained an international reputation for excellence and have recorded numerous CDs. Learn more about the boychoir and hear selections from their work at Memphis BoyChoir In 1990 the organ was rebuilt and further enlarged by the Reuter organ company. As it exists today, the organ boasts forty ranks distributed across three manual divisions plus pedal.
Dr. Geoffrey Harris Ward commenced duties as Choirmaster and Organist at Saint John's in July, 2006. During his tenure, he expanded the boychoir and initiated the Memphis Girlchoir in 2011. The choirs continued to tour nationally, including services at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. and celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Memphis Boychoir in June 2013. After 10 years at Saint John's, Dr. Ward left to join the faculty of The University of the South and lead All Saint's Chapel.