Music at Grace & Holy Trinity
Our church has a rich tradition of excellent music that ministers to the spiritual needs of parishioners and to the Richmond community. The music ministry includes choirs for children, youth, and adults.
The concert series draws hundreds of people each year for exquisite performances filled with glorious music.
Dr. Elizabeth Melcher Davis currently serves as Choirmaster & Organist and Stanley M. Baker currently serves as Assistant Choirmaster & Organist at Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Join One of Our Choirs
If you like to sing, please join one of our choirs! New members can join at any time; previous musical experience is not necessary. Contact Dr. Davis to join any choir.
Everyone is welcome to join the Parish Choir from youth in high school to any age. Rehearsals are held on Thursday evenings from 7:30-9:30 p.m. from September through May. The Parish Choir sings at the 10:30 a.m. worship services, Choral Evensongs, Christmas Lessons and Carols, and at other special worship services. The choir is a welcoming and caring community of faith that shares its musical gifts to the glory of God. The Parish Choir is directed by Dr. Elizabeth Melcher Davis, Choirmaster & Organist, and accompanied by Stanley M. Baker, Assistant Choirmaster & Organist.
The Children’s Choir is for children in pre-K through fifth grade. Children have the opportunity to develop singing skills, grow in fellowship and community, and participate in worship. The Children’s Choir rehearses on scheduled Sundays from 11:45 a.m. until 12:15 p.m. in the Children’s Choir room upstairs, 2C. They sing on Children and Youth Sundays and at other worship services such as the Christmas Pageant. The Children’s Choir is directed by Abigail Stinnett and assisted by Stanley M. Baker, Assistant Choirmaster & Organist.
The Youth Orchestra is open to all youth in upper elementary, middle, and high school. The orchestra includes strings, brass, woodwinds, piano, and acoustic guitar. The ensemble plays on Children and Youth Sundays at the 10:30 a.m. worship services and at other worship services during the year. Rehearsals are held after the 10:30 a.m. worship services several weeks before the performances. The Youth Orchestra is directed by Stanley M. Baker, Assistant Choirmaster & Organist.
The Grace & Holy Trinity Church Organ
Austin Organ #2638, 1979
The Holy Trinity building, completed in about 1894, contained a mechanical-action Hook & Hastings organ. When Holy Trinity and Grace Churches merged in 1924, Hook & Hastings enlarged the organ, using their new electro-pneumatic action to operate the existing windchests. The original Holy Trinity console was attached on the left side – the new console was detached on the right side. The organ had an abundance of unison tones. Perhaps the most unusual thing about the organ was that the very rare Hook & Hastings orchestral flute stop existed in both the main organ and in the Echo division. These pipes were made without traditional mouths, a tube conveyed wind from the toe to the hole in the side of the pipe, so they could be blown just like an orchestral flute.
Evidently, the original windchests had problems, so by the time of World War II, the organ needed to be rebuilt. The Tellers firm of Erie, Pennsylvania was very active in Richmond at this time, having rebuilt the organ in the Roman Catholic Cathedral so they were given the contract to rebuild and enlarge the organ. The console shell was retained, most of the pipes were replaced with the Tellers ventil windchests, and more stops were added, mainly unison and solo stops.
By the 1970s, the ventil chests and the console were installed. The Hook & Hastings was sold, except for a few stops that were retained, such as the Pedal 16’ Open Wood, the Antiphonal Gedeckt, Viole, Octave, Pedal Bourdon, and Diapason.
After the initial installation, additions were made through the years, such as the Trompette en Chamade in the back. This Gallery Trumpet (installed in 1996) was made possible by a gift in memory of Richard Caswell Cooke, Sallie Lewis Broaddus, and Gray Massie Broaddus. Additional stops were derived from existing resources in the main organ.
At some point, the console was also converted from electro-mechanical combination action to solid-state. However, the work was entrusted to different firms at different times, each using the type of action they preferred. The result was a confusing array of devices that sometimes were not fully compatible. In addition, there was metal fatigue in the largest reed pipes of the organ, the 32’ Bombarde.
Lewis & Hitchcock recommended converging the organ to one system of operation so that everything would be compatible. In 2004 the console was removed to their factory, where it was fitted with a new system designed by the Peterson Electro-Musical Company of Chicago, Illinois. This system was recommended because of the simplicity of operation, reliability of the components, as well as support available from the company. A matching system was installed in the organ chamber. All the information is sent from the console over an Ethernet cable. This data stream can be manipulated by a Transposer or recorded by a Sequencer. Each organist has a data bank available to keep combinations that may be locked. Crescendos and Full Organ settings may be revised to suit the music. As the system is software-based, it can be updated.
In 2008, a gift in memory of Freda Hatcher Rollings was made for a moveable organ console. The moveable console enhances the music ministry and our concert series at Grace & Holy Trinity by making our wonderful organ more accessible, and the organ music more meaningful to the congregation and community.
Keely Bosworth Borland
Soprano Section Leader
Praised for her ‘magnificent, expressive soprano sound’ and ‘requisite emotion, physically as well as vocally’ (ShowBizRadio), Keely Bosworth Borland most recently made her Richmond Symphony Orchestra debut as Soprano Soloist in Handel’s Messiah and performed in the Chorus (Edith Cover) in Virginia Opera’s The Pirates of Penzance. In the 2021/2022 season, Ms. Borland performed as Due Donne/Le nozze di Figaro with Virginia Opera and Soprano Soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Central VA Masterworks Chorale.
During the pandemic, Ms. Borland supplemented her time with virtual musicals including Kathy Seldon/Singin’ in the Rain, Fiona MacLaren/Brigadoon, Carrie/Carousel, Anne Egerman/A Little Night Music, and Hodel/Fiddler on the Roof. Career highlights include Fiona MacLaren/Brigadoon (RMT), Gianetta/The Gondoliers (VLOC), Rapunzel/Into the Woods (St. Petersburg Opera), First Lady/The Magic Flute (Fargo-Moorhead Opera), Gretel/Hansel and Gretel (Opera Louisiane) as well as Soprano Soloist in Baltimore Choral Arts Society’s presentation of David Lang’s the little match girl passion, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with Choralis, and Vivaldi’s Gloria & Handel’s Messiah, with the Westmoreland Choral Society.
A resident of Richmond, Ms. Borland is an Adjunct Voice Professor at Randolph-Macon College and works in the Film/TV industry, most notable projects include The Walking Dead: World Beyond, Dopesick, White House Plumbers, and Swagger.
Assistant Tenor Section Leader
Alan Chavez is a Richmond native and has been consistently performing since his debut at VCU in 2011, becoming a familiar face in opera around the Richmond area ever since.
As a baritone Alan has performed many operatic roles from a variety of different time periods, including Slook in Rossini’s La Cambiale di Matrimonio, the title role in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, the Conte Almaviva as well as the title role in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, the Pirate King in Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, Schaunard In Puccini’s La Boheme, and Morales and Dancaiiro in Bizet’s Carmen.
As a tenor Alan has already secured many performances including performances as Siegmund in Wagner’s Die Walküre, Manrico in Verdi’s Il Trovatore, and Monostatos and the First Armored Man in Mozart’s The Magic Flute.
It is a great honor and privilege for Alan to sing with Grace & Holy Trinity Church, as he spent his childhood in this church and more importantly he gets to continue his familial tradition of offering his musical gifts to this amazing congregation started by his mother, who was a soprano in the choir for many years, and his grandparents who performed here frequently while teaching music at VCU.
Assistant Soprano Section Leader
Annabella Cox, better known as Bella, is a vocalist and educator based in Richmond, VA. She currently attends VCU where she studies Music Education and participates in the many wonderful opportunities in vocal performance. She is a student of Michelle Harman-Gulick and has been recognized by the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS), winning first place in both state and regional vocal competitions. Bella discovered her love for music through musical theater productions and can occasionally still be found performing in shows around Richmond or Music Directing local children’s productions. Bella recently made her operatic debut in VCU’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute and hopes to soon add more opera to her repertoire. Bella loves singing baroque and romantic works, including those of Handel Bach, Offenbach, and many more. She also enjoys singing contemporary choral works such as Ola Gjeilo’s “Sunrise Mass’ which she performed at the Wintergreen Music Festival this summer.
Bella is also an avid member of the VCU choir community, singing in Choral Arts, Vocal Chamber Ensemble, and Commonwealth Singers, as well as serving on the ACDA Executive Board, including a year as president, throughout her four years. Bella has served as Choir Manager and Section Leader in the previously mentioned ensemble, facilitating rehearsals and logistics on concert days.
Bella is so excited and honored to be singing with the choir at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church. She is so grateful for the welcoming community and beautiful music that she gets to participate in with this wonderful choir.
Bass Section Leader
Acclaimed by Richmond Times Dispatch’s Tony Farrell “… especially baritone Chase Peak … who delivers every line with magnificent dynamics and indulges in terrific, expressive bits of acting business whenever he is onstage” for his role as Kapitan Tiago in COR’s production of Noli Me Tangere in 2016. He was also heralded by M. D. Ridge of WHRO Norfolk as “..robustly extroverted with a big, exuberant voice and confident manner” in the 2014 production of La Bohème, where he was featured in the role of Schaunard with Lyric Opera of Virginia. In 2008, he performed the National Anthem for President Barack Obama. Chase Peak is a graduate of VCU’s Department of Music with a vocal performance degree. Mr. Peak is in high demand for church and cathedral performances. He performed the role of Guglielmo in Mozart’s Cosi fan Tutte with Virginia Opera’s Young Artist Program. Most recently, Mr. Peak performed Marcello in COR’s production of La Boheme. In Chase’s personal career he works as an Investment Consultant with Fidelity Investments. Chase is a father to Wells Peak and husband to Erica Peak who is an Infectious Disease Doctor at VCU Health.
Alto Section Leader & Children’s Choir Director
Abigail Stinnett is no stranger to Richmond. She grew up just around the corner in Mechanicsville and attended Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied classical singing and discovered that opera was a passion. Abigail graduated from VCU with a Bachelor of Music degree in Vocal Performance. While at VCU, she participated in two award winning productions from the National Opera Association singing Miss Todd in The Old Maid and the Thief and the Witch in Hansel and Gretel. Other favorite roles include the Third Lady in The Magic Flute, Sally in Die Fledermaus and Sister Osmina in Suor Angelica. Aside from performing, Abigail is the alto section lead in the Chancel Choir and the assistant Youth Choir Director at Grace and Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Tenor Section Leader
James Taylor, M.M. (Yale University), is an internationally celebrated performer. At home in opera, concert, recital, and musical theatre, he has appeared with numerous opera companies, symphonies, and theatres, including the New York City Opera, San Francisco Opera, Opera Carolina, Göttigen Handel Festspiele, Theatre Augsburg, and the Nederlandse Reisopera. He has given recitals in the US, Europe, and Asia, and has appeared in leading roles in musicals. A talented and sought-after educator, he has served as Director of Opera at Drake University and the University of Alabama and has been on the music faculties of VCU and the University of Virginia. His students have gone on to such prestigious schools as the New England Conservatory, Juilliard, Manhattan School of Music, Yale University, and the Royal College of Music. Several of his students perform regularly with the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Semperoper, Glyndebourne, the Opera Comique, Utah Opera, Central City Opera, Landestheater Niederbayern, and the Oldenburgisches Staatsoper.
Mr. Taylor resides in Bon Air, Virginia, with his wife Sheridan and their two daughters Virginia and Meg.
Mary Stuart Watkins
Assistant Soprano Section Leader
Mary Stuart Watkins has been a choir member of GHTC since 2003 and is currently an assistant soprano section leader. During the week, she is a project manager for a Richmond based real estate management company.
Mary Stuart has directed the Children’s Choir, served as music intern, and participated in numerous musical concerts/events at GHTC and the surrounding Richmond Metro area.
Her musical involvement started at an early age with both of her parents being accomplished organists working in various churches in Southern Virginia. This introduction led to her completing degrees in music and international studies at Virginia Commonwealth University. In her spare time, she enjoys painting, interior styling projects, working on guitar and hanging with family and friends.
Assistant Bass Section Leader
Cannon West is a software engineer and VCU Computer Science alum that spends his free time pursuing his passion for singing anyway he can. Growing up in Northern Virginia, he began classical vocal training in high school, pursuing interests in chamber singing and musicals, before moving to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University.
Today, studying under Jim Taylor, he relishes any opportunity to sing locally. He has performed as part of VCU’s latest cast of The Magic Flute and as a member of the Richmond Symphony Chorus, he has sung on the Carpenter Theatre stage on a wide range of projects.
Cannon enjoys living in downtown Richmond and raising two wonderful cats and dog with his partner Julia.
Soprano Section Leader
Caroline Whisnant is an American opera singer and soprano whose repertoire encompasses Richard Strauss, Puccini, Wagner, bel canto, lieder, American Standards and musical theater. Her signature roles include the title role in Richard Strauss’s Elektra, the Dyer’s Wife in Die Frau ohne Schatten, the title role in Puccini’s Turandot & Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Caroline established herself as one of the finest singing actresses in the dramatic soprano repertoire. For her triumphant performance as Elektra with Frankfurt Opera the press raved “the way she nurses her father’s gleaming axe, you would not want to meet her in a dark alley.” In Die Walküre her performance was praised as “a perfect portrait of Brünnhilde.” While in America, Caroline worked across the United States with numerous houses including the Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Washington Opera and Dallas Opera. In Europe she has sung Turandot with Teatro La Fenice (Venice, Italy), Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe, Hessisches Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Nationaltheater Mannheim and the Staatsoper Hannover; Elektra with Oper Frankfurt, Teatr Wielki in Warsaw, Stockholm’s Kungliga Operan and Norway’s Den Norske Opera and Anna Bolena with Nationaltheater Mannheim.