Growth & Purpose Through the Arts

Religious Arts Festival

Join us July 28-30, 2022 for masterclasses and recitals on the organ and choral music of JS Bach, Louis Vierne and their contemporaries.

This multi-day course is designed for organists and church musicians seeking to broaden their knowledge in aspects of performance practices of the music of the Baroque era and French Symphonic school.  

Organ masterclasses and recitals will be given by renown artists Peter Sykes and Eric Plutz. Alicia Walker will lead choral sessions and Wayne Leupold will discuss his most recent publications. A closing worship service will be directed by Patrick Hawkins.

Performers and presenters will join participants in thoughtful discussions and powerful performances. Events will be held at four locations in Columbia, S.C., in order to perfectly match the repertoire to the distinct instruments. The festival is funded with assistance from the Arthur William Fisher Endowment.

Registration Information

Registration & Deadline
Registration is closed for this event as the July 15, 2022 deadline has now passed.

  • $105 includes two recitals, masterclasses and continental breakfast and lunch on July 29. 
  • Questions can be directed to Patrick Hawkins, DMA at


Aerial view of LTSS campus with City of Columbia skyline
  • Thursday, July 28, 2022

    3-5 p.m.            
    Student Union, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

    5 p.m.
    Downtown Columbia (free time)  

    7:30 p.m.
    Recital by Peter Sykes, The Juilliard School of Music
    Christ Chapel, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

    Post Recital
    Meet and Greet Reception 
    Student Union, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

  • Friday, July 29, 2022

    8:30 a.m.
    Continental Breakfast 
    Café, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary 

    9-10:50 a.m.
    Masterclass by Peter Sykes, The Juilliard School of Music 
    Organ-related topics of JS Bach

    Christ Chapel, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary
    10:50 a.m.

    11 a.m.-Noon
    Wayne Leupold, Leupold Editions
    Christ Chapel, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary
    Noon-1 p.m.
    Café, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

    1-2:45 p.m.
    Choral Session with Alicia W. Walker, Ph.D., University of South Carolina 
    Christ Chapel, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

    2:45 p.m.

    3-4:30 p.m.
    Organ Improvisation by Peter Sykes, The Juilliard School of Music 
    Christ Chapel, Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

    4:30 p.m.
    Dinner – Downtown Columbia (free time)  

    7:30 p.m.
    Recital by Eric Plutz, Princeton University
    Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 1100 Sumter Street, Columbia

    Post Recital    
    Meet and Greet Reception
    Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, 1100 Sumter Street, Columbia

  • Saturday, July 30, 2022

    9:30-10:30 a.m.    
    Service of Morning Prayer 
    Patrick Hawkins, organist 

    Featuring multi-church choir from local churches 
    Incarnation Lutheran Church, 3005 Devine Street, Columbia

    11 a.m.-1 p.m.    
    Masterclass by Eric Plutz
    Louis Vierne/French Romantic Literature

    Shandon United Methodist Church, 3407 Devine Street, Columbia


  • Peter Sykes, The Juilliard School of Music
    Peter Sykes

    As one of the most distinguished and versatile artists, Peyer Sykes’ playing has been called compelling and moving, magnificent and revelatory, and bold, imaginative and amazingly accurate. At the festival, he will provide a recital, organ improvisation and masterclass on organ-related topics of German composer Johann Sebastian Bach.

    A principal instructor of the harpsichord at The Juilliard School of Music since 2014, Sykes has appeared throughout the United States and internationally, including an appearance at the Library of Congress and as a featured soloist in the Bank of Boston Emerging Artists Celebrity Series. 

    His solo performances include an all-Bach inaugural recital on a new organ by Fritz Noack for the Langholtskirkja in Reykjavik, Iceland, de Falla’s Harpsichord Concerto with the Chameleon Arts Ensemble, and the Schumann Piano Quintet on original instruments with the Van Swieten Quartet. Sykes has made 10 solo recordings of organ and harpsichord repertoire ranging from Buxtehude, Couperin and Bach to Reger and Hindemith and his acclaimed organ transcription of Holst’s “The Planets.” He also performs and records with Grammy-nominated Boston Baroque and Aston Magna.

    As a teacher and mentor of aspiring professional performers, Sykes serves as associate professor of music and chair of the historical performance department at Boston University, where he teaches organ, harpsichord, clavichord and continuo realization. He holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and Concordia University in Montreal. 

  • Wayne Leupold, Leupold Editions
    Wayne Leupold

    During his presentation, organist and business owner Wayne Leupold will highlight the organ music available for organizations and church musicians. In addition, publications will be for sale after the class.

    In 2020, Wayne Leupold Editions was given to the Leupold Foundation. The Leupold Foundation has eight part-time employees dedicated to creating, publishing and preserving the highest-quality organ music from all historical periods.
    In 2000, the business opened a new division to publish its first collection of new hymn texts. That department expanded to include more than 50 collections of new hymn tunes and texts, totaling more than 3,500 new hymns for use in houses of worship. 

    In December 1988, Leupold founded Wayne Leupold Editions in Cazenovia, New York, to publish high-quality editions of nineteenth- and twentieth-century organ music. In the early 1990s, Leupold moved his company to North Carolina and began developing publications for teaching the organ at many different levels. Its first publication, “First Organ Book,” was initially published in 1995 and is now used worldwide as a traditional beginning organ method. Subsequently, they developed many other teaching publications in the series.

  • Alicia W. Walker, D.M.A., University of South Carolina
    Alicia W. Walker

    Conductor and worldwide choral ambassador Alicia W. Walker will host a choral session exploring how to achieve the best sound from church singers for Baroque literature. In addition, she will discuss new publications of Baroque music and tried-and-true literature recommendations.

    As director of choral studies at University of South Carolina, Walker conducts the concert choir and men’s chorus, open to tenors and basses. These choirs sing formal concerts of major works and diverse programs that include all style periods, global music and premieres of commissioned pieces. Concert Choir, the flagship ensemble, has traveled the globe, performing in some of the world’s most prestigious venues. She also supervises the graduate conducting program.

    Each year, Walker travels to South Africa to teach continuing education for choral directors. She is regularly invited to conduct and teach in England and Taiwan. Walker made her conducting debut at Carnegie Hall in 2015 and at Lincoln Center in 2019. Her choirs have performed for the South Carolina Music Educators Association and the South Carolina American Choral Directors Association conference. Walker’s pedagogy and professional interactions are marked by a commitment to excellence, collaboration and inclusion.

    Walker holds degrees from Florida State University, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and the University of Georgia. 

  • Eric Plutz, Princeton University
    Eric Plutz

    World-renowned organist Eric Plutz will grace the cathedral and the audience with his enthusiasm, flair, clarity and strong yet pliant rhythmic control of the beautiful sound of the organ.
    Plutz, university organist at Princeton University, plays for weekly services at the chapel, academic ceremonies and solo concerts. He also coordinates the weekly After Noon Concert Series at the university chapel and maintains a private studio of organ students. As an accompanist, Plutz has recently concluded 15 years as a rehearsal accompanist for the Westminster Symphonic Choir at Westminster Choir College. Additionally, he has worked with many organizations, including the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, National Symphony Orchestra, Choral Arts Society of Washington and the Cathedral Choral Society. As a teacher, he held the position of adjunct assistant professor of organ at Westminster Choir College three separate times.
    With several solo recordings to his credit, Plutz also has solo performances across the United States and abroad, including Salzburg, Austria and Berlin, Germany. In 2021, Plutz returned to playing live symphonies in a tour entitled “The Vierne Project.” He traveled the country performing Louis Vierne’s complete organ symphonies, which honored the composters sesquicentennial. Plutz dedicated the last 15 years of his life to learning the music. 

    Plutz earned his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, from Westminster Choir College and a master’s degree from the Eastman School of Music.

Featured Organs

These are specifications for the organs that will be used during the Religious Arts Festival. All organs are located in Columbia, South Carolina. 

Local Accommodations & Attractions

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COVID-19 Information

Please watch for communications from the university or seminary for any changes to the festival’s schedule of events.

Current COVID-19 Protocols