Dr. Eileen Guenther, who served as First Church substitute music director from late October through January 27 has accepted our invitation that she become our permanent Director of Music, Organist, and Pianist. Eileen is remarkably qualified as a conductor, organist, pianist, and colleague in worship planning. Since October, she has worked closely with our pastor and Worship Commission to blend music and worship in creative ways. She is attracting new choir members. She is full of new ideas. We continue to delight in her playing of our organ that was in storage for over five years.
BACKGROUND: DR. EILEEN GUENTHER
Dr. Eileen Guenther is Associate Professor of Church Music at Wesley Theological Seminary and teaches organ at the George Washington University. At Wesley, she teaches a variety of courses in music and worship and is Director of Chapel Music. Dr. Guenther lectures for churches and musical and denominational organizations on global music, Spirituals, and Music and Social Justice. Her book on clergy-musician relations, Rival or a Team: Clergy-Musician Relationships in the 21st Century was published in June, 2012 by MorningStar Music Publishers. She is currently working on a book on Spirituals, The Power of Spirituals: In their own words.
Dr. Guenther has held leadership roles in the American Guild of Organists for many years. She is now in her third term as National President of this 18,000-member international organization and has previously served as Dean of the Washington (D.C.) Chapter and Chair of the 1982 AGO National Convention in Washington. As a member of the AGO National Council, she held the offices of Councillor for Organizational Concerns, Councillor for Professional Development, and Vice President.
Eileen places a high value on world music and she has served as visiting lecturer at Africa University in Zimbabwe. She has also been part of United Methodist Global Praise teams teaching music and worship in Uganda and Ivory Coast. South Africa holds a special place in her heart, and she has led six groups of students from Wesley Seminary on immersion trips there. She recently served as Consultant to officials from the Chinese government on the organ project of the Pipe Organ Museum on Gulangyu Island, China. She is a national and international organ recitalist and has performed in Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.
Featured on recordings of several record labels and for many years, Eileen was the host of her own award-winning radio program, The Royal Instrument, broadcast on Washington’s WGMS. In 2007, Dr. Guenther concluded a distinguished career at Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, where she served as Minister of Music and Liturgy for many years and designed the church’s 60-rank Casavant sanctuary organ. Under her leadership, the Foundry Choir appeared at United Methodist General Conference twice and sang at the Baltimore–Washington Annual Conference on many occasions. The Foundry Choir also sang at the White House numerous times and was described in a review by The Washington Post as “one of Washington’s best choruses.” With repertoire ranging from Bach to Vaughan Williams, these singers presented an annual Concert for Life which raised more than $600,000 for organizations serving those living with HIV/AIDS in Southern Africa and in the Washington area.