One of the first times I ever worked closely with Charles Tompkins was in rehearsals for my Doctoral Lecture Recital in 1991. I was preparing a choir to sing some Venetian renaissance vocal music that was difficult to read, with antiquated notation and different clefs for each part, but — this was not daunting at all to Charles Tompkins — he played all of it with ease. I remember thinking after our rehearsal, “This guy can play anything! Plus, he has a great sense of humor — what a terrific person to work with!” In my work here at First Baptist with Charles, those things have remained true. He honestly can play anything, he can be hilarious in choir rehearsals, and he is terrific to work with.
I am saddened to share the news that Charles has decided to resign his position here as organist and accept a position at Christ Church in September. He has served as our organist here for 19 years and done a fantastic job. I am incredibly thankful to have been here for part of that time, listening to his beautiful playing week in and week out for our worship services. He has done excellent work accompanying the Sanctuary Choir and is a great resource for choral music. I especially appreciated him accompanying the choir when they sang for an American Choral Directors Association conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He has worked with the choir on many other occasions and church music festivals, too.
Charles is a gifted artist and performer on the organ, but he also cares deeply about the liturgy and music of the church. He loves the hymns and sacred music of the church and has always thought one of the most important roles of the organ in church music is to lead in congregational singing. We have been extremely fortunate to have him share his talents and music with us at First Baptist. He will come back and present a recital here October 2, and will continue in his work on the music faculty of Furman University. He is one of the finest people I have ever had the opportunity to work with and is a treasure for this community. We wish him all the best.