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Duke Chapel Begins New Organ Scholars Program in Sacred Music

Program is in conjunction with a new 4 p.m. Sunday worship service in Goodson Chapel


Jordan Prescott and Eric Surber

Duke Chapel has begun a new Organ Scholars program that will train organ students in sacred music. The two-year program includes instruction for two students on playing during church services and choral accompaniment. The chapel is launching the program along with a new weekly worship service, Choral Evensong, which will take place at 4 p.m. Sundays in the Divinity School’s Goodson Chapel. The two organ scholars will play at the Evensong service and be joined by the Evensong Singers, a new auditioned choir at Duke Chapel. Chapel organist Christopher Jacobson will oversee the instruction of the scholars and conduct the choir during the Evensong services. “In adopting this proven model of training organists, the chapel is not only contributing to the future of sacred music in America,” Jacobson said, “but it is also joining in the great tradition of cathedrals and chapels around the world offering daily prayer and praise to God.” The Evensong service, beginning Aug. 30 and open to the public, is based on the traditional Order for Evening Prayer in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England. In addition to Scripture readings and spoken prayers, most of the music is sung by the choir as a prayer and an invitation to peacefully contemplate God’s beauty and glory.  The service will move into Duke Chapel in the 2016-17 academic year, after restoration work on the building is complete. The two Organ Scholars for the 2015-16 academic year are: -- Jordan Prescott, a native of Greenville, N.C., and an undergraduate student at East Carolina University studying organ performance. Prescott was the 2014 winner of the VanSciver Church Music Scholarship in Organ from Metropolitan Music Ministries and was also awarded the 2015 E. Power Biggs Fellowship from the Organ Historical Society. He has held music positions at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Greenville, N.C., and First Christian Church in Farmville, N.C. -- Eric Surber, a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill studying journalism and organ. A native of Greensboro, N.C., Surber is active in The Episcopal Church, playing organ for evening services and singing in two choirs at the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, N.C. In addition to studying organ, he has been a harpsichordist for UNC-Chapel Hill's Baroque Ensemble. Learn more about the Organ Scholars program at