Summer Music at St. Luke’s: An Introduction to Our Guest Organists

By Kate Weber-Petrova

Every year as summer approaches and the activities of the school year come to a halt, there is a discernible change in the DC and Alexandria region. Downtown neighborhoods are filled with families who go out to enjoy the beautiful weather on the weekends. Friends share summer vacation plans and meet up for picnics and music in the park. And eventually, the constant traffic we are all so accustomed to becomes a little less congested as people leave town or just slow down. Summers in our area are a special time, when the everyday pace of life slows a bit, and we’re invited to spend a little more time noticing God’s beauty all around us, in the quiet moments of leisure, the laughter of children playing, and the blooming flowers of summer.

Summer is also a time when Sunday worship can enrich our lives in new ways. Outdoor services offer us opportunities to reflect upon God surrounded by the beauty of nature, and the slower pace on Sunday mornings often translates to more time spent talking with friends new and old over coffee. As the choirs take a break from weekly rehearsals, services at St. Luke’s can take on a new energy as well, and that will surely be the case this summer as St. Luke’s welcomes two talented guest organists: Giles Cooke and Virginia Sircy. Their music, which I’ve had the opportunity to preview, will surely be both beautiful and restorative. They have compiled a rich selection of voluntaries throughout the summer, and their many years of experience as church musicians will surely enrich summer worship at St. Luke’s. I am so grateful to them both for their willingness to provide music during my maternity leave, and I hope you will all enjoy getting to know them over the summer.

Giles Cooke is a native of Tidewater Virginia. He graduated from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey, with a degree in organ performance. During his years living in Williamsburg, Virginia, he took part in numerous adventures instrumental, choral, and liturgical. He served for a decade as rehearsal and performance accompanist for the Williamsburg Choral Guild, and was for several years harpsichordist for the Governor’s Musick, Colonial Williamsburg’s early music ensemble. He has presented many solo recitals on both organ and harpsichord. Over three decades’ service as organist-choirmaster in Episcopal parishes, he nurtured a love of sacramental liturgy. He is grateful when Mother Church calls on him occasionally to test his mettle against reality, especially on an instrument as noble as St. Luke’s! Giles and his wife Diane (also an organist) reside in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Virginia Sircy has been a substitute organist at St. Luke’s for several seasons and appreciates the friendly welcome she has received from the members of St. Luke’s.  She holds three degrees in Piano Performance.  Her academic career includes faculty positions at Mississippi College, William Woods College and Cameron University. Ms. Sircy served as choirmaster/organist for St. Francis Episcopal, Great Falls from 2005-2013, and she has been a substitute organist at several area churches since retiring from St. Francis.  

Ms. Sircy is a founding member and pianist of Words&Music, a professional vocal quartet based in northern Virginia. She is also a member of the Assisi Performing Arts Festival in Assisi, Italy, and will return to that country for her fifth season with the festival in early July.

Ms. Sircy lives in Alexandria with her husband, Otice Sircy, a retired English professor, and they have a daughter, Catherine, an attorney with Wilmer/Hale law firm.