As a young musician, Weston Jennings didn’t care about playing a pipe organ.
“When I was growing up I wanted to be a concert pianist,” he said.
As a 16-year-old, he was taking piano classes at the Interlochen (Michigan) Summer Arts Camp when a counselor suggested he give the organ a try.
“I needed to fill out my class schedule,” he said. “I thought, ‘Sure, why not.’”
At first he found playing the organ to be a challenge.
“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my goodness, there’s a slight delay” in the sound emerging after striking they keys, he said.
It didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the powerful wall of sound the organ can produce and to use the instrument to inspire and strengthen the faith of others.
This summer, he became the organist and music director at First Presbyterian Church in Tyler. He leads music during each service and oversees the church’s fine arts performance series.
He also has taken over as director of Tyler Civic Chorale.
Prior to coming to Tyler, Jennings was an instructor of organ at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. He holds a bachelor’s degree and Performer’s Certificate from Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York.
After college, he spent two years in England as the organ scholar at Canterbury Cathedral and then at the Cathedral Church of St. Mary, St. Peter and St. Cedd in Chelmsford.
While in England, Jennings was appointed the first Organ Scholar to the Royal Festival Hall in London.
He has performed recitals at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., at Westminster Abbey in London, Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in New York City and the Chapel of the Queen’s College in Oxford, England.
Weston leads First Presbyterian’s Chancel Choir and Carillon Handbell Choir.
At the church, he performs on one of the largest pipe organs in the region.
The organ, built in 2000 by Casvant Feres, features “beautiful clear flutes, warm diapasons and a variety of reed color and tone,” according to information from the church.
Jennings said he loves the organ’s ability to produce an amazing array of sounds.
“It’s been said that the organ is the only instrument that can match the greatness of the cosmos,” he said. “The organ is capable of things that other instruments can’t grasp.”
As an instrument used during worship, the organ helps people affirm their faith and connect with God, he said.
“Some of my most memorable experiences in playing the organ are accompanying choirs performing hymns,” he said. “You can feel a real connection with the congregation.”