“His hand was all over this community,” said Stan Workman, music director of Portsmouth’s Second Presbyterian Church.
Workman was referring to the late Charles V. Varney, a well-known, and according to Workman, well loved, music teacher, music director and singer at various churches and schools around Portsmouth to include Second Presbyterian Church.
On Sunday, Second Presbyterian will present “An Hour of Sacred Song,” the ninth annual Charles P. and Geneva Mae Varney Memorial Scholarship Concert.
Workman said scholarships in the name of the Varneys have been given out for the last seven years, to college students studying music or musical performance of one type or another with an emphasis on vocal studies as Charles Varney was a singer.
The concert will feature Workman and Justin Wiget, who will trade back and forth singing solo and accompanying the other on Second Presbyterian’s huge and historic organ. Workman said the pair will also perform a number of duets.
Wiget is a music instructor for the Clay Local School District as well as music director for All Saints Episcopal Church in Portsmouth. He also is involved with the Portsmouth Civic Chorale.
Workman has been artistic director at Second Presbyterian for literally decades. He is also a music and theater instructor for Shawnee State University. Workman further recently was named artistic director of the Vern Riffe Center for the Performing Arts at SSU. Workman promised he wants to work to better connect the Riffe Center with the surrounding community. But during this interview, he wanted to talk about Sunday’s benefit performance.
“It just promises to be a fun afternoon,” Workman vowed.
Workman noted Varney was his music teacher back in high school. Varney died in 2010. His wife, Geneva, since her husband’s death has moved to Utah to live with a daughter.
“She’s still here and active in spirit, you could say,” Workman said, adding he stays in contact with Geneva Varney.
Over the summer, Second Presbyterian sponsored the first of what could become several concerts to benefit restoration of the church’s huge organ. Workman says there are close to 3,000 pipes creating the instrument’s tones, which can mimic virtually an entire orchestra, everything from chimes and harps to various wind instruments.
In a brief demonstration of the organ’s capabilities during an interview for the previous concert, Workman easily moved the sound of the instrument from soft and subtle to loud and majestic. He notes when the organ’s pipes were spread out a few years ago to be cleaned, they filled the entire second floor of the church.
Workman said the many and varied “colors” of the organ make it unique among the various church organs in Portsmouth. He added the size and intricacy of the instrument also set it apart.
Sunday’s concert is set for 3 p.m. at the church, 801 Waller St. The concert is free and open to the public though contributions will be encouraged and accepted. Proceeds are held in trust by the Scioto Foundation. Call 740-353-4159 for further information. Details also will be forthcoming on the church’s second annual “Pipe Screams Concert Spooktacular,” 7 p.m. Oct. 28.