Sanctuary and Organ
Many great traditions have flourished in South Main Baptist Church’s first century, and music has played a crucial role from the beginning. In 1929, as members began planning for a new home for the church, they knew they wanted the Sanctuary to support a beautiful and meaningful worship experience, including not only a choir of voices but also a pipe organ.
Architecture matters in worship. Our sanctuary was designed to evoke awe and wonder. Intricate and thoughtful details fill the room; paint and plaster are transformed to immerse worshippers in the story of the Bible and the greatness of God. The high ceiling reminds us that we are small and God is big — bigger in fact than any problem we face, pain we endure, sin we commit, or doubt we bring. The stained glass windows allow the light streaming into the room to declare the Gospel story. In thoughtfully chosen symbols, the stained class recounts the life and ministry of Jesus and the great themes of the Bible. Above the baptistry you’ll see the words “One Lord • One Faith • One Baptism.” Taken from Paul’s letter to the Philippians, these words declare that Jesus is indeed King of kings and Lord of lords, that He calls all the world into true faith in Him, and that all those who follow in baptism are members of His family.
At South Main you’ll find the same thoughtful intentionality that went into designing the sanctuary also goes into planning worship and ministry week by week.
The Sanctuary Organ
In 2014 South Main selected Nichols & Simpson Organ Builders of Little Rock, Arkansas, to replace our aging sanctuary organ with a new instrument capable of leading worship for generations to come. Installation of this magnificent new instrument began in the summer of 2016 and was completed about a year later, in time to accompany future generations into South Main’s second century of worship. With the new organ in place, the sanctuary serves not only as the heart of worship at South Main, but also host to many great musical events in Houston. The combination of aesthetic beauty, acoustical balance, and powerful organ pipes makes this one of the premier places to experience live music in all of Houston.
South Main’s organist, Dr. Yuri McCoy, graduated from the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he studied with organist Ken Cowan. Hailed by Gramophone magazine as an organist possessing “rare virtuosity,” Yuri has made his mark on the organ world through bracingly original programming and a strong desire to shed a spotlight on less traversed areas of keyboard literature. Whether it is Ligeti‘s Etudes on piano or his own daring transcription of Varese’s massive orchestral work, Amériques, for organ, percussion, and assistant, Yuri enjoys the opportunity to share new and unusual sounds with audiences. During the summer of 2019, he performed his transcription of Lutoslawski’s piano concerto alongside pianist Yvonne Chen at the Spoleto Music Festival. He also supports the music of living composers and in 2006 premiered “Voices of the Invisible Blue Butterflies” by Vache Sharafyan at the SoundSCAPE music festival in Cortona, Italy.
In 2021, Yuri released his first solo album on the Acis label. The disc, Symphonic Roar: An Odyssey of Sound from the Paris Conservertoire, was lauded by OrlgelNieuws for its “beautiful narrative” and by BBC Music Magazine for its “bonkers” arrangement of Varese's Amériques, which it proclaimed was “quite the ride.”
Many of Yuri’s performances and recordings have been broadcast nationally on NPR’s Pipedreams and With Heart and Voice. Yuri also regularly posts on his YouTube channel organ videos involving everything from B-movie acting and special effects to claymation and slapstick. (Check out his performance of Iain Farrington’s jazz setting of “Every Time I Feel the Spirit.” The organ registrations are meant to showcase the colorful and theatrical side of our own Nichols & Simpson organ.)
In 2016, Yuri was honored to perform for the American Guild of Organists National Convention at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston under the direction of Dr. Brady Knapp. In the summer of 2015, Yuri traveled to Leipzig, Germany, to perform on historic organs while studying with Stephan Engels at the Hochschule für Musikund Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy”.
In 2010, Yuri earned a Master of Music in piano performance from the University of Hawai’i at Mãnoa. While at the University of Hawai’i, he spent four years as the Organ Scholar of St. Andrew’s Cathedral working with the Cathedral’s Canon of Music, John Renke. Yuri and his wife, whom he met while studying in Hawai’i, have two daughters.