About Our Organ

Many great traditions have flourished in South Main Baptist'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 voices, but also a pipe organ.

The Sanctuary Organ

South Main's Sanctuary original pipe organ was installed in 1934 by the well known Kilgen Organ Company of St. Louis, Missouri. The organ was maintained year after year. In 1987, some additions were made by John T. Fort, but no major mechanical upgrades were pursued, and much of the original pipework, wiring, and infrastructure remained intact.

In 2009, the South Main Music Ministry Council began to assess long-term needs of the organ after becoming aware of mechanical, electrical, and tonal problems. Opinions were sought from seven nationally recognized organ builders, all of which advised replacing all organ components except the best pipework, and enlarging the organ's resonating chambers. An Organ Task Force was formed in 2014 to interview candidates and select a builder. The task force unanimously recommended Nichols & Simpson Organ Builders of Little Rock, Arkansas, finding that they showed the best understanding of South Main's specific needs and the vital role that music plays, both for our church and for the broader Houston community.

Installation of this magnificent new instrument began in the summer of 2016 and was completed approximately one year later, in plenty of time to accompany future generations into South Main’s second century of worship. Click here to read the specifications of the new Nichols & Simpson organ.

Our Organist

South Main's Organist, Yuri McCoy, is a doctoral student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he studies with organist Ken Cowan. Yuri’s has a vast repertoire for piano and organ, and he is especially passionate about music of the 20th and 21st centuries. Whether it is Ligeti’s Etudes on piano or Schoenberg’s Variations on a Recitative for organ, Yuri enjoys the opportunity to share less familiar masterworks with audiences. He also supports the music of living composers, and in 2006 premiered Voices of the Invisible Blue Butterflies by Vach Sharafyan at the SoundSCAPE music festival in Cortona, Italy.

Yuri earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, studying with Dr. Leslie Petteys. While in West Virginia, he won the Concert of Soloists Competition, the West Virginia Music Teachers' Association Mountain State Collegiate Piano Competition, and the Belle and Lynum Jackson Competition.

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. In the summer of 2015, Yuri traveled to Leipzig, Germany, to study organ with Stephan Engels at the Hochschule für Musikund Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy”. In 2016, he performed for the American Guild of Organists National Convention (coincidentally here in Houston), under the direction of Dr. Brady Knapp.

Yuri and his wife, Aska Okamoto—whom he met while studying in Hawai'i—have a daughter, Riley.