Artistic Director Emeritus
A Special Tribute
March 5, 2023 Tonight’s performance by the Kentucky Bach Choir marks the last concert of our esteemed artistic director, Marlon Hurst. As you probably know by now, Marlon has accepted the position of Music Director for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. While we're delighted in Marlon’s good news, we, the Board of Directors finds it hard to let go of someone who has given so much time, thought, and effort in developing our beloved Kentucky Bach Choir, Orchestra, and award-winning soloists.
Marlon was one of the initial charter members in the bass section during the first 2 years of the Choir’s existence under founding director Richard Sowers. When Marlon took over the reins in 2009, he created a vision that encompassed both the administrative and artistic mandates. He recruited a Board of Directors who supported and helped advance his vision. He chose dedicated board members who understood the daunting task of raising money and executing effective strategies that were true to the organization’s mission.
Marlon was our fearless leader who taught and inspired us at every turn. Now, 14 years hence (16 counting his first 2 years singing in the Bach Choir), you have navigated this sublime organization through many a challenging turn with purpose, resolve, enthusiasm, and, most of all, artistic excellence. We have presented with distinction all Bach motets, the St. John Passion, B-minor Mass, all 6 cantatas of the Christmas Oratorio, the Magnificat, many distinguished sacred cantatas and masterworks from other master composers like Handel, Brahms, Schuetz, Monteverdi, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Schubert, Rheinberger, Barber, CPE Bach, and (even) PDQ Bach. Occasionally, with PDQ and Bachtoberfest, we didn’t hesitate to strike the levity chord with tongue in cheek.
But, before we get carried away lauding Marlon’s accomplishments, we would like to dedicate a portion of our tribute to Marlon the person.
Many board members have worked with and sung under a variety of music directors and conductors, some with amazing musical talent, some with keen organizational skills, and others with great artistic vision. Marlon is all of this and more. His approach to his craft is deliberate, relational, comprehensive, scholarly, musical, holistic, artistic, liturgical, and acutely sensitive to singer’s needs, pedagogically and spiritually. A rare combination of gifts. A rare individual.
Although a formally trained trumpeter who possesses a beautiful singing voice, Marlon also has excellent keyboard skills and a thorough understanding of vocal pedagogy. He’s a consummate collaborator whose musical tastes are delightfully eclectic. We have marveled and depended on his keen ability to hear, model, and correct errant pitches, rhythms, and articulations. His prowess in liturgy, poetry, religion, performance practice, rock n’ roll and jazz are matched by his preeminent professionalism.
Did you make us laugh? Indubitably! Did you make us cry? Meaningfully. Did you inspire us? Constantly. Are we going to miss you and Kathi? Unequivocally.
So, we say “good-bye” for now, but not forever. We will forever say, “thank you, our dear and beloved friend and colleague.” Our gratitude for all you have done for the Kentucky Bach Choir – its board, singers, instrumentalists, donors, audience, and devotees – is immeasurable. We’re intentionally effusive in our praise of you because you have made an indelible mark on this organization and lovers of great music everywhere. You're fully genuine, graciously sincere, suitably prudent about what can be accomplished with hard work and integrity, and wonderfully zealous in your love of humanity, all creatures great and small and deserving.
On behalf of the Board of Directors, we thank you, Marlon, for all that you are, for all that you have given selflessly, artistically, and organizationally for the Kentucky Bach Choir and its wide circle of grateful friends. We are forever indebted to you for raising our sights and our standards beyond our wildest expectations, and leading us to a promised land we never imagined. -RS
Godspeed, Marlon and Kathi!
Soli Deo Gloria!