World-renowned conductor and composer to visit Columbia

Friday, January 20, 2012 | 1:53 p.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Paul Leddington Wright is a triple threat — a world-renowned organist, conductor and composer from England.

This weekend, Memorial Baptist Church will host him at their choral festival, which culminates with a concert Sunday night.

"He's really at the top of the food chain, or the musical ladder, in both conducting and arranging," said Randy Schilb, the church's minister of music.

Currently the principal conductor of BBC's program "Songs of Praise," Wright first came to Columbia in 2007, when he spent an evening preparing the Memorial Baptist choir for the International Church Music Festival. Wright serves as artistic director for that festival, which was held in Bern, Switzerland, that year.

The choir also attended the festival in 2009 in Rome, and talked to Wright about coming to Columbia for a longer stay.

Wright frequently tours the U.S. in the winter, either for organ recitals or to direct his original choral music, Schilb said.

The six choral pieces that will be performed Sunday include Wright's originals and his arrangements of hymns from the English Protestant tradition. In addition to the choral music, the congregation will be invited to sing several English hymns. 

The concert starts at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, and is free and open to the public.

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