November 14, 2020
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, announces the appointment of William Baker as Music Director for the downtown Lee’s Summit congregation that was founded in 1879. Dr. Baker joins a music staff that includes David Gardner, who has served the congregation as Organist since 2000, and Amy Chinnery-Valmassei, who resurrected the church’s handbell ensemble in 2008. Jennifer Lahasky of Belton, Missouri, has been appointed Associate Music Director.
William Baker is a native of Atlanta. He relocated to the Kansas City area in 1998 to become Music Director of The Village Church in Prairie Village, Kansas, where he served until 2001. He served as Music Director for the Faith Lutheran Church in Prairie Village for 8 years, and as Director of The Cathedral Chorale, the 8:00 service choir for Kansas City’s Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, from 2011 to 2017.
Dr. Baker is best known as the founder and music director of the semi-professional William Baker Festival Singers based in Kansas City. The 50-voice chorale has toured across the Midwest, Northeast and South, including performances in the Washington National Cathedral, Trinity Wall Street Church in New York City, and St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans. The Festival Singers have produced two dozen nationally released recordings and have been lauded in reviews in The Kansas City Star, The American Record Guide and other publications. William Baker studied American history and music at Mercer University and the University of Georgia, receiving the Doctor of Musical Arts from the American Conservatory in Chicago.
The St. Paul’s Episcopal Church has ambitious plans for music when gathering restrictions are lifted and when the Covid-19 crisis subsides. The St. Paul Ringers will continue their work under the leadership of Amy Chinnery-Valmassei, including performances this Christmas season for the Festival of Lights at Powell Gardens.
The St. Paul Choir will lead music at the weekly Sunday services and will present 2-3 masterworks concerts with orchestra and soloists for the general public during the course of the year. Upcoming plans include a performance of Bach Cantatas No 4 & 56 during the Easter season of 2021 if the pandemic begins to subside, a patriotic celebration in July featuring Randal Thompson’s The Testament of Freedom, and a sing-along performance of Handel’s Messiah with soloists and orchestra in December.
A new ensemble, St. Paul A Cappella, is being formed as a part of the congregation’s music ministry. It will be an auditioned chamber choir of 8-12 voices that will specialize in early music and lesser known early American works and spirituals. St. Paul A Cappella will perform both in the church and the community.
Members of the community, no matter church affiliation or background, are invited to be a part of the growing music ministry of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. For information, call 913-488-7524 or email Music@StPaulsLS.org.