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 our Nichols & Simpson organ.

Our Organist

South Main's Organist, Dr. Yuri McCoy, is a recent graduate of 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 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 Vach 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 was "quite the ride." In 2016, he was honored to perform for the American Guild of Organists National Convention at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church 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". Many of Yuri's performances and recordings have been broadcast nationally on NPR's Pipedreams, and With Heart and Voice. He also posts organ videos regularly on his YouTube channel which involve everything from B-movie acting and special effects to claymation and slapstick. You can check out his performance of Iain Farrington's jazz setting of Every Time I Feel the Spirit here.  The registrations are meant to showcase the colorful and theatrical side of our Nichols and Simpson organ.

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, Aska Okamoto—whom he met while studying in Hawai'i—have two daughters, Riley and Olive.