On February 3, an emotional concert in celebration of Greg Underwood was held at Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church, where Greg served as accompanist and then Music Director for more than a decade. The celebration began with a performance by the Spirit Ringers of Spirit of Joy Lutheran Church—an ensemble that Greg established in 2003 by raising the money to purchase handbells and then training the musicians. The handbell choir performed a work that Greg composed for them that won a composition award from the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers. Later in the program, the Queen City Ringers performed a Change Ring Prelude on “Divinum Mysterium,” which Greg recorded with them as a member of that ensemble.
The last handbell choir to perform was the Charlotte Bronze Handbell Ensemble, which performed “Meditation on Beautiful Savior.” The work was originally commissioned by the handbell choir of the First Congregational Church of Elyria, Ohio, to celebrate a choir member who had died of cancer. Greg rang “Meditation on Beautiful Savior” with the Charlotte Bronze Handbell Ensemble when one of their members passed away. The ensemble returned the favor by performing the same work as a tribute to Greg.
Also featured in the celebration was the Spirit of Joy Worship Choir, which Greg once led, joined by members of the Morning Star Lutheran Church. The choir performed an arrangement of “Jesus Loves Me,” conducted by Lisa Watts, who was Greg’s collaborator as the inaugural Music Director at Spirit of Joy. Ms. Watts later joined Chris Mauney in singing “The Prayer.” The choir also performed “Mercy” and “Save In the Cross of Jesus,” and led the congregants in a spirited performance of “Days of Elijah.”
UNC Charlotte was well represented in the celebration. Emeritus professor Jeff Price and our own Jacquie Yost performed “Wondrous Love” and Rene Clausen’s “The Greatest of These is Love,” a work that Greg himself performed many times. Between these two selections, Dr. Yost performed her meditation on “Shenandoah” at the request of Greg’s mother. Greg had played an arrangement of that same song at his father’s funeral. Our piano technician Robert Parker, who is also a member and piano technician at Spirit of Joy, performed an improvisation specifically for Greg.
The event was a fitting tribute to an exceptional musician and friend. If you would like to help us continue to honor Greg’s legacy for generations to come, please consider making a contribution to the Greg Underwood Music Scholarship.