Organist and Director of Music, Saint John United Methodist Church, Augusta

 Jamie Council Garvey has served as Organist and Director of Music at St. John United Methodist Church of Augusta, Georgia since 1980. Under her leadership, the youth and adult choirs of St. John have enjoyed numerous performing tours and have performed major works by Bach, Brahms, Handel, Haydn, Durufle, Faure, Bruckner, Distler and Rutter. She has prepared choruses for several prominent choral conductors, including John Rutter, Joseph Flummerfelt, Alice Parker, Mack Wilberg, Ann Jones, John Ferguson, Henry Leck, Eric Nelson, Brad Holmes and Andre Thomas. In 1997 the St. John Choir, together with the Church of the Good Shepherd Choir of Augusta, sang services for a week as choir in residence at Westminster Abbey. In 2001 she led the St. John Choir in a performing tour of Scotland and northern England.

At St. John, Ms. Garvey created and taught for Kindermusik of Augusta.  In 2003, she created Concerts with a Cause, a concert series featuring internationally prominent artists and regional musicians. The series has donated thousands of dollars to charitable organizations in the Augusta area.

In addition to her work at St. John, Ms. Garvey has served as Assistant Conductor and accompanist of the Augusta Choral Society, Chorus Master of the Augusta Opera Company, Director of Choral Activities at Augusta College, and Music Director for the Ft. Gordon Performing Arts Theatre and the Augusta Players. She has taught humanities classes at Augusta University and movement classes for their summer opera initiative.

Ms. Garvey is a recipient of the CSRA Girl Scouts’ Women of Excellence Award and the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s Arts Professional Award. She has served on the advisory board for Music at the Morris at the Morris Museum of Art, and she is an active member of and has served as Convener for the state of Georgia, The American Guild of Organists. She is a graduate of Leadership Augusta and served on their board of directors for several classes. She also served on the board of directors for the Greater Augusta Arts Council and on the advisory board that founded The Jessye Norman School of the Arts. She is a certified teacher of Shake Your Soul: The Yoga of Dance.

Ms. Garvey holds BM and MM degrees in Organ Performance from Meredith College (Raleigh, N.C.) and The University of Alabama, were she studied organ with Arthur Poister, David Lynch, and Warren Hutton. She has done additional study in choral music at the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College, and the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music.

She is married to writer Jim Garvey, professor emeritus Augusta University.



With a Bachelor’s degree in Opera Performance from The Hartt School, at The University of Hartford in Connecticut and a Master’s degree in Music Education from Jacksonville State University in Jacksonville, Alabama, Laurie Orth is an experienced music educator, choir director and performer.  She has been a member of the Pittsburgh Opera Chorus and was a young artist at Virginia Opera and Chautauqua Opera. Ms. Orth was a regional finalist in the Metropolitan Opera’s Young Artist Competition.  She has held teaching positions in private schools and has been an adult and children’s choir director in several churches throughout her professional career.  Spring 2018 completed Laurie’s sixth year teaching general music and chorus to the home school community in the Augusta area.  Summer 2017, Laurie taught music classes at The Kroc Center’s Summer Camp and she was a faculty member of St. John UMC’s Choir Camp.  She sings with the Augusta Choral Society and with the Augusta Symphony Chorus. Laurie actively participates in the St. John UMC’s Chancel Choir.   She volunteers as Team Assistant for her son’s Cyberpatriot team at Augusta Christian School and enjoys community service projects with the Augusta Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution. This year she celebrates her 25th wedding anniversary to her husband John, and they have two sons, Dylan, in college, and Emmitt, in high school.



Jean Lancaster has been Director of Choral Studies at Evans High School for over 20 years, leading her choirs in many highly acclaimed performances and proudly watching many of her former students become music educators themselves. Ms. Lancaster earned her Bachelor of Music Education Degree from Shorter College and a Master of Music Degree in Choral Conducting from Arizona State University. Her studies include Level I and II Orff Training, two years of training in Movement in Education with Phyllis Weikart in affiliation with the High Scope Foundation, Certification in Technology in Music Education through Georgia Southern University, Graduate work at Westminster Choir College in the Robert Shaw Workshop and advanced level training in guitar pedagogy through the National Guitar Workshops in affiliation with Vandercook College of Music. When not involved in music, Ms. Lancaster enjoys cooking and reading great books.



M. Sawyer Branham has attended Westminster Choir College and Augusta University, where she studied Vocal Performance and Vocal Pedagogy. She has been an active member at St John UMC for seven years as a member of the Chancel Choir. As a founding member and assistant director of The Lucia Ensemble, a young women’s ensemble, Sawyer has performed at the world-renowned Spoleto Festival for the last six years. Sawyer has experience as a makeup artist, wig and hair stylist, prop designer, and costumer.
Ms. Branham regularly performs with Storyland Theater, The Augusta Choral Society and the Augusta Opera Institute, where she has worked as a performer and Assistant Director. Ms. Branham has conducted children and adult choirs in local churches and has experience teaching and coaching both young singers and dancers.