Rome native Jillian Gardner was appointed Director of Music Ministries and organist for Huntsville First United Methodist Church in Huntsville, Ala.
Her responsibilities include overseeing the music department, consisting of 11 ensembles, choirs, and children’s music, while providing leadership of two adult choirs and serving as the choirmaster for two traditional services out of five total.
Gardner is an award-winning performing organist with an international touring schedule that spans the United Kingdom, Canada and the U.S. She is also the National Convener for the American Guild of Organists/Young Organists.
Gardner is a two-time first-prize winner of the chapter level competition of the Regional Competition for Young Organists (in Buffalo and Albany). In 2017, she took second prize in the Québec organ competition in Québec, Canada. She has also been a finalist in the Arthur Poister competition in Syracuse. In recognition of her achievements, The Diapason magazine selected Gardner as one of the inaugural “Top 20 under 30” organists in the nation.
Gardner has worn her signature pink organ shoes in concerts in venues including Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago, St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, and St. Thomas 5th Avenue in New York City.
She has dazzled listeners in the U.K. at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, St. Paul Cathedral in London, and St. Mary Redcliffe Church in Bristol, and she has been honored as featured artist for the Organ Historical Society Conventions in Syracuse (2014) and Minneapolis, Minn. (2017).
A graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory (bachelor’s degree: James David Christie) and Baylor University (master’s degree; Advanced Performer’s Certificate: Isabelle Demers), Gardner’s other teachers include Olivier Latry, Hank Knox and Hans-Ola Ericsson at the McGill Summer Organ Academy in Montréal. Outside the organ loft, Gardner advocates physical fitness, believing that a healthy mind and body contribute to artistic quality.