Director of Music Ministry and Organist
Preston Smith was named Music Director at Ascension Church in January 2007, having also served as interim for a brief time in 2006. In his position he conducts a semi-professional adult choir of approximately 20 singers from Manhattan and beyond and plays over 150 masses each year, not including weddings, funerals, memorial services, Advent and Christmas programs, occasional Vespers, and ceremonies for Ascension School. In addition to his work at Ascension, Preston is a pianist, private teacher, freelance accompanist for Broadway and opera singers, and tv/film/stage actor. He debuted at Carnegie Hall in October 2013, playing solo piano works of Liszt and Poulenc.
Preston moved to New York in 2003 to be Associate Director of Music and Director of Choristers at St. Bartholomew’s Church, Park Avenue, where he ran a distinguished Chorister program of 30 middleschoolers and worked with a staff of four organists. His choristers recorded, sang weekly at Saint Bart’s services, toured, and performed at Washington National Cathedral. Also they were chosen as the opera chorus for the Liederkranz Foundation’s productions of
Hansel and Gretel.
Each Sunday at 6:30 a.m. on ABC Family Channel, Preston can be seen and heard playing organ and piano for “The Sunday Mass,” sponsored by the Passionist Community, previously recorded at St. Francis de Sales, East 96th Street, and then weekly televised to international audiences. A former board member and publicist for the NYC chapter of the AGO (American Guild of Organists), he has worked for St. Paul’s Chapel at Columbia University and for New York University’s voice department.
Prior to New York, Preston served prominent churches and universities in South Carolina, New Jersey, and Florida. (He began playing worship services at age 12.) In Charleston, SC, he coordinated the Piccolo Spoleto Festival of Churches, played piano and celesta with the percussion section of the Charleston Symphony, and worked with the Charleston Children’s Chorus. In Tampa, FL, he was Sub-Dean and Dean of the local AGO chapter, pianist for Opera Tampa, and theory instructor at University of Tampa.
A South Carolina native, Preston finished Furman University (Piano-Dr. Ruby Morgan; Organ-Dr. Lindsay Smith; Conducting and Church Music-Dr. Bingham Vick), University of South Carolina (OrganDr. William Bates and Susan Moeser; Conducting-Dr. Larry Wyatt), and Princeton’s Westminster Choir College (Organ-Dr. Donald McDonald and Eugene Roan; Conducting and Church Music-Dr. Steve Pilkington). His New York teacher was the late McNeil Robinson of Manhattan School of Music. Preston has concertized in London and Oxford, England, Miami, Atlanta, Charleston, and the major churches of New York, has played and taught at conventions of the AGO and AAM (Association of Anglican Musicians), and has conducted choirs at Washington National Cathedral, Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and Church of St. Mary the Virgin.
Preston has performed for Oprah Winfrey, Miss Black America, Star Jones of “The View,” Hillary Clinton, the Walter Cronkite family, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, NBC’s Today Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, “Sounds of the Holidays” for Fox television, New York’s Oxford University Society, Steinway Hall, Town Hall, The Plaza and Pierre Hotels, The Princeton Club, Metropolitan Club, Birdland Jazz Club, and shared the stage with pop icon Patti LaBelle. Other tv credits include Inside Edition, NBC Nightly News, a wedding episode in syndication for Bravo television, acting roles for Investigation Discovery, Lifetime, Animal Planet, Travel, and A & E networks, plus commercial and film work. He was recently accepted into TAPNYC (The Actor’s Project) which presents quarterly off-Broadway showcases of its 75 auditioned members.
-updated 10 June 2015