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Chancel Choir Director

Wilbert O. Watkins"What I treasure most about Pilgrim is that everyone is encouraged to be themselves, to realize their gift talents and to share those in the service of others. My vision for the music ministry is that we will continue to joyfully create an atmosphere that empowers us to make the most of our potential as ministers, as followers of Christ and as musicians as we make this pilgrimage together through the truths and experiences we encounter through our music making. This, for me, is the essence of worship – giving our best to God in all that we do."


Wilbert O. Watkins serves Pilgrim Congregational Church in many ways, including as deacon and Chancel Choir director. His work with the Chancel Choir maintains a focus on prayer support, multiculturalism, intelligibility, musical expressiveness and education. Dr. Watkins is the founding artistic director for a not-for-profit organization known as Sing to Live Community Chorus, which provides a musical outlet for women and men touched either directly or indirectly by breast cancer. He is also the artistic director for the Lutheran Choir of Chicago. His past Midwestern conducting experience has included the following: director of the mixed chorus Unison with the Windy City Performing Arts in Chicago, visiting assistant professor of music education at Northern Illinois University, adjunct faculty at De Paul University, Director of Choral Activities at Clarke College in Dubuque, Iowa, where he was the originator of a multi cultural choral series; and director of the Dubuque Area Men's Chorus. Having taught as both a choral music educator and an applied voice teacher in Texas, Florida, Iowa and Illinois, Dr. Watkins currently teaches voice at Pilgrim, and has been involved in several volunteer community efforts.

Watkins studied with Rodney Eichenberger and André Thomas at Florida State University, where he earned a Ph.D. in music education and conducting. His formal education has included theological seminary, and he has ministered to the congregations of several Christian denominations, for over twenty years. He has served as a clinician, adjudicator and guest conductor in the South and Midwest, in Puerto Rico and in the Orient. Watkins has also sung with the Oak Park Handel's Week ensemble, the Fort Worth Renaissance Consort, Schola Cantorum of Texas and the Ft. Worth and Dallas Opera choruses. He has guest lectured in music literacy, vocal diction and music education and his professional memberships include the American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, International Federation of Choral Music, Music Educators National Conference and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.

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