Make a joyful noise

Clarksville church welcomes all to sing and play in new music program

Men and women who miss singing in school choir, or who miss picking up a musical instrument: St. George’s United Methodist Church is looking for you.

The historic Clarksville church is expanding its music program. At the helm are longtime teachers and musicians Mark Marvel and his stepson, Eric Tsavdar.

“Eric and I are looking for people to come join us at St. George’s Church and just sing. And if you play an instrument, contact me,” Marvel said. “Some people, after they graduate high school, they don’t get to play or sing anymore.”

Sometimes community bands or choirs seem intimidating to someone who isn’t ready to commit to a full-scale concert group, or hasn’t played since school, Tsavdar said.

“Your average person who really enjoyed playing clarinet or singing in school feels out of their league.”

The pair are now offering the chance to play in a less-intimidating atmosphere.

Last year, Tsavdar became church’s choir director/pianist. Marvel recently joined him as music director. They hope to begin monthly performances in October. Marvel has already joined Tsavdar at several special services to show the congregation what they can do together, musically.

And the congregation benefits from these performances, led by two men who have created and collaborated for years, including in the local rock and party cover band Over Time.

“I’m excited to have Mark and Eric together and excited for the possibilities,” said the Rev. Blair Hall. “One of my beliefs is that the church is launching ground into different areas where people feel called, and I feel church is a place for people to come and use their talents.”

“He’s able to take a piece of music of a hymn … and arrange it for the musicians we have available,” said Tsavdar of Marvel.

Each week, Marvel will adjust the keys and harmonies to suit the singers and instruments.

For instance, the congregation loved a trumpet ensemble Marvel arranged. On another day, three generations of Marvel/Tsavdar men sang a trio of “Morning Has Broken,” a tune popularized by Cat Stevens.

“I would love to have a small wind ensemble — you know, flutes and clarinets and trumpets,” Marvel said.

They’re look forward to starting small and building a strong music program, they said. For instance, in his tenure as Indian River High School’s music director, Marvel saw the marching band grow from a few dozen students to 110. Now, Tsavdar is the Selbyville Middle School choir director and general music teacher.

St. George’s has been their family church for ages. Charles and Irene Marvel attended the church all their lives and raised Mark Marvel at St. George’s, and he brought Tsavdar there, too.

“This place means a lot to us,” Tsavdar said. “We care a lot about it. We care a lot about the people that go here.”

“We’ve got a young vibrant minister that adds to the service,” Charles Marvel said.

“Worship is not just for an hour on Sunday,” said Hall. Everyone responds to different aspects: prayer, sermons or music. And every part leads to a more well-rounded experience.

“I believe the church is a safe place for people to try out their gifts and talents. We want to give people that chance,” Hall said. “I’m excited.”

Rehearsals will be the first and third Mondays of each month. Performances will be on the third Sunday of each month. People of all ages are welcome, and participants don’t necessarily have to join the church, Marvel said. He noted that he also hopes to welcome touring musicians, or his own former students who now perform professionally.

“Come play a song with ‘Marv’ on Sunday mornings,” the teacher said, referencing the nickname bestowed on him by his students.

The church also features Marjorie Bradford as organist.

To participate or learn more about the new music program, call (302) 249-1799 or email

St. George’s United Methodist Church is located at 34281 Omar Road, Frankford, just off Route 26. For more information, call (302) 539-7491 or visit and or the church’s Facebook page.

The church itself has deep roots, as local Methodists first assembled in the late 1700s, outdoors and in private residences. The first church ground was purchased in the 1830s, and the current location was built in 1880, with major renovations in 1928.

Three services are offered each Sunday: 8:45 a.m. contemporary service; 10 a.m. Sunday school for all ages; and an 11 a.m. traditional service.


By Laura Walter

Staff Reporter