2023 Island Concert Series on St. Simons

One of the things we really enjoy about being on St. Simons Island in the winter is the February Island Concert Series.  I attended three out of the four concerts in February and enjoyed the variety.

The Island Concert Series is held in the St. Simons Presbyterian Church.  2023 was the 39th year for the series, so it is obviously something that gets a lot of support on the island.  Attendance at the series is very good and the sanctuary is usually full well before the concerts start.  Our first year on the island, we found out we needed to arrive a good 30 minutes before the start if we wanted to be anywhere close to the front.

We last attended the Island Concert Series in 2020, which was held just before Covid-19 shut everything down.  In 2021, the concert series was streamed, with the featured artists performing from their home areas.  The series returned to live concerts in 2022, but Tom and I were still avoiding crowds at that point and didn’t attend.  We were able to watch the concerts online.  This year the concerts continued online, but we also attended the ones we wanted to see in person.

Kayla Williams

The first concert we attended featured violist Kayla Williams and her accompanist, Chris McCarthy.  I was excited to attend because there are very few solo violists.  My sister, Julia, plays the viola and she is the only other person I have ever heard play a solo.  Kayla is also black, which makes her more of an oddity in classical music.  She uses her viola as a platform to promote music accessibility to people of all backgrounds.  Her concert was entirely classical, with arrangements borrowed from other instruments because there are few solos written for the viola.  If you would like to see her perform, you can watch this video.

The second concert we attended was the Seipp/Sheets duo.  The duo features trumpet player Chuck Seipp and organist Randall Sheets.  Most of the artists in the Island Concert Series are young, but Chuck and Randall are both semi-retired.  Chuck was a Sergeant Major who spent most of his army career playing in the United States Army Band.  Since his retirement, he has been a professor of trumpet at various universities but he is primarily a performer.

Chuck Seipp

Randall has been a church musician for 29 years.  He started playing with Chuck at funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery.  They used and mix of video and music to paint sound pictures for the audience.  Our favorite piece in the concert was the Carnival of Venice where Chuck played all six of his trumpets in different styles.  You can see him perform the piece here with the Army Band.  We really enjoyed their blend of humor and musicianship and it was our favorite concert in this year’s series.

I attended the final concert by myself.  Tom had oral surgery earlier in the day, so he stayed home to rest, ice, and take his meds.  Because he was doing so well, I decided to attend the ARKAI duo concert.  ARKAI is an electroacoustic duo that plays a blend of new-age and hip-hop music of their own composition.  The “duo” is composed of violinist Jonathan Miron, cellist Philip Sheegog, and percussionist Jeremy Smith.  They all met while they were students at Julliard.  Although they are classically trained, they are pushing the limits of what their instruments can do together.  Although I enjoyed a couple of their pieces, I missed the classical elements that most of the concerts have.  This video is a good example of their music.


Tom and I really enjoy this series every year.  We like seeing the community support and appreciate that the concerts are free.  We were glad to be able to attend in person again this year.  The 2023 Island Concert Series was another excellent year.