Music Staff
  Randall Swanson
Director of Music

Randall received degrees in organ and church music from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin (Bachelor of Music, cum laude), the University of North Texas in Denton (Master of Music), and Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois (Doctor of Music).  

Prior to joining us at St. Philip, Randall served Presbyterian, Lutheran, Catholic, and Episcopal churches in Wisconsin, Chicago, and Virginia, including Holy Name Cathedral and Saint Clement Church in Chicago (where his annual productions of Handel’s complete Messiah with period instruments were highlights of the Chicago concert season for over two decades), and historic Trinity Church (Episcopal, founded in 1746) in Staunton, Virginia, during which time he also served as Executive Director of the Oratorio Society of Virginia, based in Charlottesville.

He has trained and conducted choirs for services and concerts in many of the great monuments of Christendom, including St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Chartres Cathedral, and St. Sernin Basilica in Toulouse for the highly prestigious Toulouse les Orgue Festival International. His CD recording as conductor of Mozart’s Requiem was released world-wide on the Amadis label and heard in the critically acclaimed film Happiness, and he is featured as organist on The Last Song of Summer, a CD of music for organ and cello released on the Dorian classical label. Randall’s CD and concert recordings have been featured on public radio and classical music stations throughout North America, including several American Public Media Pipedreams
® programs.
  Randall Swanson grew up in southeastern
Wisconsin, and joined the St. Philip music staff in the summer of 2016. Randall plays the 9:00am Sunday service, directs the St. Philip Choir, Youth Choir, and Bell Canto handbell choir, and coordinates the annual St. Philip Concert Series.
  Matthew Dirst

He was closely involved in the commissioning
of the Fritts organ and Phillips harpsichord and
is immensely grateful to serve in a church where music is so highly valued.

The first American to win major international prizes in both organ and harpsichord, Matthew
is also Professor of Music at the Moores School
of Music, University of Houston, where he teaches courses in music history and performance practice, and Artistic Director
of the Grammy-nominated early music ensemble Ars Lyrica Houston.  

His degrees include a PhD in musicology
from Stanford University and degrees in
organ and sacred music from the University
of Illinois and Southern Methodist University.
A Fulbright scholar to France, he received
the coveted prix de virtuosité in both organ and harpsichord.

The author of numerous articles on the
music of Bach and its reception, Matthew
is the author of Engaging Bach: The Keyboard Legacy from Marpurg to Mendelssohn
(Cambridge University Press, 2012). 
  Organist Matthew Dirst, who joined the St. Philip music staff in 1997, plays the 11 am Sunday service, accompanies the St. Philip Choir, and has served
St. Philip in numerous other capacities over the years, including two periods as interim choirmaster.
  John Joseph
“JJ” Mitchell

Organ Intern

JJ holds degrees from Westminster Choir College and the University of Notre Dame. He also studied at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Toulouse (France).

Recently awarded second prize in the 51st Annual William C. Hall Pipe Organ Competition’s Graduate Division, John Joseph “JJ” Mitchell is an organist from Arlington, Virginia. He lives in Houston where he pursues a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Organ Performance from the University of Houston (UH); is Director of Music of Christ the Servant Lutheran Church; is an organist at St. Philip Presbyterian Church; and is a teaching assistant in the UH Music History Department.


JJ was an organ scholar at Christ Church Cathedral (Houston, TX) and the Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Notre Dame, IN). He has performed in the United States, Canada, France, and England. JJ was the winner of the Nanovic Grant for European Study for Professional Development and was a finalist for the Frank Huntington Beebe Grant.

He has been published in the Vox Humana Organ Journal and was a featured guest on the "Sounds from the Spires" SiriusXM Radio program in New York. In 2021, JJ was named to Diapason magazine’s Class of “20 Under 30.”

  John Joseph “JJ” Mitchell is originally from Arlington, Virginia. JJ is pursuing a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Organ Performance from the University of Houston, and also serves as Organ Scholar of Christ Church Cathedral downtown.

St. Philip is a member of the Presbyterian Church - USA
4807 San Felipe Street, Houston, TX 77056 - Ph. (713) 622-4807