By Martha Nodar

The Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip in Buckhead opens its doors to the 15th season of the Atlanta Summer Organ Festival on June 17.

Two other concerts will follow: at the Catholic Cathedral of Christ the King on June 24 and at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church on July 29. The three churches take annual turns opening the festival.

Robert McCormick, a Georgia native and the music director at St. Paul Episcopal Parish in Washington, D.C., will open the 2009 season at St. Philip.

“I play organ music of all types,” he said. “And yet, I have a particular bias toward French music, which should work very well on the Cathedral of St. Philip’s organ.”

McCormick said he is excited to include the works of Pierre Cochereau, “who was the organist of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris for almost 30 years.”

Tim Gunter, St. Philip’s coordinator for music, said the cathedral’s organ is “eclectic in many ways, and it does have certain features that lend very well to playing French music.”

Hamilton Smith, the music director of the Cathedral of Christ the King, said Tim Wissler, Christ the King’s organist and director of the children’s choir, came up with the idea of having an annual organ concert in Atlanta during the summer, when “there are not that many concerts competing for an audience.”

“We try to appeal and make it accessible to a wide audience,” Smith said. “The acoustic in St. Philip is excellent. French music in particular is very exciting, and it explores the widest range of tonal colors of a large pipe organ, such as the one at St. Philip.”

Meredyth Leaptrot, a member of St. Bartholomew Episcopal Church, has attended many concerts at the Cathedral of St. Philip.

“The high quality of any performance at St. Philip, the ambience of the magnificent cathedral and the reasonable price of admission make for a wonderful time,” she said.

Smith said each concert begins at 7:30 p.m., will last no longer than an hour and will conclude with a dessert reception.

David Fishburn, St. Philip’s associate organist and choirmaster, said: “We invite the community to come and join us for a lovely summer evening.”

Tickets to each concert are $10 and are available at the door.