Charles Tompkins

Charles Tompkins

Professor of Music, Organ and Music Theory; University Organist

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Charles Tompkins is recognized as one of America's most outstanding organ teachers and concert organists. A member of the Furman faculty since 1986, his students have gained admission to major graduate schools in organ performance - including Yale University, Indiana University, and Florida State University - and may be found in significant church and university positions throughout the country.

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music (University of Rochester) and the University of Michigan, Tompkins is an active recitalist, performing at prestigious venues in both the United States and abroad every year. Recent international engagements have included recitals at Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris and St. Paul's Cathedral, London. He has performed at national and regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians, the Music Teachers National Association, and the College Music Society. His performances have also been broadcast nationally on American Public Media's PIPEDREAMS radio program.

An active church musician throughout his career, Tompkins currently serves as Associate Organist and Artist in Residence for Christ Church (Episcopal) in Greenville. He has served as consultant for a number of outstanding organs, including Furman's magnifcent Hartness Organ, a 42-stop instrument by C.B. Fisk organ builders (Opus 121).


  • Performers Certificate, Eastman School of Music
  • Associated Colleges of the South/Mellon Faculty Renewal Grant for study and performance in France and Switzerland (2011)


  • D.M.A., Eastman School of Music
  • B.M., Eastman School of Music
  • M.M., University of Michigan
Training Under:
  • Russell Saunders (organ) and Lenora McCroskey (harpsichord), Eastman School of Music
  • Robert Glasgow (organ), University of Michigan


In my organ teaching, I seek to develop each student's technical and musical abilities to the fullest, and--in particular--to encourage each student's own unique musical personality to shine forth in their playing. Students in the Furman organ studio perform organ literature from all historical periods, and I seek to inculcate in their playing both stylistic faithfulness and strong musical communication. In addition to broad coverage of the historic organ literature, I also strongly emphasize practical service playing skills--hymn playing, choral and solo accompanying, improvisation, and conducting from the console--to prepare students for success in the area of church music. Each student receives a thorough grounding in organ design and construction, with an emphasis on developing the ability to comfortably perform on organs of many different styles and sizes.