Warmest Greetings, Congregation of St. Andrew’s!
While many of you have heard me say this by now, I must say once again that I am thrilled to be serving the St. Andrew’s community as music director. Those of you whom I have already met have been so welcoming, and I can’t wait to meet the rest of you!
I wish to take this opportunity to formally introduce myself and share my vision of what I hope to accomplish at St. Andrew’s.
I will be entering my Junior year this Fall at the Wells School of Music at West Chester University, studying piano, organ, and voice. I started with piano lessons at age 8 and later as a teenager, when I joined my church choir, I was inspired to study organ and voice as well. I went on to accompany choirs and lead one of my own, and now I am here to serve you. My musical journey, however, began long before I was even capable of appreciating it. Allow me to elaborate upon this, for my personal story is the best way in which I can acquaint you with the full purpose and meaning of my musical vocation.
Having grown up in a musical extended family, with a grandmother and four aunts who played harp for weddings and funerals every other weekend, and a grandfather who played Brahms on the piano and whose great pleasure was sitting down to devote his whole ear to a Beethoven symphony — I didn’t appreciate the extraordinary talent that surrounded me. It seemed to me that classical music was par for the course, and I didn’t pay attention to its impact and full value; like a child who has always known the warm comfort of its mother’s embrace.
Isn’t it true, however, that that child, once grown into an adult and off in the world, will in the most unexpected moment remember that motherly presence from years past and ironically feel the impact more fully than as a child?
This is what I experienced with music. Although I wasn’t yet an adult when I realized my appreciation, I was reaching that age when children question who they are, and what makes their identity special. I was that cute eight year old of the 2010’s who found my meaning in sparkly headbands and bubble gum. Like any normal child I was content and happy with these ordinary things, and Beethoven symphonies were certainly not on my mind. It was anything but appealing to me when one Sunday my grandfather beckoned me to sit with him in his weekly symphonic exploration of Beethoven. So with a slight moan of dread I sat down to an experience so strange, so different from my ordinary menu of Taylor Swift, not ready to grapple. Or so I thought.
Those fifty minutes of listening surely were full of fidgeting, and a great challenge for my eight year old self. However, a week later in the midst of a chore, I started humming a mysterious tune I really enjoyed, and was startled to realize later that it was the theme from the Beethoven symphony! I told my parents soon after that I wanted to take piano lessons, and started that Fall.
This was so impactful for me because, through that symphony, a desire surfaced that I didn’t even know I had. It was an awakening to something already familiar. It was the surprise that, what made me the individual I was in the most genuine way, was how I was connected communally to everyone else in my family by this music. And that it wasn’t enough that this musical heritage had formed me, I needed that moment of conscious appreciation to really own it, to own it as an individual. Of course I couldn’t articulate these things at the time but I could feel them deeply.
Perhaps I address you now in an excess of metaphor and paradox at the risk of sounding, humorously, more like a philosopher than a music director. :) But here I come to the point: that music itself is a metaphor for the human spiritual experience. The awakening I had to the beauty and meaning of music, the spontaneous and pure movement of my heart towards this beauty, the realization of how it connected me to those around me— these same principles are true for the human awakening to the love of Christ and His power to connect us and lift us up. They are at the heart of what it means to be truly converted.
And that is why I believe music has extraordinary spiritual power, and that because of this, music is serving its most glorious function when it is used in the liturgy. This belief motivates me to serve St. Andrew’s. I wish to use the beauty and formative power of music to inspire love, faith, and devotion in the congregation, and strengthen the sense of unity.
Driven by these aims, I am excited to be impacting the future of St. Andrew’s music. I am thrilled to be providing music for your weekly services and Holy Days, working with the choir, bringing back the children’s choir, hosting recitals to deepen the congregation’s musical knowledge and appreciation, and most importantly building church community through this music.
Feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions, suggestions, or just to introduce yourself! You can reach me through my cell (610-674-3798) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Your Music Director,