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Music

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Mission

For those of you coming straight to this part of the website, you probably know me through my recent appointment as Kantor at the historic Bryn Church or perhaps through recent concerts with the Bærum Bach Choir here in Norway, but music became my “third parent” thirty years ago on an entirely different continent!

Vision

My first memory is of sitting at the piano with my dad where he taught me to play nursery songs while my mom cooked in the kitchen in the next room. 

 

My love of music grew through the southern gospel tradition I grew up with in the rural south, but in high school I was introduced to Bach’s keyboard music for the first time and immediately fell in love.

Mission

My love of Bach took me to a university music program, where my life was changed again when I heard a pipe organ for the first time, felt the vibrations in the pew beneath me, and felt the music going through my body. Something unexplainable resonated deeply with soul, and I decided-or perhaps compelled-to dedicate my time and energy to the innate beauty of organ music.

Vision

In graduate school at the Cleveland Institute of Music, I served at a Lutheran church with an organ perfect for the music of Bach, and I gave what I consider to be my first professional concert almost fifteen years ago, performing Bach’s massive Clavierubung III to a standing-room only church for Reformation.

Mission

The  support that special parish gave me as a young musician fostered my love and devotion to Bach’s music. And although I would go on to perform music by other composers at cathedrals and churches around the U.S. and Europe, including the complete works of Mendelssohn, Brahms, and Schumann, I always came back to the music of Bach: music that flows through my soul as it teaches us deep truths about life, human nature, emotions, love, and death.

Vision

While completing my Doctorate of Musical Arts at the University of Houston, I was named a Bach Scholar and spent six months abroad as an exchange student at the University of Leipzig, where I frequented services at Thomaskirche, where Bach spent the last 27 years of his life. I even got to play a parish church organ that Bach himself gave a recital on, and I practiced every morning on a beautiful organ that Felix Mendelssohn knew!

Mission

After returning to Houston, I founded and was Artistic Director of Houston Baroque, which recorded two commercial albums: My Soul Sees & Hears!: Music of Handel & Buxtehude and Rheinberger: Music for Voice & Organ. The success of Houston Baroque allowed me the privilege of performing Bach, both as a concerto soloist and continuo player, with groups like Ars Lyrica Houston, Bach Society Houston, Austin Baroque, American Bach Soloists Academy, Victoria Symphony, Texas Music Festival, Piccolo Spoleto Festival, East Texas Pipe Organ Festival, and others.

Vision

I was lucky enough to have all sorts of honors come my way: articles in The American Organist and The Organists Review, named one of The Diapason's "20 Under 30" up and coming organists, second place and hymn price at the Hall Pipe Organ Competition, and one of seven semifinalists in the National Young Artist Competition in Organ Performance.

Mission

At the same time, I also led a comprehensive Anglican choral program including Morning Services, Evensong, and concerts of major choral works.

Mission

Needless to say, with all those opportunities, I had too much on my plate and experienced burnout from being a professional musician.

In 2017, even though I was on the short list for a major church position outside Los Angeles, was named a prestigious Artist Diploma candidate at Southern Methodist University, and had concert bookings four years in advance including at St. Patrick's Cathedral (NYC), St. Philip's Cathedral (Atlanta), and Notre Dame and La Madeleine (Paris), I walked away from it all.

 

For five years, I took a sabbatical from music in order to explore big questions about society, human nature, and the meaning of life through ways other than music.

 

I earned a graduate degree in social work and worked in policy advocacy, as a school counselor, and as a career coach. I traveled around the world and my YouTube travel vlogs have been viewed over one million times. I moved to Norway and found peace in nature. And I wrote a book of daily reflections, Becoming Who You Truly Are, and started a podcast by the same name.

Vision

However, music’s ability to comfort, heal, and sustain eventually drew me back in, this time with renewed energy and perspective, and from April 2024 I am honored to be Kantor at the iconic Bryn Kirke in Bærum, Norway, where I am deeply fulfilled to be making music in a beautiful church with an organ perfect for the music of Bach, surrounded by the souls of saints in the historic graveyard, with beautiful mountains and valleys nearby.

Mission

Bryn Kirke is a sacred place that has room for breath, room for body, room for thoughts, and room for the soul to roam about freely. 

 

And it is at Bryn that I hope to be in fellowship with a community of people so that we can come together to reflect and contemplate through music and prayer and then go out into the world with more room within ourselves to be open and excited and creative and in love with life!

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