So. I was born and raised in Tyler, Minnesota, which is in the southwestern part of the state. Tyler is the home of Aebelskiever Days, and at a population of around 1,200 people, it is the largest town in Lincoln County, one of very few counties in all of Minnesota without a stoplight. Yes, no stoplight. Unless you count the one at the gas station car wash; most people don’t. My folks started me on organ lessons when I was six years old, with the probable intent of my eventual making music in my hometown parish church, St. Dionysius in Tyler, Minnesota. I started playing there, for stations of the cross, when I was 11, and started playing for masses shortly after that. I also played the trombone and sang throughout high school.
At Harvard University as an undergrad, I was active in the men’s chorus, The Harvard Glee Club and the Catholic Student Association Choir and several other theatrical shows and other musical tidbits. I began seriously writing music about this time, after taking a few classes and realizing I had at least some ability in the area. After 4 years at Harvard (AB in Music and Folklore and Mythology) and 2 at Radford University (MA in Music, Choral Conducting), I almost immediately moved to the St. Louis area and began at the National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows as Coordinator of Music and Liturgy. After 14 years there, in 2012 I took a new position as Director of Music Ministries at Sts. Joachim and Ann Parish in St. Peters, MO. Ten years later, in 2022, I became the Director of Music and Liturgy at St. Margaret of Scotland Parish in St. Louis.
I’ve written quite a lot of sacred music in quite a lot of styles since coming to town in 1998, and some of it continues to be recorded and published by GIA Publications, World Library Publications, and Oregon Catholic Press. A lot of my music is congregational, but I’ve also written some strictly choral pieces, and some solo pieces as well. A list of these publications (and recordings) can be seen here. My most recent significant project was a musical I co-wrote titled “Just Pretend” with my friend Bradley J. Behrmann which was premiered at Youth Sing Praise in the summer of 2015.
In December of 2000, I met Erin Hammond. To make a long story ridiculously short, we married on November 27, 2004, and live in Saint Louis. Erin is the Coordinator of Development (and formerly Registrar) at Aquinas Institute of Theology, where she is both beautiful and funny.
Beyond Erin and ministry at Joachim and Ann, I also enjoy singing with the St. Louis Chamber Chorus and serving as their Assistant Conductor. I’ve sung with the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, Pro-Arte St. Louis, and the St. Louis Archdiocesan Chorus as well. I’m accompanist for services at Congregation Shaare Emeth in West County St. Louis. I also play a lot of music around town for occasional musicals, concerts, masses (at Chaminade College Prep, for instance), weddings and the like. I do some graphic design work for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, some website design, keep a small Apple museum on the third floor, and I often help at Catholic summer camps (like Youth Sing Praise, One Bread, One Cup, and — in past years — Young Neighbors in Action) in music and prayer roles as well.
After a few previous years of a more informal existence, in 2004 my friend Shannon Cerneka and I officially formed the music and witnessing duo Oddwalk Ministries – visit our site for more info on Oddwalk’s life of “Jesus, Justice, Joy” and for a lot of recent music, pictures, video, and more.
I also earned another masters degree, this one in theology, from Aquinas Institute of Theology in St. Louis, in 2008. Not only has this impacted my music making, but in recent years, the written word has become a more significant part of my life, with a recent publication of a book of teen prayer services written with my friend Shannon and varied contributions to the Living Liturgy sourcebook from Liturgical Press. My first solo work as an author, “Incarnate in Word and Song,” is due out from LitPress in Spring 2023. More info on my books is available here.
Still, it is making music and writing music – especially music of faith – that is a real outlet for me, a chance to express myself in what I feel is a deep and unique way; a chance to express thoughts, feelings, and beliefs that words and actions might not be able to so well.
I hope I get a chance to meet you and share my music and writings with you someday soon!
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