After a busy, purposeful, and sometimes surprised filled two-month process, the Interim Music Director (IMD) Search Team identified, and the Worship and Music Committee affirmed, the selection of Benjamin A. Rogers to fill the position vacated by Heidi Blythe when she stepped down in early June. Benjamin starts his tenure with us on August 20th and will serve through the interim period during which we worship and make music together virtually, and technology skills are paramount. When that period is considered over and we return to a more traditional Music Director role, Benjamin is invited to be considered.
Benjamin is a remarkably talented young man. He earned his Bachelor of Music Education with a minor in Music Business from Western Illinois University and brings four years of experience as an Arts Media Specialist, working both with sound engineering and video production. These are skills that are essential during the interim period of on-line worship and music making that we are in now. Benjamin currently teaches middle school choir in Spanaway WA and has been choir director at First Presbyterian Church in Puyallup. He is an instrumentalist as well as a vocalist, sings baritone with Sound City Singers here in Seattle, has sung in numerous operas, and been the baritone soloist in many concerts and recitals. Our Chancel Choir members who worked with Benjamin for about 75 minutes during the selection process, were impressed with his enthusiasm, energy, and the preparation he obviously invested into meeting them at a Zoom rehearsal. And he has a deeply Christian grounding, bringing joy and spirit to everything he takes on. “We are confident Benjamin will fulfill the duties of the position in remarkable ways and lead our Music Ministry forward through this exceptional interim period,” said Rose Morrison, co-lead of the Search Team.
Search Team members held two listening sessions with the Choir and one with the congregation to gather input on essential qualities of the IMD. They reviewed the submission materials of 10 qualified applicants, interviewed five of them, then narrowed the list to three. The three finalists each spent a week with the choir and our worship staff helping to plan a worship service and creating an original virtual music file. Special thanks to all who were a part of this process including the 30 members of ‘virtual choir’ that worked with the candidates, worship staff, clergy liaison Amy Roon, and the search team members: Rachel Brackett, Tim Johnson, Alan Klockars, Yale Lewis, Kay Murakami, Nadine Santo Pietro, Carter Schafer, Carol Scott Kassner, Christy Watson and co-leads Rose Morrison and Betty Spieth-Croll. Let the music begin!