Shook takes up mentor's music ministry

Just Folks

Just Folks

January 08, 2009|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN -- As the changing of the guard takes place in the music ministry at Trinity Lutheran Church in Hagerstown, two old friends have crossed paths once again.

In November, Greg Shook, 52, became the minister of music at the church on Randolph Avenue, just in time to help celebrate its 100th year.

Shook follows Clair Johannsen, who served Trinity for more than 44 years before retiring as director of worship and music last year.

At Trinity, Johannsen directed the adult and children's choirs, played organ at all services, organized the acolytes, and played for weddings and funerals.


Shook will continue those duties as well as his long association with Johannsen.

"Back in 1974, Clair asked me to play oboe for the St. Cecelia Choral Society ... I was a senior in high school then," Shook said, pointing out it was his first real job as a musician.

Johannsen was one of Shook's first organ teachers. As a child, Shook said, he often accompanied his parents to hear Johannsen play the organ at Trinity.

Most important, Shook said, was another precious gift that Johannsen gave him through the years. "Clair taught me to be pastoral in my music. I picked up on that and it was a great gift," he said.

Johannsen said being pastoral in one's music means caring for people, not just playing music for its own sake.

"You do it for the glory of God," Shook said.

After graduating from South Hagerstown High School and Shepherd College, Shook studied at the University of Maryland, United Theological Seminary and Shenandoah University.

He was pastor of a church in Woodbridge, Va., for the past five years.

Shook will continue to serve as artistic director of Hagerstown Choral Arts, a group he helped form 16 years ago.

In his new position at Trinity, Shook said he hopes to build on Johannsen's work. But Johannsen said Trinity needs to look to the future, and that's where Shook comes in.

Johannsen has taken a part-time organist job at the Keedysville-Beaver Creek Lutheran parish, gives private piano and organ lessons, and is working on a CD of his organ music.

Johannsen, 71, graduated from Augsburg College in Minneapolis with a bachelor's degree in piano and organ. In 1960, he won the American Guild of Organists and Minnesota Music Teacher's contests.

Johannsen earned a master's degree in sacred music from Union Theological Seminary in New York. While in school there, he saw Trinity's advertisement for an organist.

In 1985, Johannsen earned his doctorate in musical arts/organ from Catholic University in Washington, D.C.

Both men are looking forward to spring events at Trinity, including a Bach organ marathon, a return engagement of the William and Mary Choir, and the Hagerstown Choral Arts' performance of Mozart's Requiem.

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