It gives me great pleasure to introduce and welcome our new organist and assistant director of music, Dr. Christopher Keenan. His name might sound familiar as he was our “guest” organist on February 21, the weekend of his second interview with the search committee.
Dr. Keenan comes to us with considerable gifts and experience both as an organist and church musician. A native of Tennessee, he knows a lot about Baltimore. Chris received a Bachelor of Music degree, specializing in organ, from The Peabody Conservatory of Music in 2012. After Peabody, Chris continued his studies at the University of Texas, Austin, where he completed a Master of Music in organ in 2014, followed by a Doctor of Musical Arts in organ in 2016. And Chris comes with a lot of experience working in Disciples of Christ, Presbyterian, United Methodist, and Episcopalian congregations. Easter Sunday was his last day at St. Michael’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, SC, where he was Director of Music and Broadcasting (yes, broadcasting). Chris has worked with children’s choirs, conducted bell choirs, and led contemporary worship services.
If you missed worship on February 21, I encourage you to listen the service music. I was especially moved by his playing of the opening hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” Have a listen. Chris also has his own YouTube Channel that includes recordings from recitals held in historic venues in both the United States and Europe. He has also participated and placed in many international organ competitions.
In addition to being a church musician, Chris is also a firefighter and EMT worker. From his EMT experience, Chris has now discerned a call to go into medicine, which is what’s bringing him back to Baltimore. In June, Chris will begin the post-baccalaureate/pre-med program at Goucher College in Towson. While this will take up a lot of his time, focus, and attention in the year ahead, he didn’t want to set aside his love of music and his love of working in the church. Chris plans to apply for medical school within the year. His first choice is the University of Maryland, but we will have to wait and see. In the meantime, the Organist Search Committee feels that God has blessed us with an outstanding candidate who is eager to join the staff and be part of the ministry of CPC. Chris will begin working with us either June 1 or 15.
When we began the process of looking for a new organist, the search committee considered our ministry needs going forward. With Session’s approval, we expanded the organist position to include the title assistant director of music (still part-time). In addition to serving as organist, Chris will also work with our youth choirs on Sunday mornings. Because of his experience with bells, as well as conducting and leading choirs, Chris will be able to support and assist Greg Knauf’s work as director of music and help when Greg is away.
I would like to thank the members of the search committee – Tom Enokian, Greg Knauf, Lum Offutt, Cynthia Schwanz, Reid Spearman, and Laurie White – for their tireless, prayerful work to find the right person for CPC. It was a great committee to work with. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Welcome, Christopher! Welcome—back—to Bawlmer!