On May 29 we received the exciting news of the appointment of Jonathan Oldengarm to the position of Minister of Music. Tracy Pratt, chair of the Search Committee, detailed the extensive interview and audition process, while outlining Jonathan's background, performance credits and passion for collaboration and community.
Below you'll find Tracy's announcement, which includes glowing references from Jonathan's peers, as well as a note from Jonathan himself.
Thanks to the Search Committee for their dedicated work. We look forward to meeting you soon, Jonathan!
Dear Met family,
While I've only met a few of you in person, I am beyond excited to join you later this summer. Following in the footsteps of your distinguished Directors of Music Drs. Fricker, Cook and Wright is a great honour and great responsibility, as is being the latest steward of Canada's largest pipe organ and oldest carillon. You have a long history as a community of faith that is also a cultural beacon in downtown Toronto, and working with you to grow that prophetic voice is a high calling indeed. The world around us is not as it was in 1922, nor even in 2019; the pandemic has caused us all to reconsider our priorities, and finding a balance between celebrating our rich traditions and the call to diversify is now more important than ever. From what I've seen to date, Met is ideally placed to keep the flame and to innovate, with a strong group of engaged, skilled and creative people who are committed to moving forward together in faith.
J.S. Bach often included the phrase "Soli Deo gloria" ("to God alone the glory") in his manuscripts, and this guides my approach to leading a ministry of sacred music. We aim for the highest level of preparation and execution in worship services, recognizing that our work is within the context of an inclusive and welcoming community of faith--and that we're not "performing" with the same intention as in a concert. The Epiphany hymn "Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" is another guiding light: in church music, we make the gift of musical and theological beauty available to everyone, whether as singers, instrumentalists or listeners. There is no admission charge to come to church, and if we church musicians are exercising our craft well, the most beautiful and meaningful of the past and present is offered freely to one and all: a perfect metaphor for God's grace.
Who are we, the Oldengarm-Struik family? I, Jonathan, am a native of Harriston, Ontario, and studied at Wilfrid Laurier and then McGill Universities, with a two-year sojourn at the Musikhochschule in Stuttgart, Germany. My wife Naomi Struik (from Fenelon Falls, ON) and I first met during our undergrad studies at Laurier. She has a graduate degree in baroque oboe performance from the University of Toronto as well as a B.Ed from Queens. Our 12-year-old daughter Christina loves Lego, cycling, trains and cooking. And finally, our highly sociable nine-month-old Spots (a fuzzy black and white cat) enjoys napping, climbing, and watching birds and squirrels. As a family we love outdoor activities, reading, Friday "movie nights", cooking, and more. We've lived in Montreal since 1998 (2001 for Naomi), and returning to Ontario is a true homecoming.
Finally, I would like to thank the Search Committee chaired by Tracy Pratt for their professionalism and warmth at every step of the process. The position description was beautifully written and detailed; their communication was unfailingly clear and prompt; the interviews were well-run and focused; and given the complexities of the pandemic and due process, the timeline was amazingly efficient. I have admired your Director of Music Emerita Dr. Patricia Wright since my teen years, and she has been the model of a supportive and encouraging colleague as we together navigate this latest transition in the musical life of Met. It will be a joy to work with Revs. Meyers and Aitchison this fall as well; I have felt them to be kindred spirits.
And now, off to pack MANY boxes in short order! Peace and grace to you all, and until soon,
Photo: Tam Lan Truong