Church duo spread musical word

The pastor of St. Anne and St. Edmund’s Anglican Parish in Parksville and the former music director at Knox United Church have spent the summer making music together and the two have put together a musical program for the fall that is sure to have the angels singing.

Pianist Ron Klusmeier has come out of retirement to help spread musical community

Pianist Ron Klusmeier has come out of retirement to help spread musical community

The pastor of St. Anne and St. Edmund’s Anglican Parish in Parksville and the former music director at Knox United Church have spent the summer making music together and the two have put together a musical program for the fall that is sure to have the angels singing.

Whether you are Anglican or not, the ministry’s new music program is a great opportunity for all people in the community who love to sing and the partnership between Reverend Andrew Twiddy and local musician Dr. Ron Klusmeier is a collaboration the duo hopes will renew spirituality in the community.

Klusmeier made an attempt at retirement two years ago after 13 years with the Music Ministry at Knox United Church in Parksville and more than 50 years as a church musician, but somehow Twiddy convinced him there was an opportunity to do something new in the community — and the partnership was formed.

“After retirement I missed the congregational connection. While I find working alone at composing and arranging in my studio very fulfilling, there is just nothing like gathering together with singers and musicians to bring the music to life and Andrew was a very convincing friend,” admitted Klusmeier when asked how the Reverend brought him on board.

Twiddy said they met for coffee and a connection was made.

“I had a vacancy in our music position and I asked Ron if he could give me any pointers about finding or training local musicians,” Twiddy said. “The more we talked we both realized there was an opportunity to make something new. Ron is a real luminary in the world of church music and has an international reputation. We are blessed to have him and I think we have a partnership that we are both excited about.”

Exuberance abounds as the pair discuss their musical vision for the parish and when accused of having way too much fun on their project the two didn’t disagree.

“We are having fun. We wrote our first piece together just a couple of weeks ago. I put some lyrics and Ron put some music together and we sang it on a Sunday morning.  I have never worked so hard in the summer, but I have never felt so rejuvenated by my summer’s work. It’s all good,” admitted Twiddy.

He said they are especially interested in reaching out to those who may feel in need of musical and spiritual community and may be interested in exploring or reconnecting to a spiritual tradition.

“Our goal is to be accessible to the spiritually and musically inquisitive as well as working with those who are used to being part of a faith community,” Twiddy said.

There are three music programs at the parish they want the community to know about.

The Sunday morning Drop-in-Choir program under the direction of Klusmeier at St. Edmund’s goes from 9 to 9:40 a.m.  It is an open invitation to those who are spiritually and or musically inquisitive to join the parish on a drop-in basis to form the choir for the 10 a.m. service.

“All they have to do is show up Sunday for the 9 a.m. rehearsal. We are hoping people who maybe don’t have a current Sunday morning connection will be interested.  It’s a delightfully informal gathering of singers,” said Klusmeier.

An eight-week program facilitated by Klusmeier, Twiddy and David Young, called Heritage Hymns and Stories, will be held on Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. starting in October.

It is aimed at reaching people who love the old classic hymns as well as those who are adventurous for new material.

“My career has been based on contemporary music and words but we also recognize the traditions that have brought us to where we are and we try to honour that in these special sessions,” Klusmeier said.

Those who join the group can listen or sing along to the classic hymns of the past and learn the stories of how they came to be written.

“David and I do organ and piano. We love playing together. Andrew jumps in there too with guitar, penny whistle and keyboard.”

Twiddy said he feels that this program may be able to reach people who love the old classic hymns as well as those who are adventurous for new material.

“We want to try out something that hasn’t been done perhaps in their experience before.  I feel what Ron and I can do together is offer both of these ways of approaching music,” Twiddy added.

Sunday at Three which starts Sept. 18 is an informal ecumenical gathering led by Klusmeier and some of his musical friends. It features music composed by Klusmeier with words by his writing partners from around the globe including Walter Farquharson, Fred Kaan, Shirley Erena Murray, John Oldham, Ruth Duck, and Brian Wren.

“It is a mix of singing and stories that focuses on making music.  There are a number of musicians that join me on organ, piano, guitar and bass. It has been a very popular gathering for people who are interested particularly in new songs for worship. It is all material that I have written and Andrew is an active participant,” Klusmeier explained.

The music is drawn from the nearly 800 hymns and songs Klusmeier has composed. He has hundreds of selections published by over 75 denominations and publishing companies worldwide.

Planning is also underway for the Dec. 20 Christmas Cantata which Klusmeier wrote with Walter Farquharson and it will be combining the musical resources of St. Edmunds with other churches.

Klusmeier said they are inviting a number of others and they will have one presentation in Nanaimo at Trinity United, and one in Parksville but it will draw on singers from all of the churches.

He said they want to be open to collaborative projects with other churches in the area in a way that is somewhat new for our community.

“I think too many churches become isolated and a bit stifled and by sharing their resources by doing collaborative projects I think we open ourselves up to a healthier sense of community,” Klusmeier said.

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