Lohr Shares His Love of Music
By Denise Weaver
Somerset Magazine Correspondent
“I look at my role as a performer and church musician as a pretty hefty responsibility, to see that sacred music is performed, and heard, so that it lives on,” comments organist Bryan Lohr.
Somerset County is very fortunate to have this accomplished musician living and working here. A native of Stoystown, Bryan holds a master of music degree from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and his undergraduate degree from the renowned Juilliard School in New York City.
Bryan is now continuing his studies at CMU, having been accepted into the highly selective Artist Diploma Program. He is the first organist ever to take up residency in the program in CMU’s history.
His interest in music began at an early age. “When I was growing up there was always music at home. I remember my mother, a talented pianist, playing and having music books around the house. She was a substitute organist for the church we attended. That was my first exposure to the organ.”
“My maternal grandfather was a huge classical music buff, and he would always give me recordings as gifts. I also remember my parents taking me to the Johnstown Symphony and to performances in Pittsburgh. I was exposed to a variety of music, but I gravitated toward classical music.”
Bryan recalls a pivotal point in his musical life. “What I was about 10 years old, I first saw Diane Bish on TV, in her show called ‘The Joy of Music’ and I became a regular viewer. I was drawn to the cathedrals and great spaces she played in. I remember the close-ups of the organ consoles, and was just amazed at the size and complexity of the instruments. I was hooked. My parents arranged for private organ lessons for my with a wonderful teacher, Randy Fagan, and it all took off from there. “
While living in New York, Bryan was the organist and director of music for Manhattan’s First Church of Religious Science. He currently serves as organist and director of music at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, and plays the organ for the 11:00 a.m. service at St. Paul’s Presbyterian Church, both in Somerset. He is on the board of directors for the UCC Musician’s National Network, and recently was featured as a performer for the unprecedented recording of the entire New Century Hymnal.
“I really love performing and enjoy the numerous recitals and concerts that I give each year. The organ is fading into such obscurity and I love that I get to share the music and share with others my great interest. I enjoy practicing too. When I’m at home for the day, I usually practice between six and eight hours.”
Catherine Garrett, Bryan’s wife, is a life skills teacher at North Star High School. The couple lives with their two dogs in Hooversville.
“Cathy and I are excited to live here in Somerset County, to work here and to be part of this community. We believe that the quality of life here exceeds just about any place else. I lived in New York City and spend much time in Pittsburgh. Cathy grew up in Fiji, and also lived in Pittsburgh. But we love it here; Somerset County is where we want to be.”