Minister of Music/Organist
Christopher Schroeder is the Minister of Music and Organist at Grace United Methodist Church in Baltimore, MD. Previously, Christopher was the Director of Music and Organist at Towson Presbyterian Church in Towson, MD. In May 2006 Christopher received a Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance at Indiana University in Bloomington and in May 2008 he completed his Master’s degree in Organ Performance and Church Music at IU.
Christopher has been involved in church music for more than thirty years. His first church music experience was at St. Mary’s Catholic Church where his mother was organist. With years of piano instructions and experience, he began to play organ at several Protestant churches in Rushville, Indiana. Before graduating from high school, he studied organ privately at Earlham College and attended Interlochen Music Summer Camp. Christopher studied organ at Westminster Choir College before returning to Indiana University to complete a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. Chris continued his interest in music with part-time positions at various churches in the Indianapolis area while working full time in the fields of Social Work and Accounting.
In the Fall of 2003, Christopher returned to higher education to complete his music degrees, attending Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. While there, he studied composition, choral and organ techniques. He completed both the Bachelor and Master degrees in Organ Performance and Church Music under the guidance of many fine musicians and professors including Dr. Marilyn Keiser and Dr. William Gray.
Christopher enjoys playing organ recitals in the Baltimore area. Other passions and expertise include choral and congregational singing. Other interests include pursuing ways to make organ music and congregational singing more enjoyable and meaningful to the congregations of the church and to the general public.
Mezzo Soprano Soloist/Section Leader
Mezzo-soprano Mairin Srygley is a versatile artist from Baltimore City. As a high school student at Baltimore School for Arts until 2008, she studied voice with Grace’s very own bass soloist Robert Cantrell. She then completed her studies in Music: Voice and “Education and Social in Latin America” at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has sung with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Chamber Orchestra, and the Newark Symphony Orchestra. She was most recently a member of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Choir in D.C., Coral Cantigas: Washington’s Premiere Latino/a Chorus, and the BSO’s OrchKids staff. Mairin is now teaching at The Highlandtown Preschool, serving on the boards of Patterson Park Neighbors and International Partners, and studying towards her certification in Speech Language Pathology. Mairin has been part of the Grace United Methodist Church community as soloist and director of our children’s choirs since 2014.
Contralto Soloist/Section Leader
Patricia Hengen is a graduate of Shenandoah Conservatory and the Baltimore School for the Arts. She was most recently seen in Annapolis Opera’s productions of Faust, South Pacific, Madama Butterfly, and will be a soloist in their production of Little Women this Fall. This year, Patricia became a member of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society. Other recent stage appearances include Hairspray: In Concert with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Le Prince Charmant in Massenet’s Cendrillon, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, and Emma Carew in Jekyll & Hyde. Ms. Hengen has been a soloist with the City Choir of Washington and the Central Maryland Chorale, and has won various awards in the NATS Competition in Maryland, Virginia, and the Mid-Atlantic region.
Bass Soloist/Section Leader
Robert Cantrell has been our bass soloist since 1996 where he is also the Youth Choir Director. Mr. Cantrell has performed extensively throughout the USA, Europe and Asia, and has appeared in operatic roles with the Washington National Opera, Baltimore Opera, Wolftrap Opera, Opera Delaware, Sarasota Opera, Annapolis Opera, Opera Ebony, and Opera Vivente. Career highlights include appearances with Legendary Tenor, Placido Domingo, in Washington National Opera’s Le Cid (Massenet) live on PBS, Carnegie Hall Debut in the Mozart Requiem, performing with the Metropolitan Opera Chorus in New York, Porgy and Bess at the Bregenzer Festspielhaus in Germany, solo performances with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, a solo recital on the New Young Artists Series at the Kennedy Center, performing with soprano, Renee Fleming in Donizetti’s Lucrezia Borgia at the Washington National Opera, and as soloist on the Baltimore Choral Arts Society’s France Tour and on the Washington National Opera’s Japan Tour. He teaches young aspiring singers at the Baltimore School for the Arts.
David C. Brock, a native of Georgia, began his church music career at age 11 when he became the principal pianist and then organist at his United Methodist parish church. While attending Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1973, David studied organ privately with music department faculty and was organist for the Glee Club and Women’s Chorale for the 1972 Festival of Lessons and Carols. He continued to commute on weekends in order to play at his home church each Sunday.
Following graduation, David was accepted into the Ph.D. program at the Johns Hopkins University and moved to Baltimore. He began attending the A.W. Wilson Memorial church, sang in the choir, and studied organ privately with the music director, Theodore J. Talbert.
In 1977, at the request of SPRC, he became the organist and choir director of the Wilson Memorial church, a position he held until the merger with Grace Church in 1996. David served on many committees at Wilson Memorial, including a number of years as chair of the Administrative Board, a position that he held at the time of the merger with Grace in 1996. When the longtime organist of Grace church, Bruce R. Eicher, requested additional vacation time to pursue travels, David was engaged to be associate organist to fill in for 16 weeks each year. Following Mr. Eicher’s retirement, David continued as associate organist under the direction of Christopher Schroeder, minister of music. The position was changed to a focus on accompanying choir anthems, playing for rehearsals, and directing the chancel choir as needed.
In addition to the B.A. degree from Emory, David also earned a M.S. degree from Johns Hopkins, as well as a master’s equivalency from Hopkins in history and education. He retired from the Baltimore City Public Schools in 2004 following a 30 year career in the classroom and central office administration. While at Grace, David has served on the Trustees and chaired the Worship Committee and the Administrative Board.
Soprano Soloist/Section Leader
Leah has been praised by The Baltimore Sun for her “bright, flexible soprano” and “bell-like voice”. A versatile artist, her career spans opera, oratorio, chamber music, new music, musical theater and cabaret. She continues her studies with Elizabeth Daniels, recognized as one of Washington, D.C.’s outstanding teachers of vocal technique. In addition, she teaches at Roland Park Country School, Notre Dame of Maryland University, and Towson University.
Leah has performed numerous operatic roles locally, and she has made concert appearances with the Bay Atlantic Symphony, Southern Delaware Chorale, Deer Creek Chorale, Danbury Music Center, Annapolis Chorale and Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. Her interest in music of our time has also led Leah to multiple appearances with the Evolution Contemporary Music Series, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, and at the Symphony Space in New York City.
A native of Tennessee, Leah holds degrees from Georgetown College, Towson University, and Peabody Conservatory, where she studied with Phyllis Bryn-Julson. She currently sings with the Washington National Opera Chorus in addition to her new role at Grace Church, her teaching positions, various engagements as solo artist and mother to daughter Sabina, son Felix, and cat Rudolph.
Tenor Soloist/Section Leader
Timothy McGowan is excited to be the new tenor section leader at Grace United Methodist Church. As a soloist, he enjoys singing traditional opera, sacred music contemporary works and American music theatre. Timothy is a vocal music fellow of the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, and he has previously performed with The Opera Institute at Boston University, the Ohio Light Opera, Seagle Music Colony and Odyssey Opera. Timothy holds a Masters of Music degree in Voice Performance from the Boston University College of Fine Arts.