Philip Barnes, Director of Music
Recognized by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch as ‘Best Choral Conductor’, Philip has established an enviable reputation for choir training and programming through his work with the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus. He has conducted this professional ensemble since 1989, and has earned numerous plaudits locally, nationally and internationally for his direction. He is also known for his championing of women composers, and for the numerous premieres he has conducted. His work may be heard on fourteen compact discs, most recently on the Regent (UK) label. His commentary may be heard on Re-Choired Listening, a selection of great choral and vocal music, broadcast weekly on Classic 107.3 FM (and online). As a singer he appeared on many commercial recordings in both the USA and England, where he spent his formative years as a boy chorister and later adult member of various cathedral and chapel choirs.
He has sung, conducted, and lectured on a wide range of subjects in Europe and North America; for example, in January 2019 he flew to Moscow to address the Orthodox Patriarch’s “Christmas Readings” conference. Many of these presentations have examined the intersection of music and classical literature, which reflects his training not only as a musician but also as a classicist; the latter he employs as a member of the Latin & Greek Department at John Burroughs School, where he was the first holder of the Johnston Endowed Chair in Classics. For many summers he has also taught at the Chautauqua Institution (NY).
Philip holds degrees and postgraduate certificates from the universities of Bristol and Manchester (UK), and King’s College, London. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and in May 2019 was awarded an honorary doctorate of ‘humane letters’ by The Aquinas Institute, at St. Louis University. For the spring of 2022 he has been awarded a Bogliasco Fellowship to study in Genoa, Italy.
He is married to a lifelong member of Third Baptist, Rachael, with whom he has two children, Eliot & Sylvia.
Brent Johnson, Organist
Brent Johnson came to Third Baptist Church in 2004 while working as a technician for the Wicks Organ Company of Highland, Illinois. He started there in 1998 after studying organ with Robert T. Anderson at the Meadows School of the Arts and Kenneth G. Hart at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. While at SMU he also performed with the Meadows Percussion Ensemble and was a member and Drum Major of the Mustang Band. His work with Wicks took him across the country tuning, repairing, and installing pipe organs. He is currently responsible for the care of the recently rebuilt & enlarged 72-rank instrument at Third Baptist, and does freelance organ work around St. Louis. Brent also coordinates the Friday Pipes organ recital series, Third Baptist’s weekly free recital series given noontime throughout much of year (excluding June – August), and brings artists from around the country and the world to play the sanctuary organ. Brent teaches piano, organ, and percussion through the CityArts program at Third Baptist. As an arranger and music director he has worked in many different fields of classical, church, and pop music, but has always returned to the organ.
In addition to his work at Third, Brent is a founding member of the non-profit Organ Media Foundation. There he oversees web development and production of the Internet audio stations Organlive and Positively Baroque, and The Organ Experience. Brent is also responsible for the production and recording of the radio show “The King of Instruments” heard weekly on the Radio Arts Foundation of St. Louis (107.3FM and online). In 2017, he was awarded the Avis Blewett Award by the St. Louis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, presented to “those who have made a significant contribution to the musical life of the Saint Louis area.”
Brent counts woodworking among his hobbies, and he is on the board of the Show-Me Woodturners in Festus, Missouri. He also serves as a volunteer for the Animal House shelter in St. Louis. He and his wife Carrie Bradfield are completing the restoration of a historic house in the Carondelet neighborhood of St. Louis.
Garik Pedersen, Pianist
Gary came to Third in October 2021, having enjoyed a long & distinguished academic year, notably at Eastern Michigan University of which he is professor emeritus. His teaching career has been extensive, producing prizewinners in regional, national, and international competitions. He himself studied with Wesley True at the University of Central Missouri, which named him its Distinguished Alumnus in Music in 2010, He was the final DMA piano student of John Simms at the University of Iowa, graduating in 1986. Other distinctions include his past presidency of the Michigan Music Teachers Association, which honored him with its Distinguished Service Award in 2016. He received the Michigan Touchstone Award in 2017 in recognition of his “commitment to Michigan’s artistic excellence and his advocacy for the arts.”
In 2018, he launched The Victory Vertical Project, a touring multi-media performance venture that takes its name from pianos built for the US military during World War II. The VVP has been presented to audiences throughout the United States in concert halls, churches, and museums as well as schools, retirement centers, hospitals and military bases.
Third is blessed indeed to welcome Gary to its music staff.
Brook Bisaillon, Assistant Pianist
Brook Bisaillon studied collaborative piano at Illinois Wesleyan University, graduating with a music education degree in 2010. Returning to her hometown of St. Louis she has worked as a collaborative pianist in schools and is currently at Lindbergh Senior High. She sings alto in the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, and often works with area music directors in the production of high school musicals. Brook is married to another music teacher, Jacob; they live in Webster Groves and have two children.
Choir Section Leaders
Sopranos: Heather Fehl, Shannon McFarland
Alto: Laura Swearingen
Tenor: David Miller
Bass: Tony Ludwig