“Through this fellowship I was forced to focus on an important aspect of who I am: The Michael who is a musician. I make my living doing music-related activities as an arts manager and innovator, but it is frighteningly simple to forget that my creative outlet, my artistic medium, is as a musician.”
As the Executive Director for an arts organization, a creative outlet is often difficult to maintain. That’s why it was so important for Michael Pettry’s creative renewal project to be centered around his lifelong passion of playing the organ. When most high school students find jobs after school or in the summer in retail or outdoor activities with other youth, Michael began playing the organ for area churches and has been on the organ bench nearly every weekend since. Pettry’s creative renewal took him across the United States to play some of the greatest and truly enchanting pipe organs in existence today.
One truly memorable experience was his trip to Boston with its history, diverse neighborhoods, affinity for style, and intellect. While there, he played the instrument at Old North Church and the organ at Old South, which was entirely unfamiliar to him. Pettry had never seen, heard or played it before — “but when a design is as close to perfect as humanly possible, one can slide right onto the bench like a hand in the glove and dig in.”
When considering his renewal journey, Pettry doesn’t say he’s refreshed, but rather that he knows himself better and feels more energized about what he does and why he does it. He says, “I believe even more in my need to make music. Rather than saying I renewed anything about me, which feels inaccurate, I would confidently share that this experience nudged me into a more mature understanding of myself and where I am going. What an opportunity!”