Organist Michael Stefanek becomes minister of music at Brown Memorial

Michael Stefanek in February began his role as Minister of Music at Brown Memorial Park Avenue Presbyterian Church in Bolton Hill. Stefanek is organist and choir director and manages all the music ministries of the church. He was selected after a search that attracted applications from organists across the United States. 

Kathy Arnold, who lives in the 1400 block of Bolton Street and is a musician herself, was on the search committee. She said, “We are so fortunate to have Michael Stefanek in this role. He really is the best of the best!”

There will be a reception for Stefanek on Friday, April 19 from 4 to 6 pm in the community room at Brown (entrance on Park Avenue). To RSVP, email

While many in the neighborhood are aware of the beautiful and historically significant Tiffany windows at Brown Memorial, the organ itself and the legacy of previous organists also are impressive. The pipe organ was built by the Skinner Organ Company in Boston and installed in 1931. Much of the original instrument with its 3,000 pipes is largely intact, having undergone a museum quality restoration in the early 2000s. 

“Everyone in the country knows and respects this organ. There are few like it — it has a mature sound with warm character,” said Arnold. There is also a legacy of celebrated organists at Brown. Virgil Fox served as Brown’s organist while also leading the organ department at the Peabody Conservatory in the 1930s and 1940s. Dr. John Walker, another renowned organist, served in the early 2000s and is now Minister of Music Emeritus. He was succeeded by Michael Britt, a Bolton Hill neighbor who was there until his death in 2022. “I feel honored to continue this legacy of excellence in my role as Minister of Music at Brown,” Stefanek said.

Stefanek, 43, moved to Bolton Hill from Salisbury, where he directed music ministries at Asbury United Methodist Church. Originally from Green Bay WI, Stefanek owns up to being a “self-described cheesehead.”  He attended Oberlin College, where he earned a Bachelor of Music Degree in organ performance and earned a master’s and doctor of musical arts degrees in organ performance from the University of Michigan. 

“I believe we should respect the past and embrace the future,” said Stefanek when asked about his vision for Brown. “The legacy at Brown is powerful, but we can also have a mix of traditional music with newer, lesser well-known composers.” Stefanek looks to revive the Tiffany music series in the fall of 2024 and incorporate popular programming from the past with new artists and musicians. Stefanek enjoys working with students and wants to strengthen the connection with the Peabody Institute by setting up an organ scholar program. 

Future plans may include smaller events, adding more family-oriented programming and expanding programming for children. “Baltimore has so much to offer. It is such a rich musical community, and there are so many resources to draw from in the metropolitan area. I feel so fortunate to be in the role, and I am excited about the future of the music ministry at Brown,” Stefanek said. He can be reached at

–Sallye Perrin