By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury/Grafton – Lynn Ljunggren of Shrewsbury clocks a lot of time commuting. She’s a fulltime senior administrator at Raytheon in Marlborough, a piano accompanist with children choruses in Shrewsbury, and a church choir director and organist in North Grafton. A lifelong passion compels her to manage this busy travel schedule.
“I really love music,” she proclaimed. “I can’t imagine my life without it.”
Her life began in California as a military family member. They moved to Shrewsbury when she was age 3, then left for three years to live in Germany. She began studying organ at age 7 with Pat Laplante at Music Towne in Worcester.
“When my family went to Germany, we took the organ with us,” Ljunggren noted. “The day we came back, I called her to start my lessons again. I always knew that music would be part of my life.”
While attending Shrewsbury Public Schools, she was active in the music programs as a clarinetist in the band and a singer in choruses. She also performed in the musical each year at Shrewsbury High School, where she graduated in 1984.
Two months after graduating, she began as the organist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church in North Grafton.
“It wasn’t a very good start,” she acknowledged. “I was actually Roman Catholic and St. Andrew’s is an Episcopal church. I was very young, a teenager, and obviously had never played organ professionally. It was a big adjustment, but they were wonderful.”
Several years later, the Ljunggren family began considering themselves active members of the North Grafton church. Now, she’s also the choir director.
“St. Andrew’s is my second home,” she said. “The choir sang at my wedding. They’re very near and dear to me, not only from a church aspect, but from a family aspect. Both of my daughters have been baptized and just recently made their Confirmation at St. Andrew’s. It’s a really great community. We’re a small congregation, but we’re mighty.”
Ljunggren always knew that she loved music. Now, she understands that music and the choir is a way to express her faith.
“When I read the scripture and hear a sermon, sometimes those words don’t always reach me, but the words in the music more often than not do reach me,” she explained. “I love that the choir can tell a story. We can spread the word even more to the congregation through what we sing. It’s another way to get the point across instead of just hearing the spoken word.”
Ljunggren also discovered how to express herself musically closer to her Shrewsbury home. When her daughters were attending kindergarten at Beal Early Childhood Center, she offered to play piano for a sing-along. While there, she learned that Paton Elementary School was searching for a pianist. Now, she’s the piano accompanist for the fourth-grade choruses at Paton and Coolidge elementary schools.
“It wasn’t planned; it was purely accidental,” she said of the now longtime gig. “I happened to be at the right place at the right time. I love listening to the kids and working with the other teachers.”
She also loves performing as a singer, but rarely gets that opportunity.
“I don’t get to sing very much because I’m always behind the piano or organ and directing,” she noted.
Ljunggren was thrilled to sing “Hallelujah” from Handel’s Messiah with the Apple Tree Arts Community Chorus last December as part of Grafton Celebrates the Holidays.
“I just love any kind of music,” she said. “I listen to it all – Broadway, popular, country, rap. Anytime I can be involved in music, it makes me happy.”