Thrasher’s Minister of Music leaves to pursue Master’s degree

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VINTON–Brandon Mock, Minister of Music at Thrasher Memorial United Methodist Church for the past two years, has resigned from his position  in order to further his education. He will be working on his Master’s degree at Shenandoah University in Winchester. He plans to complete his degree in Music Performance in saxophone in 2017. His career goal is to teach saxophone at the university level.

“Brandon has done an exceptional job and loves this church, but cannot pass up this opportunity,” said Pastor B. Failes. “This is heartbreaking to all of us but we wish Brandon well.”

December 20 marked his last Sunday as music director. The Christmas Eve service was his final performance with the choirs.

Mock will be studying for his Master's degree in Music Performance in saxophone at Shenandoah University.  (photo courtesy of Susi Lawson Photography in Wytheville)
Mock will be studying for his Master’s degree in Music Performance in saxophone at Shenandoah University.
(photo courtesy of Susi Lawson Photography in Wytheville)

Mock holds a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Radford University with Applied Studies in organ, saxophone, and voice. He currently serves as adjunct instructor of saxophone and clarinet at Sweet Briar College.  During the 2014-2015 school year he was the choir director at Cave Spring Middle School in Roanoke County.

At Thrasher he has been the director of the orchestra, adult, handbell, and children’s choirs, and provided music for the 11 a.m. Sunday service each week. He has served as Minister of Music since December 2013.

Before taking that position Mock served as organist and Associate Minister of Music at Thrasher beginning in 2011 at age 19. He took over as Minister of Music when Josh O’Dell left to work on his Master’s degree at Shenandoah.

Mock first came to Thrasher to serve as organist while attending Radford.

Mock grew up in Wytheville and graduated from Fort Chiswell High School. His home church is Wytheville Presbyterian.

He comes from a musical family and has been surrounded by music his entire life. Friends and family say his talent is both genetic and environmental.

His interest in the saxophone may have originated with his mother Laurie, who earned her own Master’s degree in the saxophone, has been a faculty member at High Point University, and plays saxophone in the Thrasher Orchestra.

She says her son started piano lessons at age 5. Their family photo albums are full of pictures of Brandon with various toy instruments from an early age.

He studied voice privately during high school and at Radford University. He plays most instruments, although the saxophone is his passion.

Mock will be missed by the congregation not only because of his talent, but because of changes he and O’Dell brought to the music program at Thrasher. They were responsible for some major renovations to the choir room, and for innovations in the choir and orchestra programs. They also recruited many of their friends and talented musicians to the church.

Brandon Mock, the Minister of Music at Thrasher Memorial has resigned to pursue his Master's degree at Shenandoah University. He was honored at a reception at the church on Dec. 20. Shown left to right are Thrasher Pastor B. Failes, incoming chair of the Staff-Parish Committee Greg Chlan, Brandon Mock, outgoing Staff-Parish Chair Donna Brogan, and Pastor Jae Song.
Brandon Mock, the Minister of Music at Thrasher Memorial has resigned to pursue his Master’s degree at Shenandoah University. He was honored at a reception at the church on Dec. 20. Shown left to right are Thrasher Pastor B. Failes, incoming chair of the Staff-Parish Committee Greg Chlan, Brandon Mock, outgoing Staff-Parish Chair Donna Brogan, and Pastor Jae Song.

At the reception Donna Brogan, chair of the Staff-Parish Committee presented a gift from the church which Mock plans to put toward the purchase of a new soprano saxophone.

“We love your calm, encouraging, easy-going direction of the orchestra,” said Brogan. “We appreciate all you have done for us and we know your future is bright.”

The Staff-Parish Committee is searching for a new Minister of Music and is well into that process. Mock will substitute for organist Star Song while she is on maternity leave. Former Minister of Music Josh O’Dell will be serving the congregation intermittently as music minister as the search is underway.