Meganne Woronchak, a classical pianist all her life, walked into a St. Albans band practice rocking out to Joyful Joyful We Adore Thee and said she felt a bit overwhelmed. She was impressed with the loudness and the progressive sound of the guitars, something she’d never experienced before.
“I was somehow drawn to it,” she said. Since that practice in July 2014, she’s been part of the band. And now she said “they make fun of me and say, not many people come on their first week and just never leave!”
Sunday mornings Meganne is on stage playing keyboard, organ on special occasions and recently some electronic synth mixed in. Within a year at St. Albans, she learned their entire roster of songs and has had a steep learning curve in a different kind of music.
“As a classical artist, sometimes it’s very isolating and there was something very exciting to me about being in a band. I guess you can call it a childhood dream,” she said with a smile.
Meganne is a musician finishing up her masters in piano pedagogy at the University of Ottawa. She recently got accepted to do her PhD in music. Before moving to Ottawa, she searched for a church online and admired the young adult focus and the friendliness of the staff when she reached out to ask what St. Albans was all about. Being an introvert and moving to a new city, is a big jump but Meganne said after her first Sunday morning with the band, they told her “welcome to the family.”
“I was touched by that because I’m really shy and it was mostly me laughing at them bickering about whatever and they considered me just as valuable even if I wasn’t contributing to the conversation,” she said. “Even just my presence, my being there, made me part of the group and that’s really special.”
For Meganne, Ottawa was a place she was going for school but she said St. Albans has provided a community and “surrogate family.” She said she doesn’t usually believe it signs, but when she was on stage with the band blasting Home by Phillip Phillips to an energetic congregation, she felt something.
“I took it as a feeling that it was going to mean more to me than I had bargained for,” she said. “I was definitely struggling between Ottawa being a temporary and permanent home and somehow in that moment I knew that it would become more than that in the end.”