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Toronto-based musician John Terauds is the new music minister at St. Pete’s Episcopal Church in Bennington. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com)

BENNINGTON -- Toronto-based musician John Terauds played organ for his first Sunday service as music minister at Saint Peter's Episcopal Church, 200 Pleasant St., on Palm Sunday. He bought a house in Bennington after leaving behind his music minister title at the Church of the Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Toronto.

Terauds grew up in the area and was previously familiar with Bennington. He also said he was attracted to the "openness and warmth" of the people he met during a week-long visit he took in February. "It's not just this random small town that popped up. I had a little bit of a connection; it's a place I like."

Father Justin Lanier of Saint Peter's said in a press release that Terauds will be able to take the church into further practice of the Anglican musical tradition.

Toronto-based musician John Terauds is the new music minister at St. Pete’s Episcopal Church in Bennington. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington
Toronto-based musician John Terauds is the new music minister at St. Pete’s Episcopal Church in Bennington. (Holly Pelczynski/Bennington Banner/photos.benningtonbanner.com)

"He will challenge the choir, the clergy and the congregation in general to really expand our musical worship and prayer," Lanier said. "The entire congregation is ecstatic."

Terauds said he is more than just an organist and choir master. "My title is the music minister so whatever comes up," he said. "The church needs to modernize itself a little bit. Father Justin has some ideas and I have some ideas. (Upon agreement of the congregation), we are possibly going to try different kinds of services and different kinds of music."

Terauds played piano in his youth. He has been an organist since he was 17-years old. He said his involvement in the church started by happenstance. "I was living in a town about the same size as Bennington. The local Episcopal organist left. The choir master, who was the bandmaster at my high school asked if I wanted to come play organ at the church. I said ‘well no,' but I did it anyway. That's how I started, and I never stopped."

Being a music minister is not a full-time job for Terauds. He maintained a music blog, Musical Toronto, and wrote for The Toronto Star as a music critic "(which) was my real, paying work for most of my adult life," he said.

Canadian publishing company Dundum Press called Terauds one of Canada's most influential present-day voices in classical music writing.

"I don't have to find another job right away, so I will have a chance to see what's going on and what I could do (on the side), whether it will be music or something else," said Terauds. "I have a couple book ideas in my head, that perhaps I could sit down long enough to get serious about them."

Before leaving his blog in Toronto, Terauds wrote about his enthusiasm for moving to Bennington, that the town is filled with people who love music and want to perform it. Musical Toronto, at http://www.musicaltoronto.org/, is now managed by La Scena Musicale Magazine freelance editor, Michael Vincent.

Contact Tom Momberg at tmomberg@benningtonbanner.com. Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg