Anna Marie Friars came to Good Shepherd Catholic Church to assume responsibilities as the Minister of Music in June 2015. She holds degrees from Westminster Choir College in Sacred Music and Music Education and The Florida State University in Choral Music Education- Choral Conducting. At Good Shepherd, she directs all the traditional Mass choirs, the young adult LifeTeen Band, the Women's Chorus, and youth Spirit Singers. She teaches three sections of guitar at the church and also works often with the newly expanded 5 octave handbell choir. For Christmas and Easter, Anna Marie doubles as orchestral conductor.
Anna Marie was raised at Saint Matthews Catholic Church in National Park, New Jersey just outside her hometown of West Deptford. As a child she participated in many music ensembles and decided in high school that she would like to pursue church music or music education as a profession. Gaining admission to Westminster Choir College enabled her to pursue both.
During her time as a student she held many significant leadership titles including Student Body President as well as State President of the National Association for Music Education. She was inducted into Who’s Who Among America’s Colleges and Universities, the National Society for Leadership and Success, Pi Kappa Lambda, Golden Key Honour Society and was a Charter member of Sigma Alpha Iota- a well-respected professional music fraternity for women formed in 1903. While in college, Anna Marie worked at a local church as a soloist and section leader. Eventually she also began a Children’s choir there.
Anna Marie has performed in choirs with some of the top orchestras including the New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, Dresden Staatskapelle and the Korean Broadcasting Symphony Orchestra to name a few. While at Westminster, Anna Marie was a member of the elite Westminster Choir performing all over the country and in residence at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. She was also a member of the famed Westminster Handbell Choir and toured much of the United States with that group. She continues to perform regularly and can often be found singing with the Tallahassee Community Chorus where she has been featured as a soloist for many works. Last year, Anna Marie travelled to the Philadelphia area to be the Soprano soloist for a September 11th Memorial Concert of Howard Goodall's Eternal Light Requiem.
Over four years ago, Anna Marie moved to Tallahassee for graduate school at The Florida State University and has served as Music Intern Coordinator at First Baptist Church downtown during her time as a student. Anna Marie has always been active in her community. In Tallahassee, her largest undertaking has been with our homeless population.
As a student she hosted music groups at The Shelter up to three times a week. Supervising other university students, Anna Marie grew this program extensively. Last Spring, Anna Marie brought 40 residents of the Shelter to dinner and an opera at FSU. The residents were given the red carpet treatment and were transported via limousine. They were provided with beautiful clothes and given makeovers by students from the college of music. It was a widely covered event by local media. More recently, Anna Marie has been a presenter at the Florida Music Educators Conference in Tampa, Florida where she shared with other Music Educators her work with the homeless and taught others how to replicate it.
Since Anna Marie was called to Good Shepherd, the groups have grown exponentially in numbers and the musicianship levels of the entire parish have continued to grow as well. The addition of guitar classes has brought many new faces to the music ministry and the music ministry has had a significant presence in the community performing at multiple assisted living facilities and in ecumenical concerts in the Tallahassee area. She looks forward to being a part of the the continued growth of the music ministry and parish.