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Music Club features local treasure

Local musician and composer Marie Jo Thum playing the piano. Photo by Karla Prudhomme

By Karla Prudhomme
Freelance Writer

The local Music Club was treated to the gift of music last Wednesday by local resident and nationally recognized composer Marie Jo Thum.
Joined by a local interdenominational vocalist and accompanied on piano by Marie Jo, the duo sang several of Thum’s published musical compositions, including her most recent title ‘To My Brothers and My Sisters- A Song for Ukraine.
The refrain of Thum’s song for Ukraine reads, “To my brothers and my sisters, we pray for suffering to cease. Grant them shelter, be their strength Lord; give them hope, and bring them peace.”
Having moved from Baco Raton, Florida, in 2017, Thum and husband, Richard, settled in Mountain City to retire; however, they do not fit the bill of a typical retired couple.
Marie Jo, who has a musical gift that she loves sharing, became the choir director at St. Anthony’s and the Artistic Director of ‘Johnson County Young Artists’ where she directed four productions.
She started a Children’s Community Chorus, composed and directed a local interdenominational Easter Cantata, and is a storyteller and book narrator at the Johnson County Library.
Mary Jo plays her Celtic harp for events held by the Arts Center and Arts Council and still has time to compose published and nationally recognized sacred musical pieces.
At age 36, her sacred music compositions were first published, and since that time, she has composed four collections that include twelve choral pieces each, six religious education pieces, pieces that were texts commissioned to be set to music, and additional pieces that have been included in other publications and hymnals.
Though sacred music is Marie Jo’s passion, she has also composed several patriotic pieces, including one for which she received a Presidential Commendation from President George Bush.
Another patriotic composition is performed annually for the 9/11 commemoration at Shanksville, Pennsylvania. One of Marie Jo’s best known and beloved compositions is a setting of the ‘Our Father,’ which has been sung worldwide.
Having been a Music teacher, Church music minister, and choir director for more than forty-five years, one would think that rest and relaxation were in order; however, Marie Jo is busy looking ahead to how best she can share her God-given gift of music with the community and especially the children, who inspire her.