BRONXVILLE N.Y. -- Sándor Szabó plays the piano, builds harpsichords, has three master's degrees and is now the minister of music at The Reformed Church of Bronxville.
He succeeds Mark Peterson, who filled the position last June after Matthew Phelps, the previous minister of music, resigned.
Szabó was born in Yugoslavia, but is of Hungarian descent. His musical career began to take off soon after he immigrated to Canada in 1989. He has since worked as a conductor, arranger, organist, pianist and coach throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.
Music has the ability to touch the deepest and most basic of human emotions, said Szabó.
"I knew that music was going to be my life's calling by the age of 11," said Szabó. "My mother used to play the accordion when I was a child and that memory really stuck with me. Growing up, I had the opportunity to go to some elite schools for music. In my class there were only two or three students, so it was very intense, but very worth it."
On the pursuit of perfection, Szabó earned three master's degrees, one in piano, one in organ and one in church music. He then went on to earn his doctoral degree in piano from Boston University in 2000. Szabó said he loved going to school because it enabled him to learn from the best, including Frédéric Chopin and Johann Sebastian Bach.
An appreciation for Baroque music is just one of the things Szabó said he will bring to Bronxville.
"When you search for a new job, you have to make sure it's a good match for you, and I think this was a perfect fit for me," said Szabó. "I love church music because it can touch people on a very deep level. I'm going to bring my harpsichords, and even a little of my Eastern European background too. I hope that all this music with the essence spirituality will really enrich people's lives."
Szabó said that in addition to his post as minister of music, he is looking forward to teaching private piano lessons.
"This really isn't a job for me, it's an expressional of my personal beliefs," said Szabó. "I envision working with everyone from young kinds to older adults. My goal is to engage them and to develop their talent, which I strongly believe we all have. We're all gifted, so we just have to find our right path. I hope to bring that attitude here with me, and to really make people believers."