Had they been told as undergraduates they were going to have careers in sacred music, both Carol ’80 and Dirk ’82 Damonte say they would have laughed. While strongly rooted in their faith, both had other designs: Carol was interested in music education and piano pedagogy, and Dirk planned a career as a freelance jazz musician. Fate would have it differently.
Dirk and Carol met in Kilworth Memorial Chapel at the opening worship service of fall semester 1979. They became part of a worship team that was active in area Methodist churches. Carol sang with the Adelphian Concert Choir; Dirk played piano in the Puget Sound Jazz Band. The pair was married in October 1982, and they began their married life in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In California Carol continued her career as a piano teacher and Dirk worked as a freelance artist performing gigs such as a four-month stint on a cruise ship. In addition to their careers in the music industry, they accepted positions as co-directors of the children’s choir at the Los Altos United Methodist Church. Gradually their involvement in the church increased and they spent less time pursuing secular careers. Dirk went to seminary and earned both a Master of Arts in Worship and the Arts and a Master of Divinity degree in 1996. He was commissioned as a diaconal minister in 1997, and was ordained in 2001.
Once Dirk and Carol began working in youth and music ministries at Los Altos UMC, they never looked back. As collaborators they have influenced generations of children, youth, and young adults in their daily work through their church, choir tours by Starfire Singers (a high school youth choir they have directed for 27 years), 13 original musicals, and much, much more. Today Dirk is minister of music and worship arts, and Carol is director of ministry and music for youth at the church. They describe their roles as stepping stones in preparing students to be passionate about music, to feel the importance and wonder of belonging within a group, to connect people—through the combination of music and faith—to the deeper places of worship, and to encourage everyone to consider the possibility of being more than they think they are.
Thinking back on his days at Puget Sound, Dirk (whose recording, Remembering, is available on Magic Wing Records) is thankful for the breadth of his experiences in a music program that gave him a wealth of opportunities. Carol remembers the sense of community that still defines the School of Music. Of the many influences from her campus days, she speaks glowingly about her experiences on Adelphian tours and how those tours influenced the structure and character of the domestic and international tours of Dirk’s and her own group, Starfire Singers. Both Dirk and Carol believe the integration of faith, community, and excellence in music education and performance provided by Puget Sound uniquely equipped them, and has continued to inspire them, in the work they do and the lives they lead.