goal when singing is to help create sense of peace, comfort
By Danelle Carvell, CONTRIBUTING WRITER
addition to her vocal music abilities, Pirjo Mace is
proficient on piano, accordion and several other
instruments. (Photo courtesy of Pirjo Mace)
(Editor’s Note: The Sentinel’s ongoing series
on artists continues with Pirjo Mace, a local music
instructor and popular soloist in the region.)
thing Pirjo Mace knew as she was growing up was that music
would be a big part of her life.
first real knowing was when I heard my first opera on PBS.
Beverly Sills was singing, and I fell in love with her
voice,’’ she said.
love for music goes much deeper than just getting in front
of people and performing.
listen to all kinds of music, and that good feeling that it
gives me, I like to pass that on as I perform for others,’’
Peer-yo) Mace is a graduate of Line Mountain High School and
Susquehanna University, where she earned a degree in vocal
performance. She began taking piano lessons at age 5, and
over the years she progressed into learning other
instruments – organ, accordion, saxophone, guitar and flute.
Since the age of 15, she's been playing the organ for
her church, David’s UCC in Hebe. And she began voice lessons at 13
years of age.
Mace soon discovered that she enjoyed singing the
most. The summers before her junior and senior years in high school
she attended Susquehanna University’s music camp.
“That is when I became serious about pursuing music
in college,’’ she said.
This past year, she sang the National Anthem at the
Cherry Blossom Festival, and she sang for the Millersburg Memorial
Day Ceremony and for a “Relay for Life” fundraiser at the Lutheran
Church in Killinger. She also has an event scheduled for Sunday,
Oct. 4, when she’ll be part of an “Afternoon of Music” at Zion
Church in Herndon.
“Singing in front of an audience can be intimidating
at times because all eyes are on me. My fear is forgetting the words
or my voice giving out on me,” Mace admitted.
When she chose music as a career, she initially
wanted to be a teacher. She’s been teaching private music lessons
since she was 16. She chose the course to vocal performance knowing
that she could continue to teach private lessons to students who had
the same interest in music and shared the same passion she has.
“What I enjoy most about music is the variety it
offers from instruments to vocal. The solo voice as well as the
harmonies. I like the technical aspect of it--how the musical lines
are written, the complexity of the layers, and how those layers make
the music sound the way it does. Each voice has its own place of
importance,” Mace said.
“Another thing I like about music is how it can take
a person to a certain place and time and stir emotions from past and
present life experiences. Each song tells its own story and people
can relate to that in their own way.
Music can emit so many emotions no matter what genre.
When I perform, my goal is to help people get to that place and time
and bring back those feel-good memories or help them create a sense
of peace and comfort in difficult situations,” she added.
Starting her senior year in college, Mace worked at
Haines Music in Sunbury and continued there for 10 years. She
thoroughly enjoyed working with other private music instructors as
well as school music directors. She taught lessons there and
continues to teach lessons at a music studio in Hebe, which is
managed by Mace and her mother, Carol.
She has been the music director at Neidig Memorial
UMC in Oberlin for 12 years. She directs the adult choir there and
she’s happy about the new Allen digital organ she gets to play.
Richard Singer, who serves on the church’s Board of
Trustees, was one of the people responsible for hiring Mace as choir
director. Singer also is in the choir, so he’s gotten to know her
“She’s a fine director, and a fine organist and piano
player. She has a lot of knowledge. And she’s also a very nice
person. I hope she never leaves,” Singer said.
Mace is the current director of activities at Spring
Creek Rehabilitation in Harrisburg, where she and her staff plan fun
things to do for the residents.
“I make sure music plays an active role in the life
of our community there, whether it be listening to different kinds
of music during coffee socials and sing-a-longs or during resident
praise team, resident choir, or kitchen band. I let the residents
decide what they want to sing or do. I’m lucky to work in a place
where I can use what I have learned musically to bring joy to the
residents,” she said.
Mace learned to play accordion at an early age and
never thought she would use it again until she started working in
“The residents love it, and I have fun playing for
them,’’ she said. ‘‘When I get to perform and make people feel good,
that makes me satisfied in knowing that this was the right path for
me to take.”
Her musical path has led her to the support of many
different people over the years.
“In college my professors pushed me to be the best I
could be. I am grateful every day for those who encouraged me on
Other teachers encouraged her along the way as she
learned each instrument – Judy White, Terry Shaffner, Lois Bordner
and Joe Bartello.
But Mace believes the most important encouragement
came from her mother. Pirjo and her older siblings were adopted from
Canada when she was 5.
“We were adopted into a family where God and music
was the core of our being as we grew up,” Mace said.
Her mother, a piano teacher, taught a 5-year-p;d
Pirjo how to play.
“Her encouragement from a young age drove me to learn
whatever I could to pursue some type of career in music,” Mace said.
According to Carol Mace, her daughter had a natural
talent for music as a child. And two siblings – a sister, Debbie,
and a brother, Terry – shared the same interest and talent. Because
her children had a strong desire to learn, she gave them every
opportunity to pursue music:
“Music has helped them to grow and it gave them
confidence in themselves,” she explained.
Pirjo Mace believes music has the power to affect
people in many ways. No matter what the occasion, it can create a
sense of community among people of so many different walks of life.
“That moment in time when everyone has joined
together, they are all there for the same reason, but the music
moves everyone in their own way. That feeling is like no other.”