Music Director

A Message from Lars

I am thrilled to start my eighth year as music director at Bethesda. We have a busy and varied season ahead of us, with vibrant worship and another season of the Bethesda Music Series, featuring great artists from New Haven and around the world. I look forward to several projects with choirs from our neighbor churches. As usual, the Sunday morning leadership provided by our dedicated choir will constitute the core of our music program. Bethesda continues to provide a rich liturgical worship experience, filled with meaningful preaching, music, and fellowship. Ask a friend to come to one of our services or programs this year, or invite someone to try out our choir! Bethesda is a great community and we will offer our best in worship for yet another season!
Lars Gjerde, Director of Music


Lars Gjerde, from Aure, Norway, earned his doctoral degree in organ performance with Profs. David Higgs and Hans Davidsson at the Eastman Lars GjerdeSchool of Music in Rochester, New York, where he also received a master’s degree and the Sacred Music Diploma. Lars studied harpsichord and improvisation with Dr. William Porter and jazz piano with Prof. Tony Caramia. He taught secondary organ lessons at Eastman and sang with the Christ Church Schola Cantorum under Stephen Kennedy. Lars received degrees in music and German from Augustana University (Sioux Falls, South Dakota) and the Edvard Grieg Academy of Music (Bergen, Norway). At Augustana, Lars served as the Chapel Organist, sang with the concert and chamber choirs, and accompanied choral and opera ensembles. He was Organist and Choir Director at First Methodist Church in Bergen, where he also sang with the distinguished Bergen Domkantori under Magnar Mangersnes. Lars was Second National Winner in the Music Teachers National Association Collegiate Organ Competition, and he earned Honorable Mention in the Reuter/Augustana Arts National Undergraduate Organ Competition. He has won numerous music and academic scholarships. Lars has participated in academies and performed around America and Europe, and he has played on the National Public Radio show Pipedreams! Lars is Director of Music at Bethesda Lutheran Church in New Haven, Connecticut, where he has also been chapter dean and regional convention coordinator for the American Guild of Organists. He performs and teaches privately through Encore Music Creations. Recent academic and artistic appearances include the EROI Organ Festival, Yale University, Augustana University, DePauw University, and the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists. Lars’s research on Egil Hovland and the avant-garde in Norwegian organ music has been featured in the Norwegian Church Music magazine. Lars was a visiting instructor at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music and serves as a volunteer EMT at Trumbull EMS. Lars is an RN and studies critical care at the Yale School of Nursing. You can contact Lars at