Meet our music directors
Matt Noykos likes to make music – literally. He builds stringed instruments in addition to playing the piano and cello. His wife, Sonja, enjoys playing the flute and teaching music. Together, they share a Scandinavian background and are the new directors of the music ministry at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
“We are blessed by their energy, empathy, experience, and liturgical sensitivity,” Pastor Jay said, “It is a gift to have them as an important part of our staff.”
Matt has extensive experience as a church pianist and organist. He has held jobs in churches since he was in sixth grade. He has a Bachelor of Music from Grand Valley State University, a Master of Music in bass performance from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and is a graduate of the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City. His focus now is repairing, restoring, making, and selling string instruments and bows. He has opened a business, Grand Rapids Violins.
And Matt has a yen that ties in with his Swedish heritage. “I want to make a nyckelharpa,” he said. (It’s a traditional Swedish stringed folk instrument.)
Sonja, whose father was a Lutheran pastor, played flute often in her dad’s church. As a child, she spent five years in Norway when her dad’s church was there. Later she was co-music director with Matt at a UCC church in Salt Lake City, and was involved in the music ministries at their church in Raleigh, N.C. Sonya has a Bachelor of Music in flute performance from Cincinnati. A freelance flutist, Sonya taught flute lessons and directed flute choirs. Her current focus is early childhood music education. and she has been a Music Together teacher for several years. “I love teaching the program,” she said.
Matt and Sonja moved to Grand Rapids in June 2014, and joined Bethlehem that fall. “We enjoyed the music, found the sermons meaningful, and appreciated the focus the church had on social justice,” Sonja said.
She and Matt have a daughter, Lucia, 3, and a son, Theodore, born in late April.
Sonja said she and Matt look forward to deepening their ties with Bethlehem’s congregation. “We hope to grow in faith with you through the music in worship.”
Here’s a verse from one of Sonja’s favorite hymns, “My Life Flows On in Endless Song” (ELW 763):
My life flows on in endless song; above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far-off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?