Lynne Griffith has followed an unconventional path on her way to becoming executive director of the Carroll County Arts Council.
“When I was in kindergarten, my older sister wanted to take piano lessons. I was not interested but my mother said that if they bought a piano, both my sister and I would have to take lessons. It turned out that I loved playing the piano and was good at it,” Griffith said.
“When I was in the music class in fourth grade at Carrolltown Elementary, they showed us a film strip of instruments. I told my mother I wanted to play an English horn” Griffith said. “My mother investigated and found out that the school did not have an English horn, so she got me a French horn instead. I wound up playing the French horn and it turns out I was good at that, too.”
“When I was a junior in high school, I transferred to the Baltimore School for the Arts,” Griffith said. “It is a magical wonderful place. That is when I decided what I wanted to do forever.”
“I did my undergraduate work at Southern Methodist University on scholarship. At SMU, I was a university scholar and had to take a varied curriculum. That is when I started learning about art history, my favorite subject in college. I was so glad I was exposed to it because it has colored the lens through which I see the world. They were my most influential classes.”
Griffith received a master’s degree in music with a concentration in musicology at the University of North Texas. Musicology is the study and research of music history. She focused on 19th century France and early instruments before the horn had valves. She played the natural horn, a French horn that was round at that time. To change the notes, the player had to change the shape of their hand. It was not until the 1860s that they started playing a valved French horn. “UNT was also where I was first introduced to jazz, one of the great loves of my life.”
While working on her doctorate at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore, she had an opportunity to go to Singapore and played with the Singapore Symphony. Griffith said that “by the time I was 24 years old, I performed on four continents. I traveled to South America, Mexico, Scandinavia and England for five years. Playing in orchestras, introduced me to the entire world.”
“I was so fortunate to have all those experiences. When you go someplace that is foreign, it really changes the way you look at life. It humanizes the rest of the world for you,” Griffith said.
After Singapore, she became an artist in residence in Pittsburgh and played with the American Wind Symphony for a year. When she had her first son, she was a stay-at-home mom for a while. Then she started a children’s music business and provided music instruction to day care centers and preschools.
Griffith also started teaching at McDaniel College as an adjunct professor in the music department. “I love teaching. I teach French horn and play chamber music with my colleagues. It has been such a great opportunity and has afforded me the ability to stay in the music world while working on my career as a grant’s administrator.”
Griffith served as the assistant director at the Center for Space Sciences and Technology, one of the largest research centers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, managing grant funds and 85 scientists for the Center for Research and Exploration in Science and Technology, a cooperative agreement between NASA/Goddard, the University of Maryland, UMBC and other universities, until she retired in 2019. The scientists who work for CRESST make components that go into large-array telescopes and perform data analysis.
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She decided to explore the nonprofit sector and took a job as the grants and contracts administrator at the Maryland Coalition of Families in Columbia. From there, she went to the Lieber Brain Institute as a contract administrator.
Now she is the director of the Carroll County Arts Council. “My path is unorthodox. I have forged a different trail and I have loved everything I have done. Life is a giant opportunity to learn and grow. It is exciting for me to be here. There is so much to learn and explore,” Griffith said.
“I am fortunate because Sandy Oxx, the director who established the current theater and galleries, built such an amazing place. I have that incredible foundation to build on. The Carroll County Arts Council is an institution in Westminster. My goal is to expand our reach, so we are the county arts council and have a presence in all municipalities,” Griffith explained.
“Next year we are going to have two traveling exhibits and rotate them through different locations in the county. We are going to partner with the library to bring adult education and child art education to the library in the forms of workshops, classes and events,” Griffith said. “My excellent arts education in the Carroll County Public School System opened up a whole world of possibilities to me. I think the arts council should be a vehicle to expose children to that new world.”
“I hope to establish satellite gallery locations in other parts of the county. Then people will have access to events everywhere,” Griffith concluded.
The Carroll County Arts Council is at 91 W. Main St., in Westminster.
Lyndi McNulty is the owner of Gizmo’s Art in Westminster. Her column, An Eye for Art, appears regularly in Life & Times.