When Drew Robertson opened his violin studio in Manassas Park, he had no idea what God had in store for him.
In 2016, he decided to take the plunge and start his own studio after earning a master’s degree from the University of Rochester’s Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. After saving every penny, he sold almost everything he owned, packing up the rest. business in his Mini Cooper and moved to Virginia to pursue his dream of opening a studio. But soon after, with only $60 in his bank account and months without students, he was ready to give up. That’s when Rebekah Daly and her daughter Adelaide entered.
The mother and daughter had been praying together for a year in hopes of finding the perfect violin teacher. There was an instant connection when they met. Rebekah spread the word in the Catholic community and soon the studio was filled with Catholic families.
Robertson said it was through the testimony of his students and the testimony of their families that he began to be drawn to the Catholic faith.
“Kids are just very honest,” he said. “When they seek the truth and practice the faith, that is the greatest testimony.”
Raised a Southern Baptist in a family strong in faith, Robertson drifted away from religion after a church pastor was caught embezzling money. In high school and college, he only went there when he was paid to play music.
It was this music that brought him back to faith. As he taught his Catholic students, he noticed that there was a diligence in practice, an attitude toward service, and a quality of concentration in prayer that he had not experienced elsewhere. I found a “devoted group of studio parents and a complete absence of mother tigers,” Robertson said.
The pivotal moment in his conversion came in 2019, when Jon Laird, music director of Saint-Timothée de Chantilly church, hired him to play for a wedding. Robertson does over a hundred weddings a year, and he had noticed something different about Catholic weddings, but this one was particularly special.
The two Hispanic families present at the wedding were filled with overwhelming joy to “celebrate the creation of a new family”. Father James Searby, parochial vicar, preached the homily and Robertson felt the priest was speaking directly to him. After mass he approached Father Searby and asked what it would take to join the church.
Robertson began the Adult Christian Initiation Rite with Father Christopher Tipton at Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Potomac Shores, where he replaced the music department. Her godfather, James Florio, works in the school’s religion department. James and Leigh Florio’s 15-year-old daughter, Eva, had been taught by Robertson for the past five years. Leigh described him as “a good servant” and early recognized his respect for two things: classical music and the beauty of the Catholic Mass.
The families of Robertson students, many of whom attend All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas and Holy Trinity Church in Gainesville, discover an excellent educational institution, but one dedicated to community action and service. Robertson is a paramedic and will become a firefighter in Dale City in June. It leads students to perform at community events ranging from religious and patriotic markets to farmers markets.
Robertson was confirmed April 16 at the Easter Vigil at St. Timothy’s Church with St. Hildegard of Bingen as patron saint because she advanced music, biology, healing, diplomacy and was “completely fearless about everything”.
Laird led Robertson’s fiddle students in a surprise rendition of the recession anthem, “Jesus Christ Is Risen Today.” He said Robertson challenges him to remember that there is “no better use of our musical talents than the liturgy.”
Cook is a freelancer in Warrenton.