Organist and composer Chelsea Chen (b. 1983) is internationally renowned for her concerts of “rare musicality” and “lovely lyrical grandeur,” and a compositional style that is “charming” and “irresistible” (Los Angeles Times). Chelsea Chen has electrified audiences throughout the United States, Europe, Australia, and Asia in venues such as Singapore’s Esplanade, Hong Kong’s Cultural Centre, Kishinev’s National Organ Hall, and Philadelphia’s Kimmel Center. As a composer she is broadening the classical organ repertoire with her own works based on Asian folksongs. Ms. Chen has soloed with orchestras throughout the world including the Wuhan Philharmonic in China, the Jakarta Simfonia in Indonesia, and the Juilliard Percussion Orchestra in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall. She has additionally performed under the baton of eminent conductors such as Jahja Ling, JoAnn Falletta, and Victor Yampolsky. Committed to new music, she has premiered works by composers throughout the world including Ola Gjeilo (Norway/USA), Yui Kitamura (Japan/USA), Paul Desenne (Venezuela), Roderick Gorby (USA), and Andreas Kleinert (Germany). Ms. Chen has received acclaim as a composer since she premiered her own “Taiwanese Suite” (2003) and “Taiwan Tableaux” (2007) at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in San Diego. Her oeuvre of solo and chamber music pieces have been performed throughout the U.S., Europe, Canada, Asia, and Australia. “Jasmine Fantasy” (for violin, organ, and strings), has been performed by orchestras in the United States, China, and Indonesia. Ms. Chen’s works have been repeatedly featured at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists. The recipient of the 2009 Lili Boulanger Memorial Award and winner of the 2005 Augustana/Reuter National Organ Competition, Ms. Chen is a graduate of Juilliard, where she received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She was also a full scholarship recipient at Yale University, where she earned an Artist Diploma. Her major organ teachers included Thomas Murray, John Weaver, Paul Jacobs, Monte Maxwell and Leslie Robb, and her primary piano teachers included Baruch Arnon, Jane Bastien and Lori Bastien Vickers. Ms. Chen has recorded multiple CDs: Reveries (2011) at Bethel University, Live at Heinz Chapel at the 2005 Convention of the American Institute of Organbuilders, Eastern Treasures with violinist Lewis Wong in 2010, and Live at Choral Ridge in 2014. Her playing has been aired on CNN.com, “Pipedreams” from American Public Media, Hawaii Public Radio, and Taiwan’s Good News Radio. Her compositions are exclusively available from Wayne Leupold. In 2014 she became Organist and Artist-in-Residence at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. She splits her time between Florida and New York, where she is also Artist-in-Residence at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Manhattan.
Session: Body Mapping, Monday Morning Rhonda Cassano has been a member of the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra since 1979, is currently the flute instructor at the University of North Florida, and has served as flute instructor at Jacksonville University. She is an active recitalist and chamber musician, founder of Sound Effects: Music at MOCA, Synergy Chamber Ensemble, the St. Johns Chamber Players and the St. Mark’s Bach Ensemble. She has appeared as a soloist with the Jacksonville Symphony on numerous occasions. She holds a Master of Music degree from Florida State University where she studied with Charlie DeLaney. In subsequent years she studied with Geoffrey Gilbert, former principal flutist with the Royal Philharmonic under Sir Thomas Beecham, and in master classes with the acclaimed British flutist and former solo flutist with St. Martin in the Fields, William Bennett. In 1987 and 2000, she was a winner of the National Flute Association’s newly published music performer’s competition, and has appeared several times as soloist at the NFA conventions. She was awarded an artist-fellow to the 1989 Bach Aria Festival and has participated in the Amelia Island Chamber Music Festival and the Colorado Music Festival. She is a licensed Andover Educator and teacher of Body Mapping, a system developed to help musicians perform with efficient, graceful, coordinated and effective movement.
Laura Ellis is an associate professor of music in the School of Music at the University of Florida. Dr. Ellis teaches undergraduate and graduate organ, harpsichord, and carillon. In addition to her duties as university organist, she serves oversees the Andrew Anderson Memorial Pipe Organ in the University Auditorium, the carillon in the Century Tower, and the historic keyboard instruments housed in the School of Music.A native of Minnesota, Ellis is a magna cum laude graduate of Luther College (Decorah, Iowa) and holds a Master of Music degree in church music and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance from the University of Kansas. Her major organ teachers have been William Kuhlman and James Higdon. While in residence at the University of Kansas, she studied carillon with Albert Gerken. Prior to her Florida appointment, Ellis served as professor of music at McMurry University and held the position of parish organist at the Episcopal Church of the Heavenly Rest in Abilene, Texas. Ellis began her teaching career at the University of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.
Ellis is active in the American Guild of Organists (AGO) and has served as Regional Councillor for Region IV (Southeast). A carillonneur member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America (GCNA), Ellis is on the organization’s board of the directors and serves as director of the Music and Publications Committee.
Recital engagements as organist have included appearances with the Jacksonville (FL) Symphony, Piccolo Spoleto (Charleston, SC), Westminster Abbey, University of Sydney (Australia) and various locations throughout Florida, Texas, and the South. In January 2010, Ellis performed a solo recital for the Region IV regional convention in Sarasota, Florida.
Rev. Mary Conley Holladay has been the Minister of Music and Organist at Jacksonville's First United Methodist Church since 2011, planning worship services, directing the Sanctuary and Handbell Choirs and playing the organ for Sunday morning worship. She earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from West Virginia University, Magna Cum Laude, winning the Young Artist Award, and a Masters Degree in Church Music from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, receiving the Organ Performance Award. Mary has served churches in Kentucky, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida and is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians. She is a performing artist, with organ recitals in the southeast including three performances at Jacksonville's Jacoby Hall.
The young American musician Christopher Houlihan is widely acknowledged as one of the brightest stars in the new generation of organists, praised by the media as “gifted” (New York Times), “dazzling” (Wall Street Journal), and “eloquent” (Los Angeles Times). Still in his 20's, Houlihan's international performing career is well underway, having performed in celebrated venues in major cities across North America and Europe, as well as at numerous conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society.
Christopher Houlihan's “Vierne2012” tour attracted international attention and critical acclaim for his marathon performances of the six organ symphonies of Louis Vierne in six major North American cities. The Los Angeles Times called his performance there “a major surprise of the summer, a true revelation.” Houlihan returns to Los Angeles in Fall 2014 for his debut at Disney Hall in a concert which features principal brass of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Houlihan studied with Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs at The Juilliard School, where he earned a master's degree, and with John Rose at Trinity College (Hartford). During a year in France, he studied with Jean-Baptiste Robin at the Versailles Conservatory earning the "Prix de Perfectionnement,” an award equivalent to a university artist diploma. While abroad he performed for the then President and First Lady of the United States, Mr. and Mrs. George W. Bush at the American Cathedral in Paris.
Houlihan's recordings include music of Maurice Durufle and Jehan Alain, and Organ Symphony No. 2 by Louis Vierne, both on Towerhill Records. Houlihan lives in New York City, and is Artist-in-Residence at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.
Christopher Jacobson, FRCO, is Duke University Chapel Organist and Organist at Duke Divinity School. At Duke he instituted and oversees the Chapel Organ Scholar Program and directs the Evensong Singers in weekly Sunday afternoon Choral Evensong in Duke Chapel. Before assuming his position, Jacobson was Associate Organist at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, and Assistant Organist at Washington National Cathedral where he assisted in training of the cathedral choirs and playing the organ for over 200 choral services annually. As a soloist, Mr. Jacobson has presented organ recitals across North America, Europe, and Australia. He has won top prizes in numerous organ competitions including the National Young Artist Competition of the American Guild of Organists, the Miami International Organ Competition, and the John R. Rodland Competition in sacred music. In addition to performances of the organ works of César Franck and Maurice Duruflé, he has presented recitals of the complete organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach on several occasions across the United States. As an accompanist he has accompanied choirs on tours to Saint Thomas Church in New York City, Canterbury and Durham Cathedrals in England, the American Cathedral in Paris, and the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy. An active continuo artist, Mr. Jacobson appears regularly with the early music ensemble Three Notch’d Road in Charlottesville, Virginia, and with the North Carolina Baroque Orchestra. A Fellow of the Royal College of Organists (FRCO), Mr. Jacobson holds the Master of Music degree in Organ Performance and the Sacred Music Diploma from the Eastman School of Music as well as a Bachelor of Music degree with distinction in Organ Performance from St. Olaf College. His teachers have included David Higgs and William Porter at Eastman, and John Ferguson at St. Olaf College. Christopher is a graduate of Woodberry Forest and the American Boychoir School where he was a treble chorister under James Litton
Boyd Jones is university organist and John E. and Aliese Price Professor of Organ at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. He performs extensively throughout the United States on both organ and harpsichord. Recent seasons have included performances for two regional conventions of the American Guild of Organists, the national convention of The Organ Historical Society, a conclave of the Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society and the national convention of the Music Teachers National Association. Many recitals have been performed for colleges and universities, AGO chapters and churches from California to Maine to Florida. Engagements abroad have included recitals in Japan, and in 2007 a series of recitals in Bulgaria. Additionally, he has performed frequently as both organ and harpsichord soloist, and as a continuo player with several prominent orchestras. Author of articles for numerous publications, Jones was the American correspondent for the English journal Choir and Organ, providing articles on American organ builders in each issue for three years. He has also served as consultant for several significant organ projects. Jones holds a bachelor of music degree from Stetson University, where his organ teacher was Paul Jenkins, and master of music, master of musical arts and doctor of musical arts from Yale University, where he studied organ with Charles Krigbaum and harpsichord with Richard Rephann. He served as assistant university organist and graduate teaching assistant during his time at Yale University. He has also studied with Harald Vogel at the North German Organ Academy and with Robert Noehren. Jones has won both national and international organ performance competitions. He has recorded for Arkay Records, Clear Note Records, and Navona Records, and is represented by WindWerk Artists.
Jan Kraybill is Principal Organist for the Dome and Spire Organ Foundation, an affiliate of the international headquarters of Community of Christ, in Independence, Missouri, and Organ Conservator at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City. She regularly plays and oversees the care of the Kansas City metro area's three largest pipe organs: Community of Christ Auditorium’s 113-rank Aeolian-Skinner (installed in 1959) and Temple’s 102-rank Casavant (1993), and the 102-rank Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant (2012) in the Kauffman Center’s Helzberg Hall. At Community of Christ, Dr. Kraybill and volunteer staff organists provide music for worship services and present free organ demonstration recitals at the Auditorium and Temple, a 55-year tradition in these venues. Jan also leads international hymn festivals, teaches workshops, and is a resource person for the denomination’s musicians. At the Kauffman Center, she performs and hosts guest organists in both solo and collaborative musical events. Jan has piano performance and education degrees from Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, and a doctorate in organ performance from the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance. In 2010 she earned the Fellow certificate from the American Guild of Organists (AGO), the highest certification available for organists. While in high school in Colby, Kansas, Jan was invited to perform her first European piano recital in Andover, England. Since then she has performed in many venues in the United States and in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Poland, Russia, South Korea, The Netherlands, and Tahiti, and she has undertaken multiple tours of the United Kingdom, including organ concerts at the grand cathedrals of Chester, Exeter, and St. Paul’s in London. Her most recent trip to the United Kingdom included designing and leading a hymn festival at the International Gathering of Hymn Societies at Cambridge University. Jan has performed for regional and national conventions of the AGO, the Hymn Society in the U.S. and Canada, and other musicians’ organizations, and has been featured on Kansas Public Radio and on American Public Media’s nationally broadcast program Pipedreams. She has collaborated as pianist, harpsichordist and organist with many ensembles, including the Bach Aria Soloists, the Phoenix Chorale, the Kansas City Chorale, and the Kansas City Symphony and Symphony Chorus. Four solo CDs are available. Two by 2: Two Organ Symphonies on Two Magnificent Organs features both of Community of Christ’s pipe organs. Rejoice and Remember: Piano Music for All Seasons contains arrangements of favorite hymns. The Auditorium Organ: Fifty Years of Excellence celebrated that organ’s 50th anniversary in 2009. The first CD of the Julia Irene Kauffman Casavant is Organ Polychrome, released by Reference Recordings in 2014. She has recorded for Reference on several occasions with the Kansas City Symphony; the most recent, Grammy-nominated, disc contains Saint-Saëns' “Organ” Symphony, released in June 2015. Jan is a musical leader in Kansas City and beyond, as a performer, educator, organ consultant, and cheerleader for the power of music to change lives for the better. She has served in many elected local, regional, and national roles in the AGO, The Hymn Society, and the Master Teacher Institute. She teaches workshops on fostering personal creativity. She is a member of Mensa. Her extra-musical interests include antiquing, lace making, and riding her Harley-Davidson with her husband, Allan.
Don McCullough is the director of the Jacksonville Symphony Chorus. During his tenure with the Master Chorale of Washington, the ensemble became the chorus of choice for the National Symphony Orchestra and performed with such renowned conductors as Leonard Slatkin, Kurt Masur and Ivan Fischer. Previously, McCullough was the founder and music director of the Virginia Chorale and the Virginia Symphony Orchestra Chorus.McCullough is also a composer whose works have been critically acclaimed throughout the United States, Canada and Europe. Among his celebrated works: the Holocaust Cantata, based on songs found in the archives of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum that were written by the inmates of Nazi concentration camps, this cantata takes you on an emotional journey through one of the bleakest episodes in human history.
Born in Cardiff, Wales, Dr. Iain Quinn enjoys a distinguished career as an organist, musicologist, and composer. He began his study of the organ with Robert Court and Nicolas Kynaston, having already studied the piano and trumpet. In 1994, he moved to the US to pursue advanced study at The Juilliard School, The Hartt School, University of Hartford, (BM, summa cum laude), and the Institute of Sacred Music, Yale University (MM). His principal teachers were John Weaver, Larry Allen, Thomas Murray, William Porter (improvisation) and Nathan Williamson (composition). In 2009, he returned to the UK as a Doctoral Fellow at the University of Durham during which time he was also a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University. He completed his PhD (Historical Musicology) in 2012.
At age fourteen, he became the youngest person ever appointed Organist at St. Michael’s Theological College, Llandaff. Since that time, he has held college, church and cathedral positions in Durham (UK), New York, Connecticut and New Mexico, respectively, and taught at the Blackheath Conservatoire, London, and Western Connecticut State University. He has given lectures and conference papers in the UK, Europe, and North America including papers for the Royal Musical Association-Society for Musicology in Ireland, and the American Musicological Society.
Dr. Quinn has given regular performances in many of the world’s most important centers, including those in London, Cambridge, Oxford, Haarlem, Berlin, Lisbon, Melbourne, Moscow, Washington, DC, New York and Hong Kong. He has also performed at many international festivals, including Tender is the North (Barbican Centre, London), Cambridge Summer Music (UK), Basically Bach (New York), Festival Barocco (Rome), Closer to Bach (Gdansk), 31 Days of Organ Music (Krakow), Dark Days Music Festival (Reykjavik), Dundee Summer Festival (Scotland), Cardiff Festival (Wales), Welsh Arts Festival (San Francisco), Orgue et Couleurs (Montreal) and Göteborg International Organ Academy, Sweden.
The recipient of numerous honors, Dr. Quinn was awarded a Fellowship by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to research the historic organs of Brazil, an award from The Prince’s Trust to further cultural exchange within the European Union, and has been the recipient of a Louise Dyer award from Musica Britannica and a grant from the Music & Letters Trust. Scholarly writings have been published in Tempo, MLA Notes, Journal of Victorian Culture,Interpreting Historical Keyboard Music (Ashgate), and in editions of Samuel Barber and Carl Czerny published by G. Schirmer and A-R Editions, respectively. Profiles of his work have been featured in Choir and Organ magazine, The Organ and Organists’ Review.
Raúl Prieto Ramírez
Raúl Prieto Ramírez is the first Spanish organist in recent times to establish himself among the elites of the international concert scene. His powerful personality, passionate expressiveness, gift for communication, and outstanding technique make him shine with a unique light. Mr. Ramírez discovered the organ by chance on a radio program when he was 11 years old and taught himself to play, first by practicing on tables, and later by making his own arrangements and transcriptions of major works to play on a little Casio keyboard. After studies in Spain where he received the highest distinctions and awards, he moved to Stuttgart on a scholarship from the German government to study organ performance with Ludger Lohmann. At the same time, he was developing a new personal organ technique based on the ideas of the pianist Leonid Sintsev of the prestigious St. Petersburg piano school at the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. He also worked on interpretation of the different schools of organ literature with leading teachers such as Marie-Claire Alain, Guy Bovet, Eric Lebrun, Lionel Rogg, Zsigmond Szathmáry, and Luigi Ferdinando Tagliavini. As a result of his enthusiastic and varied studies, Mr. Ramírez possesses a wide and deep knowledge of organ repertoire, styles, and schools. He is respected as a specialist in such disparate subjects as old fingering techniques and modern symphonic transcriptions. Among these last, his transcriptions of Liszt’s piano études and Mephisto waltzes have been praised by audiences and critics alike in Italy, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Critics have also highly praised his interpretations of the music of Bach, Franck, and Reger. Mr. Ramírez was appointed at age 27 as the first Organist-in-Residence of the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid—Spain’s National Concert Hall. Within the first six months of his appointment, he increased attendance at the hall’s organ recitals by a multiple of 30, and critics hailed him as one of the most exciting talents in the music scene in Spain. Since September 2013, Mr. Ramírez has been a member of the music faculty at Ball State University. He continues as the artistic director of the annual summer International Organ Festival Mataró-Barcelona, where he attracts audiences of more than 1,200 people to his concerts. He also pursues a busy concert schedule that takes him to major festivals and concert halls around the world—from St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater and the Moscow Concert Hall, to organ dedications, AGO conventions, Spivey Hall, the Kotzschmar Organ Series, and Methuen Memorial Music Hall in the United States. Mr. Ramírez has been widely recorded and interviewed for radio and television in several European countries and in America. His first two compact discs, on the Brilliant Classics label, were recorded at Milan Cathedral in Italy and at the famous Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona. In Dúo MusArt-Barcelona he joins his wife, pianist Maria Teresa Sierra Martínez, in an organ and piano performance team which has experienced growing popularity at home in Spain as well as elsewhere in Europe. She is a graduate of the St. Petersburg Conservatory in Russia. The duo has recorded for the Brilliant Classics label, and made its American debut at the Methuen Music Hall in Massachusetts.
Dr. Cara Tasher, soprano, has served as Director of Choral Activities and Associate Professor of Voice at the University of North Florida since 2006. She has performed and recorded with conductors Claudio Abbado, Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, James Levine, Robert Shaw and Sir Georg Solti. As a singer, chorus master and/or conductor, Tasher has been professionally associated with the Atlanta Symphony Chorus, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Conspirare, Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, Mexico City's Opera deBellas Artes, Portugal's Vocalizze Festival, Trinity Choir-Wall Street, Xavier University and the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. Proficient in several languages, Tasher's engagements as both a singer and a conductor have brought her to nearly ten states and twenty countries for concerts, festivals, workshops, or as a featured soloist. International awareness is a focal point of her teaching. Her training took place in the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus, at the University of Cincinnati College’s Conservatory of Music, University of Texas at Austin, La Sorbonne, and Northwestern University. Dr. Tasher is active within the national and global community as an adjudicator, author, guest clinician, conductor and recitalist, and is affiliated with ACDA, IFCM, JSCA, MENC, NATS, and NCCO in varying capacities. She was awarded the 2010 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award at the University of North Florida and her students continue to thrive under the mentorship of the School of Music in Jacksonville.
Tim Tuller serves as Canon for Music at St. John's Cathedral in Jacksonville. Tim earned his Bachelor of Music summa cum laude from Ithaca College, and Master of Music degree from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where he received the valedictory prize. Previously the Music Associate at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama, Tim has more than sixteen years of freelance service-playing experience in several Christian denominations. His principal organ teachers include Richard L. Shae, J. William Greene, Allison Evans-Henry, and Todd Wilson.