May 27, 2008
NEW YORK CITY — The American Guild of Organists (AGO) will honor three award winning composers at its Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 25, during the AGO National Convention in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minn. AGO President Frederick Swann will preside over the award presentations to Stephen Paulus of St. Paul, Minn.; and to Stephen R. Fraser and Rachel Laurin, both of Ontario, Canada.
The AGO DISTINGUISHED COMPOSER AWARD will be presented to Stephen Paulus. The prestigious award, created in 1986, is presented biennially to recognize outstanding composers of organ and choral music in the United States. Previous award recipients include: Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, Daniel Pinkham, Samuel Adler, Dominick Argento, William Albright, Conrad Susa, Emma Lou Diemer, Dan Locklair, William Bolcom, Alice Parker, Carl Schalk, Margaret Sandresky, and Richard Proulx.
The AGO/ECS PUBLISHING AWARD IN CHORAL COMPOSITION will be presented to Stephen R. Fraser for his anthem, Rejoice, the Lord is King. The text, written by Charles Wesley in 1741, is taken from The Sacred Harp, where it is set to the tune carmarthen. The award carries a cash prize of $2,000 and publication provided by the ECS Publishing Co., and a performance at the AGO National Convention.
The AGO AWARD IN ORGAN COMPOSITION will be presented to Rachel Laurin for her Prelude and Fugue in F Minor. The award carries a cash prize of $2,000 provided by the Holtkamp Organ Co., publication by Hinshaw Music Inc., and a performance at the AGO National Convention.
Stephen Fraser received his bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Toronto, where he studied organ with John Tuttle. In Toronto, he was the Bevan Organ Scholar at Trinity College Chapel, University of Toronto, and the Healey Willan Organ Scholar at the Church of St. Mary Magdalene. He completed a master’s degree at the Eastman School of Music, studying organ under Hans Davidsson, and was organist at St. Anne Church, working with Daniel Brondel. Mr. Fraser received a second master’s degree from Yale University, where he studied organ with Thomas Murray, improvisation with William Porter and Jeffrey Brillhart, and composition with Robinson McClellan. While at Yale, he served as organist in Marquand Chapel at the Yale Divinity School, accompanied the Yale Schola Cantorum, and worked as an organ scholar with organist-composer Paul Halley at Trinity Episcopal Church in Torrington, Conn.
Mr. Fraser is currently studying improvisation in Paris with Sophie-Véronique Chauchefer-Choplin and Thierry Escaich. He has won first prizes in the 1999 RCCO Toronto Centre Young Organists Competition and the 2004 Fort Wayne National Organ Competition, and was invited to compete in the 2006 Chartres International Organ Competition. He plans to return to North America this summer to continue his work in composition and organ improvisation.
Rachel Laurin, a native of St. Benoît, Quebec, completes a Canadian sweep of the AGO composition awards for the second consecutive cycle. Stephen R. Fraser won the 2008 AGO/ECS Publishing Award in Choral Composition, and Barrie Cabena won both prizes in 2006. Ms. Laurin studied at the Montreal Conservatory, principally with Raymond Daveluy. She has been an associate composer of the Canadian Music Centre since 1989. Her more than 50 works for various instruments and ensembles have been performed and recorded in North America, Europe, Asia, and South Africa. A complete CD devoted to her chamber music (Festivals) was recently released on the ATMA label. She is currently writing a piano concerto to be premiered during the 2008–2009 season. Her compositions are published by Les Éditions Lucarel (Canada), Europart-Music (France), Doberman (Canada), the RCCO, and Wayne Leupold Editions (U.S.).
Ms. Laurin has taught organ improvisation at the Montreal Music Conservatory and at the Summer School of Sacred Music in Épinal, France. In 2006, she was a faculty member at the Mount Royal International Summer School in Calgary. As an organist, she has won many awards, including the Prix Conrad-Letendre. From 1986 to 2002, she was associate organist at St. Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal, and from 2002 to 2006, she was titular organist at Notre-Dame Cathedral, Ottawa. She has performed organ recitals in major cities across Canada, the United States, and Europe, and has recorded for the Motette (Germany), Musicus, Musicus/Fidelio, Riche Lieu, SRC (Société Radio-Canada), Analekta, DJA (France), and BND labels.
Stephen Paulus (b.Aug. 24, 1949, New Jersey) grew up in Minnesota, receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music and his doctorate in composition (1978) from the University of Minnesota. He has served as composer-in-residence for the Minnesota Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, and the Dale Warland Singers. Paulus has also been a featured guest composer at the festivals of Aldeburgh, Aspen, Edinburgh, Santa Fe, and Tanglewood. He currently resides in St. Paul, Minn.
One of the few American composers who support themselves solely on commissions, Paulus has published more than 300 works in all genres, including organ, piano, chamber ensembles, chorus, solo voice, concert band, orchestra, and opera. His distinguished body of organ music includes three of the most successful concertos written in the past 25 years. He has also composed two organ duets (one commissioned for the 1996 AGO National Convention) and six solo pieces.
Paulus’s choral works—including the monumental three-part Visions of Hildegard, two Masses, and other pieces for choir and orchestra—have been performed and recorded by some of the best-known ensembles in the United States. Among these are the New York Concert Singers, the Dale Warland Singers, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, the Robert Shaw Festival Singers, the New Music Group of Philadelphia, the Master Chorale of Washington, D.C., the Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, the Ars Nova Singers of Boulder, Colo., and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Considered one of today’s pre-eminent composers of opera, Paulus has written nine works for the dramatic stage. The Postman Always Rings Twice, the first American opera to be presented at the Edinburgh Festival, has received nine productions to date. Commissions and performances have come from such companies as the Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Washington Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Berkshire Opera Company, Minnesota Opera, and Fort Worth Opera, as well as many universities and colleges.
Paulus’s orchestral works have been commissioned by the New York Philharmonic, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, with subsequent performances by the Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and St. Louis orchestras, the National Symphony Orchestra, and the BBC Radio Orchestra. He has been commissioned to write for some of the world’s great soloists, including Thomas Hampson, Håkan Hagegård, Doc Severinsen, William Preucil, Cynthia Phelps, Evelyn Lear, Leo Kottke, and Robert McDuffie. Chamber music commissions include those from the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Friends of Music at the Supreme Court, the Cleveland Quartet, and the Arizona Friends of Chamber Music.
A recipient of both Guggenheim and NEA fellowships, Paulus has been noted as a strong advocate for the music of his colleagues. In 1973, with Libby Larsen, he co-founded the Minnesota Composers Forum, now the American Composers Forum. He is currently vice president of that group, which is the world’s largest composer service organization. Paulus also serves on the ASCAP board of directors as the Concert Music Representative, a post he has held since 1990.
The AMERICAN GUILD OF ORGANISTS is the national professional association serving the organ and choral music fields. Founded in 1896 as both an educational and service organization, it sets and maintains high musical standards and promotes the understanding and appreciation of all aspects of organ and choral music. The mission of the AGO is to enrich lives through organ and choral music. The Guild currently serves approximately 19,000 members in more than 300 local chapters throughout the United States and abroad. The American Organist Magazine, the official journal of the AGO and the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America, reaches an audience of more than 20,000 readers each month.
This information is submitted by F. Anthony Thurman, Director of Development and Communications at the National Headquarters of the American Guild of Organists and The American Organist Magazine. For further information, please contact Dr. Thurman by TEL (212) 870-2310, FAX (212) 870-2163 or E-MAIL email@example.com.