The Class of 2019: 20 leaders under the age of 30

April 30, 2019

Matthew Buller

Matthew Buller is a native of Lake Charles, Louisiana, and a candidate for the Artist Diploma at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, Ohio, where he studies with Arvid Gast. He earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music degrees from Oberlin in May 2017, where he had the privilege of studying with organists such as Nathan Laube, Liuwe Tamminga, Jean-Baptiste Robin, and Marie-Louise Langlais, in addition to his regular studies with James David Christie and Jonathan Moyer. He also studied harpsichord under Webb Wiggins and fortepiano under David Breitman. Since 2017, Matthew has been director of music and organist at Holy Family Catholic Church in Parma, Ohio. As a performer, he has performed extensively around the United States, in Montreal, Québec, and in Paris, France. He also performed on the 2015 Danenburg Honors Recital, in addition to performing on the Songsun Lee Memorial Concert in Vero Beach, Florida, in 2016.

An interesting fact: I am a collector of old organ scores and old hymnals.

Proudest achievement: A major scholarship to study at Oberlin Conservatory and many opportunities in the world of church music.

Career aspirations and goals: I hope to be a director of music in a major cathedral and to perform large choral, orchestral, and organ Masses in their original context, namely during the Catholic Mass.

Katie Burk

Originally from Lawrence, Kansas, Katie Burk is an organist, conductor, vocalist, and composer pursuing the Doctor of Music degree in organ performance at Indiana University, where she is a student of Christopher Young. An active organ recitalist and choral clinician, she currently serves as music intern at Trinity Episcopal Church in Bloomington, Indiana, under the direction of Marilyn Keiser, where she directs and accompanies both youth and adult choral ensembles and coordinates the Evenings at Trinity music and liturgy series. Additionally, she teaches undergraduate aural skills courses at the IU Jacobs School of Music. She holds the Master of Music degree in organ from IU and Bachelor of Music degrees in organ and music education summa cum laude from Saint Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota, where she sang in the Saint Olaf Choir and studied organ with Catherine Rodland, conducting with Anton Armstrong and Christopher Aspaas, and voice with Karen Wilkerson. This summer, Katie will be a faculty member at both the Royal School of Church Music in America’s King’s College Training Course in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and the Presbyterian Association of Musicians Conference on Worship and Music at Montreat, North Carolina.

An interesting fact: I am an identical twin; my sister Maggie is a choral conductor and composer (who moonlights as an organist!) about to start her doctorate at the University of Michigan!

Proudest achievement: Though it’s still a little way off, I predict that once I finish everything up, I will be very happy to have earned a doctorate in organ (an instrument I didn’t play until college!). For the moment, however, I’m excited that my choral compositions are being performed in venues such as the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., and Saint Mark’s Church in Philadelphia!

Career aspirations and goals: Whether I find myself in academia or working as a church musician (or both), I’d like my job to be multifaceted. I’ve always enjoyed a wide variety of musical activities—playing the organ, conducting, singing, teaching, composing—and I hope to be in a setting where I can continue to pursue all of my interests!

Jared Cook

Jared D. Cook is a native of Houston, Texas, where he began his formal organ study at age seventeen with Stephen Morris. He is currently a junior organ performance and French major at Baylor University, where he studies with Isabelle Demers. In the 2018 William C. Hall Pipe Organ Competition, he was awarded first place in the undergraduate division, as well as the prize for outstanding hymn playing. During his sophomore year, he was selected as the organ division winner in the 2018 Baylor School of Music Semper Pro Musica Competition. An active recitalist, Jared has performed recitals at the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, New York City, Saint Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church, New York City, Christ Church Cathedral, Houston, among others.

Jared has served as organ scholar at Holy Spirit Episcopal Church in Houston and as principal organist at Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church, Waco, Texas, where his responsibilities included accompanying the Chancel Choir and playing for services. Currently, he is serving as organ scholar at Preston Hollow Presbyterian Church, Dallas, Texas.

An interesting fact: I speak three languages (English, Spanish, and French) and enjoy traveling frequently!

Proudest achievement: I’m the proudest of making the organ accessible to non-organists. I enjoy showcasing the colors and abilities of the instrument, and helping people develop an appreciation for the organ.

Career aspirations and goals: I’d like to inspire people as a concert organist, pedagogue, and church musician. It is my goal to continue making the organ an accessible instrument and to give back to the community through music. I want to help educate others about the organ and help them develop a passion for the “King of Instruments.”

Carolyn Craig

Carolyn Craig of Knoxville, Tennessee, is the 2018–2019 organ scholar at Truro Cathedral in Truro, England, where her duties include playing for at least three Evensongs per week and training the youngest boy choristers daily. She will begin a Master of Music in organ performance in 2019. Carolyn graduated summa cum laude from Indiana University in 2018, where she held the Wells Scholarship and was one of five graduating seniors to receive the Elvis J. Stahr Award for leadership and academic excellence. Carolyn graduated with a Bachelor of Music in organ performance in the studio of Christopher Young with minors in conducting and German. While at Indiana University, Carolyn was organ scholar at Trinity Episcopal Church with Marilyn Keiser.

Carolyn began her keyboard studies as a pianist and performed in Carnegie Hall at age 14 as a winner of the American Protégé International Talent Competition. At the age of seventeen, Carolyn won the Region IV Quimby Competition for Young Organists and performed a Rising Star recital for the 2014 American Guild of Organists national convention in Boston, Massachusetts. She has since been heard on Pipedreams and in recital domestically and abroad, in venues such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, England.

An interesting fact: I love to sing. I study voice privately whenever I have the chance, currently with Margaret Kingsley, professor emerita of the Royal College of Music, and studied privately at Indiana University and, as a high school student, at the University of Tennessee. At Indiana University, I sang in Dominick DiOrio’s new music choir NOTUS, in the early music group CONCENTUS, for many colleagues’ composition premieres, and in the student-led chamber choir Burgundian Consort (Hannah McGinty, director). I have also done some musical theater and enjoy singing a cappella with the Choral Scholars of Truro Cathedral.

Proudest achievement: I’m proudest when my teaching is successful—when I see my organ students playing their first postlude, when the youngest boy choristers I train have their first solos, when theory concepts and sight singing click, and when community choirs get German vowels right.

Career aspirations and goals: I would like to be the choir director and organist at a church where vibrant children’s choir and adult choir programs provide a foundation for faith formation and contribute to a sense of community and where the standard for choral and organ music is excellence. Additionally, I would like to concertize as an organist and would like to perform as a collaborative pianist and professional choral soprano. I would also like to continue teaching organ lessons.

Bryan Dunnewald

Conductor and organist Bryan Dunnewald of Arvada, Colorado, has performed in numerous venues across the country, from the Washington National Cathedral to the Mormon Tabernacle. From 2015 to 2018, he served as organ scholar at Saint Mark’s Church, an Anglo-Catholic parish in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and as assistant organist at Macy’s (formerly Wanamaker’s) department store, giving frequent concerts on the largest organ in the world. Bryan enjoys collaborating with ensembles large and small and has performed with the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Colorado Symphony, the Curtis Symphony Orchestra, and numerous chamber ensembles as an organist and harpsichordist. As a conductor, Bryan has led a variety of ensembles, from orchestras at Curtis to choirs in Denver. He is an active composer and recently conducted the premiere of his Missa Brevis: Saint Mark with Saint Mark’s Parish Choir. Bryan currently lives in New York City where he pursues a master’s degree in orchestral conducting with David Hayes at the Mannes School of Music. He is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music and Interlochen Arts Academy, earning over the course of his studies the highest honors in music, academics, citizenship, and character. Bryan’s teachers and mentors include Alan Morrison, Robert McCormick, Jonathan Coopersmith, Leon Schelhase, Thomas Bara, Steve Larson, Martha Sandford-Heyns, and Joseph Galema. In the summer of 2018, he worked at Schoenstein & Co., developing his love of organbuilding as an apprentice to Jack Bethards.

An interesting fact: I love architecture and public transit. I have a very real dream to drive a bus one day.

Proudest achievement: My proudest professional moments are those in which I create something great with others. These achievements can be in- or outside of music. Some recent examples include conducting the premiere of my Missa Brevis at Saint Mark’s, working for years with administrators at Curtis to make positive changes to the orchestra program, conducting my friends at my graduation recital in a performance of one of my very favorite pieces, Poulenc’s Le Bal Masqué, and voicing my very first rank of pipes (with some success!) at Schoenstein.

Career aspirations and goals: I want a career in which I build something special. There are many disciplines that make me feel fulfilled, so I look for a career with variety, one where those disciplines complement each other. Being a leader and fostering an environment of healthy, serious artistry are important to me. Outside that I expect to have a career that involves, in some form, playing, conducting (orchestras and choirs), working with others, organbuilding, and bus driving (likely in retirement).


Daniel Ficarri

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Daniel Ficarri is a graduate student at The Juilliard School, studying with organist Paul Jacobs. Ficarri is recognized as a performer of both new music and standard classical repertoire—The New York Times listed his performance of John Cage’s Souvenir under the “Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments,” and WQXR broadcast his live all-Bach performance as part of their “Bach Organ Marathon.” He has performed around the country and at New York City’s Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, Saint Thomas Church, and Trinity Church Wall Street. His orchestral performances have included engagements with the Florida Orchestra and the Juilliard Orchestra in Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall. Ficarri has also composed extensively for the organ—his Exultation was commissioned by Choir & Organ magazine for the dedication of the Miller-Scott Organ at Saint Thomas Church. An active church musician, Ficarri is currently organ scholar at Church of Saint Paul the Apostle in Manhattan, where he founded the organ concert series “Sacred Sounds at Saint Paul’s.” Previously, he served as organ scholar at Hitchcock Presbyterian Church in Scarsdale, New York. For more information, and to purchase sheet music, visit

An interesting fact: I began my musical training as a violinist and studied privately for ten years. Though I no longer study the violin, I still have a great love of music for strings and orchestra and enjoy transcribing these works for organ.

Proudest achievement: I find the greatest satisfaction in composing my own works for the organ. My favorite of these compositions is Exultation, a fanfare. Composing allows me to push the limits of the instrument while sharing my unique voice.

Career aspirations and goals: I hope that my work is able to bring awareness to the potential of the organ and the enduring relevance of its music. Whether through performing, composing, or serving in churches, I hope that I am able to educate and inspire others to take interest in the voices of history’s great artists. The organ and its repertoire are greatly misunderstood—by the musically ignorant in society and also by the most advanced classical musicians. My greatest aspiration is to enlighten others, and in doing so, enrich their lives in some way.

Julian Goods

Raised in Chicago, Illinois, Julian J. Goods is a senior at the University of Michigan pursuing a Bachelor of Music degree in choral music education. He has a primary focus in voice and secondary focuses in pipe organ and conducting. Over the last few years, Goods has worked closely with the choral conducting and music education faculty to help find ways in which he can become a successful and effective teacher in schools with primarily African American student populations. In the fall, he will be starting a Master of Music degree in choral conducting at the University of Michigan. Goods serves as the music director for the Michigan Gospel Chorale and organist at both Hartford Memorial Baptist Church and Tabernacle Missionary Baptist Church in Detroit. He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association, and the National Association of Negro Musicians where he serves on the Collegiate Board and as the recording secretary for the Central Region.

An interesting fact: I am a proud Eagle Scout.

Proudest achievement: My proudest achievement is every time an ensemble or someone I work with experiences a success.

It would be very easy for me to say that my proudest achievement would be any of the awards, honors, or recognitions that I have collected over the years; however, there is one achievement that I am especially proud of. My proudest achievement is the work that I do as a student teacher within the Detroit Public Schools System. As a student teacher I have the opportunity to spend time engaging with and cultivating young minds. On a daily basis, I am able to sow into these young minds and work to provide them with the resources they need. I am the most proud when I am able to see these bright individuals take those resources and utilize them to work toward a successful future. I am a giver to my very core, and watching my students take what I give them and produce success is truly my proudest achievement to date.

Career aspirations and goals: My ultimate goal is to one day serve as the director of choral activities at a university/college where my focus would be to build a choir that will continue the strong tradition of Western European Classical music while constantly displaying the diverse repertoire of choral music from around the world.

Conner Kunz

Conner Kunz was born in Delta, Utah, to Mark and Beverly Kunz and has always had a fascination with music, the pipe organ, and large mechanical devices. He graduated from Delta High School and currently studies business management at Utah Valley University and also works with Bigelow & Co. organbuilders as a part-time craftsman. His main areas of interest in the organ world include the mechanical creation of the organ, as well as voicing and tuning of pipes, and he hopes to continue to broaden his skills in those areas.

An interesting fact: Before I was employed at Bigelow & Co. I was a high-end furniture maker.

Proudest achievement: My furniture can be seen internationally in the temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Career aspirations and goals: I hope to be able to take on the career of pipe organ building and more fully develop my capabilities in both the design and production of these beautiful instruments.

Colin MacKnight

Colin MacKnight is a third year C. V. Starr Doctoral Fellow at The Juilliard School, where he also completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He studies with Paul Jacobs, Grammy award winner and chair of the organ department, and is working on his dissertation entitled “Ex Uno Plures: A Proposed Completion of Bach’s Art of Fugue.” Colin also serves as associate organist and choirmaster at Cathedral of the Incarnation on Long Island. Before Incarnation, Colin was assistant organist and music theory teacher at Saint Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue.

Colin’s first prizes and scholarships include the 2017 West Chester University International Organ Competition, 2016 Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition, 2016 Arthur Poister Scholarship Competition, M. Louise Miller Scholarship from the Greater Bridgeport Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, the 2013 Rodgers North American Classical Organ Competition, and the Ruth and Paul Manz Organ Scholarship. He also won the New York City and Northeast regional AGO competitions. In addition, Colin received the Clarence Snyder Third Prize in the 2016 Longwood Gardens International Organ Competition and is a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists.

An interesting fact: I was an extremely reckless and accident-prone kid. I went to the emergency room so often that I had my favorite hospital and the staff there knew me, and my mom says that my raison d'être was self-destruction. One of my more memorable injuries was when I concussed myself by diving into a bathtub with no water.

Proudest achievement: Most recently, acquiring two free leather couches and smuggling them into the Juilliard organ rooms.

Career aspirations and goals: I’m mainly interested in doing church music, concertizing, and perhaps doing some teaching. I particularly enjoy the variety of musical activities that are involved in church music: repertoire, improvisation, conducting, service playing, etc.


Thomas Mellan

Born in Lyon, France, Thomas Mellan won first place in the Musical Merit Foundation’s national competition in 2016. In 2011, he recorded for the official documentary of the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ. He performed as a Rising Star in the American Guild of Organists’ West Region Convention and the Spreckels Centennial International Festival in 2015. As Young Artist of the Year, he played in the 23rd International Festival of St. Eustache in Paris, France. In 2018, his European tour included a residency at the Organ Hall in Lviv, where he gave the Ukrainian premiere of Messiaen’s Livre d’Orgue.

His compositions include orchestral, chamber, and solo works, which have been performed in France, America, Canada, and Ukraine. Mellan was the Outstanding Graduate of the undergraduate class of 2017 at the University of Southern California, Thornton School of Music, graduating with a double major in organ and composition.

An interesting fact: I pick hikes spontaneously and based on the elevation gain. If it’s below 700 meters (+- 3,000 feet), then it’s too pleasant!

Proudest achievement: Pushing organ technique to new possibilities, by playing and designing études (Chopin, Dupré, Liszt, my own), modern music (Xenakis and Barraqué, for instance, push keyboard technique and expression to new boundaries), and new works of my own, such as my Ballade de l’impossible.

Playing three concerts on three consecutive nights in Lviv, Ukraine, each with individual programs last summer.

Career aspirations and goals: Touring internationally as an organist with programs of music that I believe in (sometimes, but not always, organ repertoire: Ferneyhough, Bach, Louis Couperin, Schoenberg, Liszt, Xenakis, Reger, Webern, to name just a tiny bunch); teaching at a university or conservatoire; composing pieces that I feel need to be written (at the moment my backlog of commissions includes an organ concerto, violin inventions, and a percussion solo); touring as a harpsichordist (Couperin, Froberger!) and pianist (Boulez! Bartok!).

Alexander Meszler

Alexander Meszler is a Doctor of Musical Arts degree student in organ of Kimberly Marshall at Arizona State University. He currently lives in Versailles, France, on a Fulbright award where he investigates secularism and the organ and studies with Jean-Baptiste Robin. Meszler completed his master’s degree in organ performance and music theory at the University of Kansas where he studied organ with Michael Bauer and James Higdon and his bachelor’s degree in organ with Kola Owolabi while at Syracuse University.

Alexander has been a finalist in several performance competitions and, in 2016, he won second prize at the Westchester University Organ Competition. A strong advocate of music by living composers, he currently serves as a member of the American Guild of Organists’ Committee on New Music. He has collaborated with composers Huw Morgan, Hon Ki Cheung, and George Katehis on the premieres of their organ works.

In 2017, he was awarded a grant from the Arizona Center for Renaissance and Medieval Studies for a project titled, “Crossroads for the Organ in the Twenty-First Century: A Precedent for Secularism in the First Decades of Sixteenth-Century Print Culture.” He has presented papers and lecture-recitals at conferences including the Rocky Mountain chapter of the American Musicological Society, the Westfield Center for Historical Keyboard Studies, and the Historical Keyboard Society of North America. He is making his first significant interdisciplinary contribution this June at the European Association for the Study of Religions’ annual conference.

An interesting fact: I started my undergraduate career as a trombone major. Having taken some organ late in high school with Stephen Best in Utica, New York, I was warmly welcomed as a secondary student into the organ studio at Syracuse University. I found myself in the organ practice room for hours at a time—much, much more time than I spent practicing the trombone. The moment I knew I needed to approach Kola Owolabi, my organ teacher at the time, about the possibility of switching majors was when my trombone professor, Bill Harris, complimented my trombone playing in a rather distinctive way. He said, “You know, you play the trombone extremely well for an organ major.” Not an insult at all, he knew where my heart was. I am extremely thankful for both mentors!

Proudest achievement: I’m proud of a collaborative project that I initiated and organized with my mentor, Kimberly Marshall. Inspired by other artist-activists, we explored the negative environmental effects of a United States-Mexico border wall. We incorporated the art and music of many others including commissioning two new works funded by the Foundation for Contemporary Arts in New York City. One resulting work was for two organs and fixed-media electronics by Huw Morgan, which incorporated sounds of the wall itself from musician-activist Glenn Weyant. Another highlight for me was working with a leading scientist in the field, Michael Schoon, to write an accurate, yet moving script that accompanied the program. The result, if nothing else, was that new audiences were exposed both to the organ and the science behind this important and timely issue.

Career aspirations and goals: While there is no doubt that we live in uncertain times for the organ, I remain optimistic about the future. I want to find a place that will support my continuing research on secularism and the organ, but no matter where life takes me, I will share my love for the organ through teaching, research, and concertizing. I am and will always be on the lookout for ways to keep the organ exciting and relevant.


Collin Miller

Collin Miller is a native of Lafayette, Louisiana, and is a junior organ performance major at the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music where he is a student of Janette Fishell. He began playing piano at the age of five, receiving initial training from Rosa Lynne Miller and then studying with Susanna Garcia. In his freshman year of high school, Collin began taking organ lessons with Tom Neil and has since held church positions as pianist and organist at Northwood Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Lafayette. He was the winner of the 2017 American Guild of Organists Southwest Regional Competition for Young Organists and is a recipient of the Barbara and David Jacobs Scholarship.

An interesting fact: My primary interest outside of music is film, particularly the work of Béla Tarr, Federico Fellini, and the films of the French New Wave.

Proudest achievement: I am most proud of a few performances of lesser-known music I have given, including programming the Sonata on the 94th Psalm of Julius Reubke alongside the composer’s other more underplayed masterpiece, the Piano Sonata in B-flat Minor, as well as more recently performing the “Toccata” from the Second Organ Symphony of Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji, one of the most technically demanding sections of this massive work.

Career aspirations and goals: I aspire to become an organ professor at a university while continuing to advocate for and perform some of the neglected works of the repertoire, including eventually the three organ symphonies of Sorabji.

Ryan Mueller

Ryan Mueller holds a lifelong fascination of music, history, and all things mechanically inclined. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he credits the region’s landscape of instruments as inspiration for his love of pipe organs. Ryan began piano studies in third grade with Susan Eichstadt and began organ as a freshmen in high school with John Reim. Frequently called upon as a recitalist, lecturer, and writer, he recently founded Cream City Preservation, Inc., a non-profit organization dedicated to the advocacy of historic instruments, buildings, and artifacts. Ryan has served in various local American Guild of Organists and American Theatre Organ Society chapters and is also an active member of the Organ Historical Society, AGO’s Young Organist division, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, and National Trust for Historic Preservation. He was a recipient of an OHS E. Power Biggs Fellowship in 2014 and was a scholar at the 2017 American Institute of Organbuilders convention. Ryan currently resides in Ogden, Iowa, working for Dobson Pipe Organ Builders Ltd., of Lake City, Iowa. While he takes part in a wide variety of service work and shop activities, Ryan’s primary responsibilities at Dobson revolve around the tonal department. Outside of the organ scene, he thoroughly enjoys restoring classic cars, photography, cycling, and spending time with his fiancée Emily, to whom he will be married this June.

An interesting fact: One thing not too many people know about me is that I have a real fascination of fire trucks. (I was one of those little boys who wanted to be a firefighter when I grew up.) Growing up, we lived right across the street from a fire station, and so till this day I am usually able to identify, by the sound of the siren, whether it is a ladder truck, engine, ambulance, or police car, etc., coming down the street.

Proudest achievement: Being a part of our new instrument at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue is perhaps one of my bigger career accomplishments. Even though the project conceptualized many years before I began at Dobson, I was fortunate to be a part of the in-shop work, installation, and on-site voicing. Being but a small part of the team that brought Opus 93 to life and spending many months in Manhattan was a life changing experience. To me, there is no greater satisfaction than knowing that the fruits of your labor are going to stand, be used, and be heard by generations of people from around the world to the glory of God.

Career goals and aspirations: Though I am currently content with where I am at in my career, someday I would like to be the tonal director of a large firm and perhaps own my own company. Outside of career-oriented goals, I currently have two books in the works which I am hoping to complete in the next year or two.

Kevin Neel

Kevin Neel enjoys a versatile career as organist, collaborative pianist, conductor, singer, and arts administrator. He has been heard at the organ in numerous venues including Symphony Hall, Old South Church, Emmanuel Church, Old West Church, all in Boston, Massachusetts, as well as in the southeast. In December 2016 he co-founded The Brookline Consort, a choral ensemble for which he serves as co-artistic director, baritone, and primary accompanist, a group whose mission is to tell stories through diverse, thoughtful programming performed at the highest level. As a singer, he has sung with the Marsh Chapel Choir, Emmanuel Music, Cantata Singers, and VOICES 21C. He is organist and chapel choir director at Emmanuel Church, Boston, and serves as executive director for Coro Allegro and organist for Saint Clement Eucharistic Shrine. He holds degrees from Boston University in choral conducting and Indiana University in organ performance and is originally from the Charlotte, North Carolina, area.

An interesting fact: I trained in classical ballet.

Proudest achievement: Co-founding my own choral ensemble and serving as a singer, pianist, organist, and administrator for the ensemble.

Career aspirations and goals: I am excited to be able to work at the intersection of the choral and the organ worlds, both in and out of sacred music. I aspire to use my skills at the organ and as a choral musician to further the collaborative approach to music making. I’m drawn to collegiate music making, especially in university chapels, as it represents the intersection of the highest caliber music with inspired preaching and collegial youthfulness. I’m looking forward to an upcoming concert in October 2019 where I’m performing Duruflé’s Requiem (organ-only) and Kodaly’s Missa Brevis. And later that month, turning 30!


Jessica Park

Jessica Park is a native of Saint Paul, Minnesota, and is the chapel organist and assistant liturgical musician at the Chapel of Saint Thomas Aquinas of the University of Saint Thomas, Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she is the principal musician of the chapel and director of the Schola Cantorum. She received the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in organ performance from the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities, where she studied with Dean Billmeyer. Jessica received the Master of Music degree in Historical Performance and Bachelor of Music degree in Organ Performance at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, Ohio, where she studied organ with James David Christie, Jonathan Moyer, Olivier Latry, and Marie-Louise Langlais, and harpsichord and continuo with Webb Wiggins. She received first prize at the 2013 American Guild of Organists/Quimby Competition for Young Organists (Region VI) and performed as a “Rising Star” at the 2014 American Guild of Organists national convention in Boston, Massachusetts. She was the featured organist for the inaugural 2014 Twin Cities Early Music Festival and was also a performer at the 2017 Organ Historical Society Convention held in Minneapolis. Her performances have been broadcast on American Public Media’s Pipedreams.

An interesting fact: I run my own photography business as a specialist in portrait photography, and I like to paint on canvases and hang them around my place. I have not mastered the Bob Ross style yet, but I hope I can someday.

Proudest achievement: I am proud of my master’s degree harpsichord recital in 2014. I loved the music I was playing, and I remember being fully focused and enjoying the music. After the recital, I listened to the recording and was actually very pleased with my playing (which is rare)! It really was one of my happiest moments as a student, and I still love the harpsichord.

Career aspirations and goals: I would like to continue performing as a recitalist, playing in the church, and in the future, I would like to teach organ and harpsichord.

Jordan Prescott

Heralded by The Baltimore Sun as a “rising organ star,” Jordan Prescott has established himself as one of the leading organists, church musicians, and directors of his generation. A native of Greenville, North Carolina, Jordan holds the Bachelor of Music degree in organ and sacred music from East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina. While at East Carolina, Jordan spent two years as organ scholar of Duke University Chapel in Durham, North Carolina. He is now pursuing a Master of Music degree in organ performance at the Peabody Conservatory where he studies with John Walker. Jordan formerly studied with Andrew Scanlon and Christopher Jacobson. In 2018, Jordan won first prize in the 16th International Organ Competition at West Chester University. He was a 2015 E. Power Biggs Fellow with the Organ Historical Society and currently serves as the Mid-Atlantic Chair for the American Guild of Organists Young Organists. Jordan has research set for future publication in The American Organist, and his performances have been featured on WBJC radio. Jordan is in his seventh season as associate musical director of The Lost Colony, America’s longest-running outdoor drama. Under his direction, The Lost Colony Choir has risen to critical acclaim and was featured as part of the Sing Across America campaign honoring the centennial of the National Parks Service.

An interesting fact: I am a distance runner and currently training for the Baltimore Marathon.

Proudest achievement: I am proudest of the collegial relationships that I have with other organists and my colleagues in the broader music profession and grateful for the network of support and collaboration that we have created.

Career aspirations and goals: I hope to follow in the footsteps of my teachers in developing a career that includes church music, teaching, and performing—in that order. Church music allows me to actively practice my faith and glorify God in thanksgiving for the gifts he has given me as well as enhance the spiritual and liturgical lives of the parishioners I am called to serve. Through teaching I will pass on the knowledge, passion, and kindness given to me by the mentors in my own life. Lastly, performing affords me the opportunity to share the music that I connect with and to do my part in the preservation of the incredible repertoire to which we have all been entrusted.


Alexandria Smith

Alexandria Smith is a pipe organ technician currently employed at John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders. She has passionately trained as a musician since a young age, beginning with piano before starting oboe. Her journey as an instrument technician began while she was a freshman in college.

In spring 2017 through winter 2018, Alexandria studied organ with Joby Bell and was awarded the Wallace Organ Scholarship. Alexandria received the E. Power Biggs Fellowship of the Organ Historical Society in 2018, deepening her love of historic organs. She will graduate from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors in Music Industry degree: merchandising and manufacturing, with a minor in general business in May 2019. Alexandria spent two summers as an intern at Buzard before beginning full-time work in January 2019. She finds maintaining instruments and keeping the builders’ original style as alive as possible extremely rewarding. Her work lies mostly in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century organs.

An interesting fact: My primary instrument in college was oboe, English horn, and Baroque oboe.

Proudest achievement: Joining the service department at Buzard Organs. It is a well-rounded team, and everyone has so much knowledge to share and pass on, and I get to work on so many rewarding projects.

Career aspirations and goals: To manage a pipe organ company and to continue to grow my knowledge as much as possible on the instrument.

Emily Solomon

Emily Solomon is currently pursuing a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in sacred music from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her prior degrees include dual Master of Music degrees in early keyboard instruments and sacred music from the University of Michigan and a Master of Arts in music research from Western Michigan University with a thesis on Johann Walter’s Geistliches Gesangbüchlein. Emily is the executive director for the Academy of Early Music in Ann Arbor and cantor of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church of Detroit, Michigan. She is also a continuing visiting artist in harpsichord at Western Michigan University. In May 2018, Emily was invited to perform on the Nordic Historical Keyboard Festival in Kuopio, Finland. She toured Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic as the organist for the Concordia University Ann Arbor choir in May 2017. A proud Michigan native, Emily is a Certified Tourism Ambassador™ for Washtenaw County and serves on the board of the Soo Locks Visitors Association in the Upper Peninsula.

An interesting fact: I love Great Lakes freighters! I’m frequently involved with maritime activity in the Upper Peninsula and have been a long-time member of the American Society for Marine Artists.

Proudest achievement: When I began organ lessons at the age of 19, I had no idea that I would go on to earn advanced degrees in this field. I’m both proud of and humbled by what I have been able to accomplish in the last nine years.

Career aspirations and goals: I hope to continue my work in church music, performing arts management, and early music while also becoming an effective and influential pedagogue.


Mitchell Stecker

Mitchell Stecker is director of chapel music and carillonneur at The Citadel, Charleston, South Carolina. He is an alumnus of the University of Florida (Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Arts in linguistics, 2014), studying principally with Laura Ellis. In 2015, Mitchell spent six months at the Royal Carillon School (Mechelen, Belgium) before returning to UF to pursue the Master of Music (musicology), which he will receive in May of this year. Prior to his current role, Mitchell served as carillon fellow to Geert D’hollander at Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales, Florida, from 2017 to 2018.

Mitchell is also an active composer, with titles published by the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America and American Carillon Musical Editions, and with several commissions in progress. His scholarly interests include shape-note music, campanological topics, and the music of Peter Benoit and the Flemish Romantic. He is an active member of the GCNA, serving as the guild’s corresponding secretary since 2017; in 2016, he was awarded the guild’s Barnes Scholarship to study Roy Hamlin Johnson’s monumental Carillon Book for the Liturgical Year and its relation to Bach’s Orgelbüchlein. In his free time, Mitchell is an avid fasola singer, enjoys studying languages, and is passionate about good food and drink.

An interesting fact: In 2011, I took part in the “largest carillon recital in history.” Designed to commemorate the seventy-fifth congress of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, a novelty concert program was presented in which seventy-five individual performers all shared an hour-long recital program.

Proudest achievement: As a freshman at the University of Florida, I originally declared a major in engineering, with no intention of studying music. I had the occasion to re-evaluate my purpose and realized that my calling was elsewhere. The simple fact of being a church musician is a great source of pride for me. I find the work of leading God’s people in praise to be tremendously fulfilling and am proud that such a significant responsibility falls to me.

Career aspirations and goals: I hope to serve as a church musician in whatever capacity I am best suited for, for as long as I can. Additionally, I aspire to continue to grow as a scholar and eventually seek a doctoral degree in musicology. Avocationally, I am in the midst of compiling several new compilations of fasola music and hope to see these offerings find a place within the shape-note singing community.

Grant Wareham

A Dayton, Ohio, native, Grant Wareham began organ studies with Jerry Taylor in 2007. He earned his Bachelor of Music degree at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, Houston, Texas, where he studied with Ken Cowan, graduating cum laude and with distinction in research and creative work. While at Rice, Grant served as Moseley Memorial Organ Scholar and assistant organist at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church, Houston, and as associate organist at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, Houston, where he worked with music director Brady Knapp and artist-in-residence and organist Ken Cowan.

Winner of both the First and Audience prizes at the 2017 Albert Schweitzer Organ Competition in Hartford, Connecticut, Grant was also a featured performer at the 62nd annual convention of the Organ Historical Society in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This June, he will compete in the 2019 Longwood International Organ Competition at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania.

Grant is currently pursuing his Master of Music degree at the Yale University Institute of Sacred Music and School of Music, New Haven, Connecticut, where he studies organ with Thomas Murray. He also serves as organ scholar at Christ Church, New Haven, one of America’s renowned Anglo-Catholic parishes, where he works alongside choirmaster Nathaniel Adam and organist and artist-in-residence Thomas Murray.

An interesting fact: I am an avid distance runner and completed two half-marathons in 2018.

Proudest achievement: Winning the first and audience prizes at the 2017 Schweitzer Competition, then playing the Fauré Requiem three days later with the University of Saint Thomas Singers under the direction of Brady Knapp.

Career aspirations and goals: I firmly believe in a very strong future for the organ, and every organist who feels this way has a duty to train and nurture successive generations in
the art of organ playing. Therefore, I want to teach at the collegiate level to pass on the incredible legacies that all of my teachers have given to me. I greatly enjoy serving in churches as a source of professional and personal fulfillment and would love be employed at a church with a vibrant music tradition. I also love learning new instruments and hope to have an active performing career.