Biographical Information

 

The music of Frank Ferko has been heard in live performances and radio broadcasts around the world. Hailed by critics as a master of text setting and composing for a cappella vocal ensembles, Mr. Ferko is one of the most sought after composers of new choral music today, and his works have been performed by some of the most highly regarded choral ensembles and vocal soloists of our time.

From 2001 to 2003 Mr. Ferko held the position of Composer-in-Residence with the Dale Warland Singers, long regarded as one of America's finest a cappella choirs, and his works have been performed by other distinguished ensembles such as Nederlands Kamerkoor, VU-Kamerkoor, Oost-Nederlands Kamerkoor (The Netherlands), Jubilate Singers (New Zealand), Commotio, BBC Singers, Trinity College Choir, Holst Singers, Londinium, (United Kingdom), Harvard Glee Club, Volti (San Francisco), Cantori New York, Cerddorion, Conspirare, Seattle Pro Musica, Choral Arts, Opus 7, The Esoterics, Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, BYU Singers, Magnum Chorum, Ars Nova Singers, Lutheran Choir of Chicago, South Bend Chamber Singers, Bella Voce (formerly known as His Majestie's Clerkes), American Repertory Singers, and the Elmhurst Symphony Orchestra. Distinguished solo artists who have performed his works include sopranos Sylvia McNair, Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet, Nancy Gustafson, Claudia Patacca and Patrice Michaels; tenors Brian Manternach, Michael Hume and Kurt Hansen; baritones Nathan Gunn, Robert Orth, Keith Phares and Jeffrey Ray; duet keyboardists Timothy and Nancy LeRoi Nickel, Marilyn and James Biery, and Colin Andrews and Janette Fishell, as well as organists David Schrader, Patrick Wedd, Robert Huw Morgan, David Craighead, Larry Palmer, Dana Robinson, Jonathan Dimmock, McNeil Robinson, Leonard Raver, Russian harpsichordist Tatiana Zenaishvili, and saxophonists Frederick Hemke, Jasmin Lelande, Harry White, and Gail Levinsky.

Notable venues in which Mr. Ferko's music has been presented include Carnegie Hall, Orchestra Hall (Minneapolis), Beurs van Berlage (Amsterdam), Rachmaninov Hall (Moscow), Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris, Domkerk, Utrecht (Netherlands), Basilique Sainte-Marie-Madeleine (Vézelay, France), St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin and The Merce Cunningham Dance Studio (New York). Festivals which have presented his music include the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music (2002), Jusqu'aux oreilles (Montreal, 2001-2003, 2005-2006), Festival Oude Muziek (Utrecht, 1998). His works have also been heard at conventions of the American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association and Chorus America.

Frank Ferko's awards include an ASCAP award every year since 1989, as well as awards from Meet the Composer, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, Arts International and the American Guild of Organists. Four times he received the Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council, and in 2003, 2005 and 2006 the Illinois Arts Council awarded him the Governor's International Travel Exchange Grant for presentations of his music in The Netherlands and Ireland. His works are published exclusively by E. C. Schirmer, and many of his works have been recorded for compact disc on the Hyperion, Arsis, Cedille, Loft/Gothic, Herald, Gasparo, Raven, Pro Organo, ZigZag, Notegun, New Art and Liturgical Press labels. His Stabat Mater for unaccompanied mixed chorus and soprano solo, which received high audience and critical acclaim in the U.S. and abroad, has been recorded twice on compact disc, most recently for Gothic ReZound with soprano Juliana Rambaldi and Choral Arts (Seattle), conducted by Robert Bode, and also for Cedille Records with soprano Nancy Gustafson and His Majestie's Clerkes (former name of Bella Voce), conducted by Anne Heider.

Mr. Ferko has also served as adjudicator in national competitions including the ASCAP Awards in Adventurous Programming, the AGO/ECS Choral Composition Competition and Choral Ventures of the Dale Warland Singers.

Since 1991 he has presented his own works in lecture/demonstrations at universities, conservatories and high schools across the country and abroad.

As a scholar of the music of Olivier Messiaen, Mr. Ferko has lectured on Messiaen's organ music and has performed many of Messiaen's works in concert. He has also written articles for The American Organist on avant-garde music in the church and on the organ music of the Swiss composer Marc Briquet.

Mr. Ferko's compositions based on his research on the life, music and writings of Hildegard von Bingen have gained international attention, and during the summer of 1998 Mr. Ferko was invited to perform his Hildegard Organ Cycle at the Holland Festival Oude Muziek in Utrecht (Netherlands), a performance which marked the European premiere of the work. This was followed by the West Coast U.S. premiere of the work at the Cathedral of St. Mary in San Francisco. Other performances of this work have been presented in major cities across the U.S. since 1991. Similarly, Ferko's Hildegard Motets have been performed by professional and college choirs across America, and his articles about the music of Hildegard and her influence on present-day composers have appeared in the British music journal Choir & Organ.

In the past few years Mr. Ferko's profile articles about significant American music ensembles and solo artists of our time have appeared in The Diapason and Choir & Organ.

 

Frank Ferko visits Ethan Mordden in his New York apartment. As Mr. Ferko is making a point, Mr. Mordden photographs him.
 

 

Frank Ferko (b. 1950, Barberton, Ohio) began piano study at the age of nine in Barberton, Ohio with Grace Baughman and in high school he studied with Richard Shirey, a member of the music faculty at the University of Akron. He began work as a church organist at the age of 14, and two years later he began to conduct a small church choir. At 18 he entered Valparaiso University and received a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and organ performance from Valparaiso in 1972. He received the Master of Music degree in music theory (with a minor in organ performance) from Syracuse University one year later. He holds a doctorate in music composition from Northwestern University. His teachers have included Richard Wienhorst (composition), Philip Gehring and Will O. Headlee (organ), Newman Powell (piano and music history) and Howard Boatwright (theory). For nearly three decades he held the post of director of music at various churches in the Midwest, primarily in the Chicago area. Mr. Ferko holds memberships in Pi Kappa Lambda, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), Chorus America, Society of American Archivists, and Music Library Association
 
En route to Lake George Mr. Ferko stops to enjoy the fall colors.

 


 

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