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Linda Cajigas
Jacobs School of Music

Alain Barker
Jacobs School of Music

Last modified: Thursday, July 30, 2009

IU Jacobs School of Music appoints organist Jeffrey Smith to faculty

Organ department 'serious about the sacred'

July 30, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Coinciding with the installation of a new pipe organ in Indiana University's Auer Hall, the Jacobs School of Music today (July 30) announced the appointment of acclaimed organist Jeffrey Smith, who will join the Jacobs faculty roster as a visiting associate professor in the fall of 2009.

"We are absolutely delighted to welcome Jeffrey Smith to the organ faculty," said Janette Fishell, chair of the Jacobs School organ department. "Dr. Smith will join Professor Christopher Young and me in the exciting process of envisioning and embracing the Jacobs School of Music's defining role in 21st-century organ and sacred music education. Building upon decades of excellence in the pedagogy and art of organ performance and a longstanding commitment to training church musicians, we enter a new era in which our faculty and facilities support the training of organists who not only develop their full potential as performers and teachers, but study with equal vigor the art of improvisation, choral conducting and voice building for choirs throughout their time in our program."

The Jacobs School will be sharing Jeffrey Smith with Christ Church Cathedral, an Episcopal church in downtown Indianapolis, where he will be the interim organist and choirmaster. The Very Rev. Stephen Carlsen, dean of the cathedral, expressed his enthusiasm: "We are most fortunate to have hired an interim choirmaster and organist as highly qualified as Jeffrey. He comes to us highly recommended by his peers among Anglican musicians. He has worked with men and boys' choirs, and girls' choirs throughout his career. I know he has the gifts and talents to continue our programs and help us dream about the future of our choirs."

Fishell hopes that the two institutions will be able to enjoy a period of creative collaboration that will benefit from joint artistic and pedagogical endeavors.

Smith will start his duties at the cathedral in the beginning of August. This will be a position familiar to Smith, as he will be coming to Indiana after a successful assignment at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, where he served as canon director of music. While at Grace Cathedral, Smith taught at the Cathedral School for Boys, coordinated and directed musical affairs for diocesan events, directed cathedral voluntary choirs and planned and conducted all concerts, tours and recordings of the cathedral choirs.

Smith also has experience with choir tours, with a CD recording and choir tour in 2007 that included liturgical performances at Westminster Abbey, Chartres Cathedral and Notre Dame de Paris. Christ Church Cathedral, having similar traditions in its music program, is pleased to have the choirs in the capable hands of Smith.

Smith will assume his Jacobs School duties just a few months after completion of the Maidee H. and Jackson A. Seward Organ, C. B. Fisk, Opus 135. According to Fishell, the organ's flexible design and advantageous positioning will allow for intense and creative training in the areas of choral conducting and accompanying on an instrument of international stature.

"I'm honored to be invited to work alongside Professors Janette Fishell and Christopher Young in one of this country's most respected organ departments," said Smith. "During my recent visit, I was impressed not only with the caliber of student musicianship but also with the professionalism and friendliness of the department. In addition to private teaching, I look forward to assisting students in associated skills, such as improvisation, accompanying and choral conducting. It will be a particularly exciting experience to be among the organists present as the new Fisk organ comes to life."

Smith is active as a choral conductor, workshop leader, teacher and recitalist. He holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Yale University as well as degrees from Northwestern University and the Royal College of Music, London.

Smith's teachers include Thomas Murray, Gerre Hancock, Wolfgang Rübsam and David Willcocks. He studied improvisation with Philippe Lefebvre, organist of Notre Dame de Paris, and has undertaken an extensive tour of the German boy choir tradition.

As a commentator on church music, Smith has been heard on both NPR and BBC Radio. His choral and organ disks on the Pro Organo label have been critically praised.

From 1992 to 2004, Smith served as music director of St. Paul's Parish, K Street, Washington, D.C., where he trained three choirs, including separate choirs for boy and girl trebles. Under his direction, the choirs appeared regularly at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, including performances with the National Symphony Orchestra.

Before his time in Washington, D.C., Smith was the organist-choirmaster of Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Ky.

Smith is active in the work of the Royal School of Church Music and the Association of Anglican Musicians.

Smith won highest honors in receiving the Fellowship of the American Guild of Organists. He was awarded the Fellowship of the Royal School of Church Music in a ceremony at York Minster in June 2004.

"In short, Jeffrey Smith's appointment makes it clear that the organ department at the Jacobs School of Music is 'serious about the sacred,'" concluded Fishell. "Our message to prospective students and their teachers is that a Jacobs organ major graduates with the knowledge, skills and vocational training needed to succeed in today's complex world of organ performance and sacred music."

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