Biography

 

Blessed with a calling towards musical ministry from an early age, I have devoted my career to praising God and uplifting the people around me through high quality sacred music. At the age of twenty-nine I possess fifteen years of professional and academic experience in this field. Presently I am working towards the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, under Professor Renee Anne Louprette. During my time in this program I have participated in master classes with the world renowned organists Michel Bouvard, Kimberly Marshall, Alan Morrison and Gordon Turk, and I have performed with the Rutgers Baroque Players, Rutgers Medieval Ensemble and Rutgers Wind Ensemble. I have also performed two doctoral organ recitals at Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan, in April 2016 and May 2015. I am the recipient of the school’s Drinkwater and Shaw Scholarships for outstanding organists, and I am a recent winner of the prestigious 2016 E. Power Biggs Fellowship, granted annually by the Organ Historical Society of America.

Prior to embarking upon my doctoral studies, I earned a Master of Arts degree with Honors from the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College, and a Bachelor of Arts degree with Honors from Vassar College. At Queens College I was one of two students selected to appear in performance alongside Congressman Joseph Crowley, Anjelica Huston and Carole King in the Queens College ceremony honoring Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, and I was a winner of the school’s Maynard Walker Organ Award. I performed with the Queens College Baroque Ensemble, the Queens College Baroque Opera Workshop and the Queens College Vocal Ensemble. I also created, produced and performed in a series of recitals at featuring organists from around the world celebrating the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, working in conjunction the American Guild of Organists. While at Vassar College I trained with Grammy-nominated organ professor Gail Archer and spent a semester studying at New York University in Prague, Czech Republic, where I had the invaluable opportunity to hear and play centuries-old instruments in their original environment and setting.

As an active organ recitalist, my 2015-2016 season highlights have included the Bach Meditation Series at Grace Episcopal Church in Manhattan, a performance in the Norma and Murray Horowitz Recital Series at Queens College, and a trio of self-produced recitals exploring the evolution of French organ music over three centuries. In addition to performing concerts I have performed for worship services in all five boroughs of New York City and the city’s environs, for every mainline Christian denomination and for Jewish worship, participating in upwards of one hundred worship services per year. I believe that the primary role of the organ is to supplement the spiritual nourishment of Christian worship, and to that end I have attained the skills necessary to adapt to liturgical traditions of all kinds, recognizing that important differences are present even between churches of the same denomination.

I possess extensive experience in the administration and execution of comprehensive church music programs, including directing, conducting and accompanying choirs at all levels. From January 2010 to October 2013 I served as the Organist and Minister of Music at the Evanglical Lutheran Church of Christ in Rosedale (Queens), where I expanded the Chancel Choir and instituted a Youth Choir, training both ensembles to higher levels of musical literacy and sensitivity. From October 2013 to July 2015 I served as the Interim Organist and Music Director at the First Baptist Church of White Plains, NY, where I instituted a guest musician program and augmented the church’s volunteer choir with eight professional choristers, granting me knowledge in the issues of budgeting and personnel management. Both of these positions saw me acknowledging and respecting the church’s multicultural traditions while working closely with clergy to ensure that the musical selections hewed closely to the liturgy and teachings for every service. As a faith leader I constantly strive for my work to fit organically within the context set out by the ministers and church members with whom I serve, and I always place a high level of emphasis on musical education within my church roles. My academic training has included graduate coursework in conducting from the organ and vocal pedagogy, and I maintain an active schedule as a private teacher to students of all ages. My career highlights as a choral accompanist have included performances with the Newark Boys’ Chorus, the Mozart Requiem and Schubert Mass in G at the SummerSings series at the First Congregational Church of Norwich, CT, and a musical adaptation of T.S. Eliot’s Murder in the Cathedral at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Brooklyn, which earned favorable reviews in the New York Times and Time Out New York.

My musical journey has always relied on support from the network of professionals around me, particularly the American Guild of Organists, in which I am an active member. As the Sub-Dean of the Brooklyn Chapter, I help organize and advertise events, I serve on the Budget, Calendar and Scholarship committees, and I am the editor of the Brooklyn Bombarde, our quarterly newsletter. An article I wrote for the Bombarde, “On The Importance Of Good Editions,” was published in the April 2015 issue of The American Organist magazine. I am a winner of scholarship competitions from the York, Queens and Nassau Chapters of the AGO, and in March 2016 I administered a similar scholarship competition for the Brooklyn Chapter. I believe that my fellow church musicians are not competitors but brothers and sisters, and I believe that anything that helps one of us helps all of us.

My mission as a church musician is to bring all the musical strains in American Christianity into harmonic accord, be they classical, folk, gospel or jazz. I know that fine sacred music has the power to impel hearts towards God regardless of genre. Along with my diversity of repertoire comes my conviction that the same standards of musical excellence apply universally across styles, and must never be compromised. I am eager to explore every opportunity for growth and development that may be available to me, and to serve the public with great music in the process. Please feel free to contact me with any inquiries at (717) 253-2886 or at johnwolfe@johnwolfemusic. Thank you very much for your time and consideration, and may God always bless you.

Yours in Christ,

John A. Wolfe

View/Download .PDF Biography