Performers

Craig Humber

Based in Vienna, Austria, the Canadian organist Craig Frederick Humber was born in Corner Brook, Newfoundland and studied Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at Sir Wilfred Grenfell College of Memorial University of Newfoundland. He twice attained their top prize for excellence in Physics before transferring to Acadia University, from which he graduated in 1998. During his studies he was a student of Professor Clarence Ledbetter and Fernando Germani.

From October 1999 to January 2005, Craig trained under Professor Arvid Gast at the esteemed Hochschule für Musik und Theater “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in the Bach city, Leipzig, Germany, graduating in organ performance (also majoring in piano and harpsichord) and obtaining the Hochschule’s title “Diplomorganist.” In addition, he studied choral conducting and improvisation under Martin Schmeding, and vocal technique. In 2007, he completed his terminal degree in performance in Europe, the Aufbaustudium at the Musikhochschule in Lübeck, Germany, and post-graduate studies in organ under Professor Michael Radulescu at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna, and in harpsichord under Gordon Murray.

Mr Humber’s awards and distinctions include the Celanese Canada Internationalists Fellowship, the John Goss Memorial Scholarship from the Royal Canadian College of Organists, and five consecutive study grants from the Fulford Trust of the Anglican Foundation of Canada. He is a three-time recipient of the revered Canada Council for the Arts Grant. In 2002, he earned substantial assistance to investigate the Baroque organs of Gottfried Silbermann, Wagner, and Hildebrandt in Saxony. In 2004, he received another grant to study the Romantic organs of Wilhelm Sauer and Friedrich Ladegast, and won the J.B.C. Watkins special prize in music awarded by the Canada Council for the Arts. Craig Humber won the first Godfrey Hewitt Memorial Scholarship Competition, the largest scholarship awarded by the Royal Canadian College of Organists (Ottawa branch), and was laureate of the Thyll-Dürr Swiss scholarship performance competition at the University of Vienna two consecutive years.

Mr Humber has been featured on live broadcasts by the CBC and German radio including Deutschland Radio from Berlin, and has appeared twice in the Brandenburgische Sommerkonzerte series in Brandenburg, Germany. In 2003, he held an assistantship on the Hildebrandt organ (Bach organ from 1746) in Naumburg, Germany. He was three times coordinator for organ studies at the Leipzig-Julliard Summer Academy. Being the first North American prize-winner of the prestigious Gottfried Silbermann Organ Competition—held bi-annually in Freiberg, Germany—Craig Humber concertizes regularly on historic organs (Baroque and Romantic) in Germany, Austria, Holland and Canada.

From 2006 to 2010 Mr Humber lectured on Musical Form and Structural Analysis at the Franz Schubert Conservatory of Music in Vienna. In May 2010 his CD Johann Sebastian Bach: The Leipzig Chorales was released. This double-CD, recorded using SACD technique, shows the richness of sound of the Silbermann organ in St Petri Freiberg (Saxony/Germany). Since 2017 he has been director of music and organist at the Votivkirche Vienna, where he is responsible for one of the world’s best-preserved organs by E. F. Walcker.

Denis Bédard

Denis Bédard, who was born in Quebec City in 1950, first studied music at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec, graduating with first class honours in organ, harpsichord, chamber music, counterpoint and fugue.  He continued his studies in Paris and Montreal, as well as in Amsterdam with Gustav Leonhardt, and was laureate of the “Prix d’Europe” in 1975 and of the CBC Radio Talent Competition in 1978. A professor at the Conservatoire de musique de Québec from 1981 until 1989 and organ professor at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver from 2001 until 2004, Denis Bédard was organist at St-Coeur-de-Marie church in Quebec City for 19 years and then became organist at St-Roch church, also in Quebec City, in September 1997. Since September 2001 Denis Bédard has been organist and music director at Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver. As a concert artist he has given recitals across Canada, in the United States, in France and in Brazil.

Denis Bédard’s compositions include more than twenty chamber music works as well as orchestral and vocal music and many organ works. He has received commissions from Radio-Canada, the CBC, the RCCO, the Québec Symphony Orchestra and various professional musicians in Canada, England, France, Switzerland and the U.S. Many of his works have been performed internationally (U.S.A., France, Monaco, England, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Poland, Estonia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Greece, South Africa, Namibia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Singapore, Vietnam, Brazil, Ecuador, Israel, Russia), particularly at international organ and saxophone conventions, and several have been recorded on CD. His music, essentially tonal and melodic, is characterized by a concern for formal clarity and immediate communication with as vast a public as possible.

Donald Hunt

Donald was born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He studied music at McGill University in Montreal, where he received Bachelor and Master degrees in organ performance and composition, studying principally with John Grew. During his time in Montreal, he was assistant organist at Christ Church Cathedral, Montreal. He has also held organist posts in the UK, including at Truro Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral, and St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh.

Donald is a first prize laureate of the Concours d’orgue de Québec and has been a finalist in the Concours Prix d’Europe and the RCCO National Organ Playing Competition. He recently took up the post of Director of Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Victoria, where he plans the liturgical music for three Sunday services, and directs a number of choirs, including a newly-formed treble treble choir in partnership with the Cathedral School. He has broadcast live on BBC radios 3 and 4, including playing for the Scottish celebration of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.

Donald is an Associate of the Royal Canadian College of Organists and a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists.

Fred Graham

A native of Southern Ontario, Graham is Associate Professor Emeritus of Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto, where he designed and instituted Canada’s only Master of Sacred Music program. Previously, he was national Officer for Worship and Music for the United Church, where had roles in publishing the hymnal Voices United (1996) and the book of prayers, Celebrate God’s Presence (2000). He conducted liturgy and music workshops for the denomination monthly for 14 years from Atlantic to Pacific.

As a student in the Bachelor of Music program at University of Toronto, Fred completed the Associateship of the Royal Conservatory, Toronto under Dr. Charles Peaker. On scholarship in Germany, he studied organ with Karl Hochreither and Michael Schneider, 1967–70. A decade later, he was mentored by Russell Saunders, Eastman School of Music, during the Master’s program in Organ Performance. From 1985–91 he was enrolled in the PhD (Liturgical Studies) at Drew University, Madison, NJ. His doctoral thesis on Methodist hymns of the 19th century was published in 2005. More recently, he edited the authorized version of the Revised Common Lectionary, 2012 after he had served two terms as convener of the ecumenical Consultation on Common Texts. Active since 1961 as a pastoral musician, his career took place in Anglican and United churches in Ottawa, Halifax, and the Greater Toronto Area.

Honours include the Davidson Trust prize for excellence in theological teaching, and the Fellowship of the Hymn Society in the United States and Canada (FHS) for distinguished leadership in congregational song. His hymn tunes and arrangements appear in Voices United, More Voices, Common Praise, and Glory to God (PCUSA). A member of the National Council of the RCCO, he acts as Convener of the Professional Support Committee. He is a Licensed Lay Worship Leader in the United Church, and preaches regularly as needed. An inveterate traveller, he currently resides in Guelph, Ontario.

Organized Crime

Organized Crime is the organ duo that grew from the friendship between Rachel Mahon and Sarah Svendsen, who met at the University of Toronto. Their programmes include a combination of classic organ repertoire and popular music transcribed and arranged for the instrument.

The goal of this duo is to entertain audiences with their music and antics (which involve costume changes, dazzling shoes and hot tempers) and to promote the organ to a wider audience of all ages. With this purpose in mind, Organized Crime Duo’s shows are unlike any other organ concerts.

The performance must be seen as well as heard and appeals to everyone, from the organ aficionado to one completely unfamiliar with the pipes. The duo has appeared at Metropolitan United Church, Toronto; Casa Loma, Toronto; St Matthew’s United Church, Halifax and Truro Methodist Church, UK.

Rachel Laurin

Organist, composer and improviser, Rachel Laurin was born in 1961, in St-Benoît, Quebec, Canada. After her studies at the Montreal Conservatory, she became Associate Organist at St-Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal (1986-2002), and from 2002 to 2006, she was Titular Organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa. She now devotes herself to composition, recitals, master classes and lectures.

She has performed organ recitals in major cities throughout Canada, the United States and Europe, and has recorded more than twelve albums as soloist and with ensembles on Motette, Musicus, Musicus/Fidelio, Analekta, SRC (Radio-Canada), Riche Lieu, DJA, BND, and Raven labels.

In 2002, at the inauguration of the Edmonton Winspear Centre’s new Létourneau organ, she performed the Premiere of Jacques Hétu’s Organ Concerto with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra conducted by Mario Bernardi. She presented this same work at  the Ottawa National Arts Center in 2008, and in Toronto, at  the Metropolitan United Church, during the Centennial Convention of the RCCO in June, 2009. She also performed Raymond Daveluy’s Organ Concerto at the  RCCO National Convention in Hamilton in 1999.

Rachel Laurin has been an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre since 1989. She has composed more than a hundred works for solo instruments, voice, instrumental ensembles and orchestra. These works have been performed and recorded in major cities throughout the world. Four complete CDs are devoted to some of her organ compositions and chamber music, on labels ATMA, Acis and Raven. Her compositions are published by Doberman, RCCO Music Publications (Canada), Europart (France), Hinshaw Music (Fred Bock) and Wayne Leupold Editions (USA) where she has been “House Composer” since 2006. She has won many awards, including the “Prix Conrad-Letendre”, the Holtkamp-AGO Composition Award in 2008, and first prize in the Marilyn Mason New Organ Music Competition in 2009.

She is frequently invited to major organ festivals as organist and composer and was a recitalist at the AGO National Convention in 2008 (St.Paul/Minneapolis, MN), and a commissioned composer for the AGO National Convention  in 2010, in Washington, D.C. She also presented the opening gala recital of the RCCO Centenary National Convention in Toronto in 2009. Rachel Laurin is also well known as an improviser, and has had many opportunities to teach this art in many schools and academies in France, Canada and United States. As a “Distinguished Guest Artist,” she has performed recitals, conducted workshops, lectured and taught at many Canadian and American universities, including Yale University (New Haven, Connecticut), Baylor University (Waco, Texas), Syracuse University (New York, NY), Kansas City University (Missouri), St. Thomas University (Minneapolis, Minnesota), University of St. Lawrence (Canton, NY), Mount Royal College (Calgary, AB), and University of Alberta (Edmonton, AB).

A feature-length program devoted to her work as a composer and organist, titled “Rachel’s Children”, was broadcast by American Public Media’s PIPEDREAMS presented by Michael Barone, in October 2012. Rachel Laurin has been a member of the “Comité d’Honneur de la Fédération Francophone des Amis de l’Orgue” (FFAO) since 2016.

For more information visit www.rachellaurin.com

Stephen Candow

Stephen Candow holds a MMus from the University of Toronto (2001), and the conjoint BMus/BMusEd (1998) from Memorial University. Further abroad, he has studied choral conducting and organ in Dublin, Ireland; at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, England; and at the International Summer Academy in Göteborg, Sweden.

In Ottawa, Stephen was the Director of Music and conductor for the prestigious Choir of Gentlemen & Boys at St. Matthew’s Church, and the Choral Instructor at Ashbury College. Other previous posts include Guinness Organ Scholar at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland; and Assistant Director of Music in Canada’s “Methodist Cathedral,” Metropolitan United, Toronto.

A well-known choral accompanist, Stephen has been the accompanist for the Anglican Chorale of Ottawa, the Toronto Mendelssohn Youth Choir, the Newfoundland Symphony Youth Choir (Shallaway), Toronto’s Voices, and Ottawa’s Seventeen Voyces. Stephen enjoys working with singers both as a vocal coach and accompanist and has worked with various choirs in Ireland, England and Canada.

In 2011, Stephen returned to Newfoundland, where he now serves as the Artistic Director of the St. John’s Choir, the Philharmonic Choir of the Newfoundland Symphony Orchestra, the Director of Music & Organist at St. Michael and All Angels Church, and as a member of the Artistic Faculty for Atlantic BoyChoir.

Stillman Matheson

A native of St Stephen, New Brunswick, Stillman Matheson has had an interesting and varied career as an organist, conductor, church musician, and teacher. He was educated at Mount Allison and McGill Universities, as well as at the University of Alberta, which granted him a Doctor of Music degree in 1997. He also completed a Certification Year in Music Education at Dalhousie University following his undergraduate study. 

Dr. Matheson has been the recipient of many awards including a New Brunswick Arts Award and a University of Alberta PhD Dissertation Fellowship, and grants from the Alberta Foundation for the Arts, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

A strong advocate of new music for the organ, Mr. Matheson has commissioned and premiered several new works for the instrument, and his collaboration with the Edmonton Composers’ Concert Society led to the release of a solo organ compact disc, Acclamations: Canadian Organ Music. William Zagorski wrote in Fanfare Magazine that this recording “makes my head swim in the most delightful of ways,” and that he found Dr. Matheson to be a “technically impeccable and enthusiastic player.”

At the present Dr. Matheson is the Director of Music at Port Nelson United Church in Burlington, Ontario and the conductor of the Haldimand Choralairs.