“Most all of my compositions date from the period when I was Director of Music/Organist at The Crystal Cathedral (1982-1998). Some of the hymn variations are more recent. I have never considered myself a real “composer”. I’ve had no training as such but have tried composing something when the need arose, or for a special request. I improvise a great deal, and this has been helpful. My many anthems were composed to fill a special need at The Crystal Cathedral and were created to use the large choral forces I had available. The organ pieces were the result of transcribing hymn improvisations from my recordings – as a result of many requests.”
Frederick Swann is past President (2002-2008) of the American Guild of Organists, an organization of over 20,000 members in Chapters throughout the United States and several foreign countries. He is Organist Emeritus of the Crystal Cathedral and of the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, and Organ Artist-in-residence at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California. Swann is also University Organist and Artist Teacher of Organ at the University of Redlands.
One reviewer noted that Swann has probably presided over more ranks of pipes and stopknobs than any other organist in history. This is perhaps true given the size and prominence of the instruments with which his career has been notably associated: Riverside Church in New York City (1957-1982); the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove (1982-1998); and First Congregational Church of Los Angeles (1998-2001).
Swann holds degrees from Northwestern University and the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York, each granted “with distinction.” In addition to his prominent church positions, he was for ten years Chair of the Organ Department at the Manhattan School of Music and served on the faculties of Teacher’s College of Columbia University, and the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.
Although officially “retired,” Swann continues to perform on a reduced schedule of solo recitals and in concert with orchestras and choral groups. In the past few years, he has presented recitals in major churches and concert halls in the United States, England, Germany, Australia, Korea, and Russia. In 2004 he was selected by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to perform the inaugural solo organ recital on the spectacular new organ in Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. Prior to that, he played the inaugural recitals on the organs in Orchestra Hall, Chicago, and Davies Hall in San Francisco.
In June of 2008 Swann performed two preview recitals on the William J. Gillepsie Concert Organ in the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall at the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and has recorded the first CD on this major new Fisk instrument (released March 2009 by Gothic Records.) His most recent recording, on the Casavant organ in Memorial Chapel at the University of Redlands, was released by Gothic Records in January 2010.
Swann is sought after as a leader of organ and church music workshops and has been retained frequently as a consultant for new pipe organs, including some of the largest and most prominent in the country. His many recordings, past and present, have assisted in making his name one of the best known throughout the music world.
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