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FREDERICK SWANN currently holds the office of National President of the American Guild of Organists, is Organist Emeritus of the Crystal Cathedral and of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, and Organ Artist-in-residence at St. Margaret's Episcopal Church in Palm Desert, California.
In the summer of 2001, after completing a 60-year career as a church organist, Frederick Swann retired from church work in order to devote his full time to concertizing. The 2002-2003 was designated his "farewell season" as a touring recitalist. He continues to perform on a limited schedule and in the summer of 2004, Mr. Swann presented recitals at the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists and the National Convention of the Organ Historical Society, as well as major recitals at the Cathedral in Cologne, Germy, and Westminster Abbey in London. Throughout his long and illustrious career, Mr. Swann has held pinnacle posts as an organist. One commentator noted that he has probably presided over more ranks of pipes and stopknobs than any organist in history. This is probably true given the size and prominence of the instruments with which he has been most notably associated…Riverside Church in New York City, Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, and First Congregational Church of Los Angeles.
Frederick Swann is a native of Virginia. He began the study of piano at a very early age, and was appointed to his first church position at age 10. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary, each granted "with distinction". Mr. Swann spent two years between formal schooling and duty in the U. S. Army serving concurrently as Acting Organist/Director at The Brick Presbyterian Church, and Associate Organist at St. Bartholomew's Church in New York.
In 1957, Frederick Swann was appointed Organist of The Riverside Church in New York, and in late 1966 was appointed Director of Music as well. He remained with great distinction at that post through 1982. In addition, he was Director of Music and Organist of the Interchurch Center (1960-1967), was for ten years Chair of the Organ Department at the Manhattan School of Music, and served on the faculties of the School of Sacred Music at Union Theological Seminary as well as Teacher's College of Columbia University, New York.
In 1982, Frederick Swann was appointed Director of Music and Organist of the famed Crystal Cathedral, where he remained for 16 years.
During his tenure at the Cathedral he was widely regarded as the most visible organist in the world, as millions in every major city in more than 165 countries worldwide saw and heard him on the weekly televised services from the Cathedral. Upon his retirement in 1998 he was named Organist in residence at the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, where he presided over a five-manual organ of 346 ranks, perhaps the largest organ in any church in the world. In addition to playing services, Mr. Swann played two noonday recitals each week, guided the Organ Artists Concert Series, served as organist for the Los Angeles Bach Festival, and founded and directed Organ Alive, a highly regarded annual organ conference.
In 2002, Mr. Swann was elected the National President of the American Guild of Organists and in 2004 he was elected to a second two-year term in that office. His involvement with the American Guild of Organists spans more than 55 years, during which time he has held many local and national offices, as well as serving on the Editorial Supervisory Board of the official Guild magazine, The American Organist, for 14 years. He also received the 2002-2003 Performer of the Year award from the New York City chapter of the Guild. As a performer, he has been repeatedly engaged for regional and national conventions of the Guild. He was honored to be chosen as one of the major recitalists at the AGO Centennial Convention in New York City in 1996, and most recently he was a featured artist and served as program chair for the 2004 national convention of the Guild that was held in Los Angeles, CA.
In addition to performing in each of the fifty United States, throughout Canada, and in Asia, Frederick Swann has played recitals in many of the major churches, cathedrals and concert halls of Europe. He has also been a performer and jury memory at many international organ competitions and festivals, notably those at St. Albans, Chartres, Nuremberg, Paris and Calgary. He also performed at the International Congress of Organists in 1977 and 1987. He has performed with major orchestras and choral groups throughout America and abroad.
Widely known as an outstanding artist for dedications of new instruments, Mr. Swann was chosen to inaugurate the organ at Orchestra Hall in Chicago in a sold-out concert for music for organ with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra in 1981. He performed one of the inaugural concerts on the new organ in Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, and was soloist with the San Francisco Symphony for the opening of the new organ in Davies Symphony Hall. On each of these instruments he has returned to play solo recitals.
In addition to performance activities, Mr. Swann is sought after as a leader for 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 choral and organ compositions are published by Fred Bock Music Company, and Hinshaw Music, Inc. His many recordings, past and present, have assisted in making his name one of the best known throughout the music world.
Appearances in the 2004-2005 season include recitals in Iowa, Pennsylvania, Maryland, South Carolina, California, West Virginia, Toronto, and Bermuda. In April Mr. Swann will perform an anniversary recital on the organs in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington DC, marking 40 years since his dedicatory recital on those organs.