Ken Cowan

Performing Thursday, June 23 at 1:30 and 3:40 PM, Edythe Bates Old Recital Hall, Rice University

Regarded as one of North America’s finest concert organists and praised for his dazzling artistry, impeccable technique, and imaginative programming by audiences and critics alike, Ken Cowan maintains a rigorous performing schedule that takes him to major concert venues in America, Canada, Europe, and Asia. Recent feature performances have included appearances at Verizon Hall in Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco, Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa California, Spivey Hall, Maison Symphonique in Montreal, and Walt Disney Concert Hall, as well as concerts in Germany and Korea. In addition, Mr. Cowan has been a featured artist in recent years at national conventions of the American Guild of Organists in Los Angeles and Minneapolis. He has performed at many regional conventions of the AGO and has been featured at several conventions of the Organ Historical Society and the Royal Canadian College of Organists.

Numerous critically acclaimed compact disc recordings by Mr. Cowan are available. His most recent releases are Ken Cowan plays The Great Organ (Pro Organo), recorded on the newly-restored organ at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City; Works of Franz Liszt (JAV), recorded on the Michael Quimby organ at First Baptist church in Jackson Mississippi; and Ken Cowan Plays Romantic Masterworks (Raven), recorded on the 110-rank Schoenstein organ at First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. Many of Mr. Cowan’s recordings and live performances have been regularly featured on the nationally distributed radio show PIPEDREAMS from American Public Media.

A native of Thorold, Ontario, Canada, Mr. Cowan received the Master’s degree and Artist Diploma from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, studying organ with Thomas Murray. Prior to attending Yale, he graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where he studied with John Weaver. In 2012, Mr. Cowan joined the keyboard faculty of the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University as Associate Professor and head of the organ program. He is additionally Organist and Artist-in-Residence at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, TX. Previous positions have included Associate Professor of Organ at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, NJ, where he was awarded the 2008 Rider University Distinguished Teaching Award, and Associate Organist and Artist in Residence at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in New York City.

About the Composer of the AGO 2016 Commission

Emma Lou Diemer is a composition graduate of Yale and Eastman (Ph.D.) and also studied at Tanglewood and in Brussels on a Fulbright Scholarship. She was Composer-in-Residence in the Arlington, VA schools under a Ford Foundation Young Composers Grant in 1959-61 and Professor of Theory and Composition at the University of Maryland before holding the same position at the University of California where she was on the faculty from 1971 to 1991.

Her compositions have been published since 1956 and include works for many mediums from orchestra and band to chamber, solo, and choral works. Her awards include an NEA fellowship in electronic music, an annual ASCAP award (since 1962) for performances and publications, a Kennedy Center Friedheim Award for her Concerto in One Movement for Piano, the AGO 1995 Composer of the Year award, and the Mu Phi Epsilon 1995 Award of Merit. She was Composer-in-Residence with the Santa Barbara Symphony 1990-92 and the symphony performed five of her works, most recently the Santa Barbara Overture. Her organ works (1957-2014) are published by Augsburg Fortress, The Sacred Music Press, Zimbel Press, and others.


*Homage to Bach and Widor                                                                                   Emma Lou Diemer (b. 1927)

Pastorale                                                                                                                 Roger-Ducasse (1873-1954)

Toccata                                                                                                                              Jean Guillou (b. 1930)

Danse macabre                                                                                               Camille Saint-Saëns (1835-1921)
                                                                                                                                                           arr. Cowan

Étude hèroïque                                                                                                               Rachel Laurin (b. 1961)

*Houston AGO 2016 commission