STEPHEN JON HAMILTON
biography
 
BIOGRAPHY
GALLERY
     

STEPHEN HAMILTON, whose name has long been synonymous with “concert touring organist,” has been prominent on the American organ scene for over forty years. The New York Times wrote of Hamilton’s performance of the Bach Passacaglia and Fugue in C Minor: “Hamilton, as organist at the Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) obviously knew the instrument’s sonorous capabilities and brought them powerfully to bear in a rousing account.” The Charleston Daily Mail reviewed: “This performance had to be one of the supreme moments of music making in this year’s or any other year’s Orgelfest offerings.” Throughout his distinguished career, such consistent critical review has earned Hamilton acclaim as a thoroughly engaging and popular personality and has firmly established his reputation as a leading and much sought-after virtuoso.

Highlights of Hamilton’s international touring include recent concerts at Notre Dame in Paris, Westminster Abbey and St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, as well as Merton College-Oxford, St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh, Glasgow Cathedral, St. Andrews University, and St. Peter’s in Regensburg. Appearances at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, and Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland, Oregon, figure prominently among hundreds of solo recitals presented throughout the United States. In New York City Hamilton has performed recitals in all major venues including St. Paul’s Chapel Columbia University, St. John the Divine, Riverside Church, Saint Thomas Church, Trinity Church Wall Street, St. Francis Xavier, and St. Ignatius Loyola. Extensive performing throughout the Twin Cities includes the Cathedral Church of Saint Mark, the St. Paul Cathedral, and Central Lutheran Church.

Hamilton gave the world premiere of American composer Kenton Coe’s Concerto for Organ, Strings and Percussion at the Festival du Comminges in the Cathedral of Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges in the Pyrenees region of France. The newspaper La Dépêche du Midi wrote: “The soloist, the American organist Stephen Hamilton, and the Parisian conductor, Jean-Pierre Marty, with the Orchestre national du Capitole de Toulouse, gave the work a magnificent performance." As a writer, Hamilton championed Coe’s music in his doctoral thesis subsequently published in The American Organist. Additionally, Coe's Fantasy for Organ was recorded at The Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City and is included in the Great Organs of New York CD collection issued by B&V Recordings. He has commissioned and continues to perform other organ works of Coe many of which are liturgically attractive.

In addition to United States performances of the Coe Concerto, Hamilton frequently appears with regional orchestras playing concertos ranging from Handel, Albinoni, and Rheinberger to Hindemith, Piston, Copland, and Poulenc. Highlights include the Enrico Bossi Organ Concerto with conductor David Zinman and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and the Barber Toccata Festiva with conductor Peter Bay and the Austin (Texas) Symphony Orchestra. Additionally he is a frequent collaborator with vocal and instrumental artists. The concert Requiems of Fauré, Duruflé, Mozart, and Vierne, and Handel’s Messiah have been among the featured works of collaborations with choral ensembles. He has been heard on national radio broadcasts including Pipedreams and Pipes, Pedals and Pistons.

A mainstay of Hamilton’s repertoire is his sought-after and movingly vivid interpretation of Marcel Dupré’s Le Chemin de la Croix, in over sixty concert performances. In 1992 a stunningly inspirational performance in New York City featured narration, dramatic lighting, and modern dance choreographed by Lynn Parkerson which led to several liturgical dance collaborations. His CD release of Le Chemin de la Croix garnered exceptional reviews from magazines and trade journals including The American Organist, The American Record Guide and The Diapason.

Stephen Hamilton is Minister of Music Emeritus at the historic Church of the Holy Trinity (Episcopal) in New York City. As organist, he also conducted the semi-professional Holy Trinity Choir and was Artistic Director of Music at Holy Trinity, the church’s subscription concert series for twenty years. The New York Times acknowledged Hamilton’s concert series as “an important venue for week-end presentations” and consistently reviewed the series’ concerts.

An avid educator, Hamilton was a member of the artist faculties of Hunter College, Manhattan School of Music, and Queens College. In demand as a clinician for master classes and workshops, he frequently lectures on topics related to church music as well as organ pedagogy, performance, and interpretation. His classes on various aspects of church service playing have been featured at the Church Music Conference of the University of the South and by the publishers MorningStar, Oxford, and Augsburg. His church music repertoire classes have been presented at seven National Conventions of the American Guild of Organists. The Pipe Organ Encounters program of the AGO has often engaged Hamilton as a clinician and teacher.

A native of Iowa, Hamilton began his private organ studies in the fourth grade with Russell Saunders at Drake University. His Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees were earned at Southern Illinois University. His study with John Walker earned him the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the Manhattan School of Music. He also pursued rigorous private studies with legendary organists Arthur Poister and Marie-Claire Alain.

Stephen Hamilton now makes his home in Minneapolis, where he is actively engaged in the rich cultural life of the Twin Cities, while continuing to concertize internationally.



 
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