Ray Cornils is the Municipal Organist for the City of Portland, a post which he has held since 1990. Mr. Cornils also serves First Parish Church, UCC in Brunswick, Maine as Music Director where he leads an extensive music program of five vocal and two handbell choirs. In addition, he is a member of the music faculties of Bowdoin College, the University of Southern Maine, and the Portland Conservatory of Music, where he teaches organ, harpsichord and related classes. Born in Sterling, Illinois, Mr. Cornils received the B. Mus. degree from Oberlin College Conservatory of Music and the M. Mus. degree from the New England Conservatory of Music. He has studied organ with Robert Reeves, Fenner Douglas, William Porter, Yuko Hayashi and Gillian Weir, and harpsichord with William Porter, Lenora McCroskey, Rhona Freeman and Lisa Goode Crawford. Ray has concertized throughout the United States and in Germany, Russia, New Zealand and France. Recent concerts have included the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City and the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. He has been a featured recitalist for conventions of the American Guild of Organists and the Organ Historical Society.
Monday, August 18, 7:30 pm: Organist Jacques Boucher and Saxophonist Sophie Poulin de Courval
Wednesday, August 13, 12:15 pm – 12:45 pm: Organist Chris Ganza, Soprano Karen Pierce
Christopher Ganza began studying the organ at the age of nine. An interest in the instrument gained from observing the work of the organist at the church in which he grew up in Waterville, ME, led him to begin lessons with Ray Cornils of Portland, ME. Two years later he began the duties of organist at Corpus Christi Parish, and at the Universalist-Unitarian Church of Waterville. He held these positions and continued to study privately with Ray Cornils until he left Maine to attend St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Music in Church Music. While at St. Olaf he studied organ performance with John Ferguson and Catherine Rodland, and choral conducting with Christopher Aspaas and Anton Armstrong. During summers he held positions of interim organist at Penney Memorial United Baptist Church in Augusta, ME, and St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Brunswick, ME. He was also the first organ scholar at the Church of St. Louis, King of France in St. Paul, MN, under the supervision of Brian Carson. In the spring of 2012, Christopher completed the degree of Master of Music in Organ Performance at the University of Oklahoma, having studied organ with John Schwandt.
Currently, Christopher is the Director of Music and Organist at St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Oklahoma City, OK, where he directs the twenty-voice adult choir, coaches and supervises adult and youth cantors, and plays the organ for the parish’s four weekend liturgies. In addition, he plans and plays for all liturgies connected with St. Charles Borromeo Catholic School.
In 2011, Christopher was awarded first prize in both the Paul and Ruth Manz Scholarship Competition and the Albert Schweitzer Organ Festival National Competition. In 2012, Christopher was awarded first prize in the John R. Rodland Memorial Scholarship competition. He has appeared in recital in locations that include First Parish Church in Brunswick, ME, First Church of Christ in Wethersfield, CT, St. Louis, King of France in St. Paul, MN, and here at The Basilica of Ss. Peter and Paul. In the fall of 2012, Christopher will begin studies toward the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts at the Univeristy of Oklahoma, under the tutelage of John Schwandt.
Karen Pierce thinks of singing as painting with sound. She has performed in concert and recital in Maine and New York, as well as Italy, Austria and Asia. As guest artist at the University of Melbourne (Australia), she presented a concert of American Songs, and taught a master class for singers.
Formerly on the voice faculty of Bowdoin, Bates, and Colby Colleges, she has also maintained a private voice studio for over twenty years.
Karen has extensive experience as a church musician, both as soloist and director, in churches in Maine and New York. She also works as a Clinician, designing and leading Retreats and Workshops for both choirs and individual singing participants.
Karen has studied with retired Metropolitan Opera coach Millard Altman since 1996
Wednesday, August 20, 12:15 pm – 12:45 pm: Organist Mark Thallander, pianists Glenda Winkle-Morrow and Kathy Haley
Friday, September 12, 7:30 pm: Organist Rich Spotts
Organist Richard Spotts, a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and a graduate of Westminster Choir College here in Princeton, has set out to perform and educate the public of this seminal work, with the ultimate goal of performing the complete fifteen hour cycle in a recital series over a period of ten days. This project has taken him parishes and cathedrals far afield such as the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Denver, Trinity Copley Square in Boston, and the National Cathedral in Washington, DC in addition to churches in Atlanta, Miami, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Québec City. So far Mr. Spotts has given over sixty recitals involving fifty institutions in the United States and Canada and he is now in the process of writing a book on the subject.
Mr. Spotts’ recital features movements from Charles Tournemire seminal work, L’Orgue Mystique. Although today Tournemire is shrouded in popular obscurity, Tournemire was one of the greatest organists of his day with his mystical organ style directly influencing the works of Olivier Messiaen, Ermend-Bonnal, Joseph Bonnet, Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur, Jehan Alain, Maurice Duruflé and Jean Langlais. Born in Bordeaux in 1870, Tournemire, who was a student of César Franck and Charles Marie Widor, became organist of Sainte-Clotilde in 1898, a post Tournemire retained until his death in 1939.