Hannah Cruse is a professional musician committed to “art for life's sake.” From age 12 through her early 20s, Cruse aimed to become an orchestral oboist, dedicating herself intensely to that goal. In high school, her home church in Fairfield Bay, Arkansas offered her the opportunity to lead the music program as choir director and keyboardist. That eye-opening experience sparked in Cruse a spiritual longing for theological study, church music and the organ. It also molded her into a responsible young leader. In college at Southern Methodist University, Cruse majored in both oboe and organ performance, receiving a Bachelor of Music in 2017. Ultimately, she felt called toward the church more than the orchestra, so she completed a Masters of Sacred Music with an organ emphasis at Southern Methodist University in 2019.
Cruse has accrued many honors over the years in the music field. She received third place in the 2016 International Double Reed Society Young Artist Competition (Columbus, Goergia), first place in the 2015 Meadows Undergraduate Concerto competition (Dallas, Texas), and first place in the 2012 Stella Boyle Young Artist Competition (Little Rock, Arkansas). She played concertos with the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra in 2014 and the Meadows Symphony Orchestra in 2016. As an organist, Cruse received the National Federation of Music Clubs Elizabeth Greiger Wiegand Sacred Music of the Faiths Award in 2012. The American Guild of Organists commissioned Cruse and Trey Stricklin, an SMU colleague, to compose and perform a new composition for organ in 2016. The Perkins School of Theology (Dallas, Texas) awarded Cruse the Roger Deschner Prize in Sacred Music for “academic excellence, musical abilities, and overall achievement in the Masters of Sacred Music program” in 2018 and, in 2019, the Fellowship Seminarian Award “for outstanding leadership in music and worship arts.”
Cruse believes in the power of music to change lives. Because of this fundamental belief, she studies, promotes and performs sacred music. Cruse currently works as the music director and organist at West Plano Presbyterian Church in Plano, Texas. Previously, she worked various music positions at Northridge Presbyterian Church (Dallas), Epiphany Episcopal Church (Richardson, Texas), Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (Dallas), and Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church (Fairfield Bay, Arkansas). Cruse has articles published in The Canterbury Dictionary of Hymnology and the United Methodist Church’s History of Hymns website. Cruse frequently presents creative recitals, utilizing her many instrumental talents, that celebrate the beauty of God’s diverse creation. Cruse teaches music to children in lesson and camp settings. She offers workshops to churches that want to enrich their congregations’ musical appreciation and participation. And she composes and arranges music to accommodate the needs of individual congregations. In a world full of hate, fear, and suffering, Cruse strives to impart love, acceptance, and peace through the art of music.