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SMU names new Leah Young Fullinwider Centennial Chair In Music Performance

New chair funded by $2 million gift from Sarah and Ross Perot Jr.

September 30, 2014

DALLAS (SMU) --- Following an international search, world-renowned organist and educator Stefan Engels has joined the Division of Music at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts as the new Leah Young Fullinwider Centennial Chair in Music Performance.

Stefan Engels

The new senior position was made possible by a $2 million gift from Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr., in honor of Sarah’s mother, Mrs. Leah Fullinwider. The position is the first Endowed Centennial Chair in the Meadows School of the Arts and the second for SMU.

“We are grateful to Sarah and Ross Perot, Jr. for their appreciation of the importance of distinguished artists and teachers as endowed professors in the Meadows School,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “Stefan Engels will bring worldwide experience and acclaim to his students in Meadows. He also will teach in Perkins School of Theology as a model of cross-disciplinary sharing of outstanding professors.”

Engels, winner of the “Concerto Gold Medal” at the 1998 Calgary International Organ Competition, has served as professor of organ at one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious  musical institutions, the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in Leipzig, Germany, since 2005. He is also the founder and artistic director of the European Organ Academy Leipzig. He maintains a busy international concert schedule with performances from London to Vienna to Seoul. He has also recorded two highly acclaimed CDs on the Naxos and Priory labels.

“Without a doubt, Stefan Engels is one of the world’s top organists and organ pedagogues,” said Sam Holland, director of music and interim dean of the Meadows School of the Arts. “For many years, he has brought an outstanding class of young organists to his teaching position at Leipzig.  He is equally brilliant as a concert organist and as a high liturgical organist, and each will be important since he will be teaching in both the Meadows School of the Arts and the Perkins School of Theology at SMU. We couldn’t be more pleased to bring an organist of his talent and pedigree to Dallas. Great things lie ahead.”

The international search for the new chair was led by Dr. Pamela Elrod, director of choral activities at Meadows. The search committee included SMU faculty members Andres Díaz, international concert cellist; Xi Wang, award-winning composer; and Christopher Anderson, associate professor of sacred music, as well as noted Dallas Morning News classical music critic Scott Cantrell.

Engels will present his first concert at SMU on Saturday, November 22, with a program of classic French works spanning the centuries. Included will be Nicolas de Grigny’s Selections from Livre d’Orgue (1699), Michel Corrette’s 18th-century Organ Concertos No. 2 and No. 5, and Louis Vierne’s Symphonie IV, op. 32 (1914). The concert is offered in partnership with the Dallas Bach Society and will also feature a Baroque orchestra. For more information, visit meadows.smu.edu.

About Stefan Engels

Stefan Engels began his tenure as professor of organ in the fall of 2005 at one of Europe’s oldest and most prestigious musical institutions, the University of Music and Theatre “Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy” in Leipzig, Germany.  This appointment was preceded by his position as associate professor of organ and chair of the organ department at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey.   

During his appointment in Leipzig, Engels helped shape the university’s Church Music Institute as a center for organ performance and organ pedagogy of international acclaim.  He also founded and served as artistic director of the European Organ Academy Leipzig, which attracts faculty and students from around the world.  In 2009 the Academy was given a generous grant from the German Academic Exchange Service.  Engels is also the initiator and chair of the jury for the International Competition in Organ Improvisation in Leipzig.  In 2006 Engels was named artistic director of the Jordan International Organ Competition based at Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. As a juror, he is in frequent demand at international organ competitions such as the Mendelssohn Competition, the Bach Competition and the Deutscher Musikwettbewerb, all in Germany, as well as the St. Albans International Organ Festival and the Canadian International Organ Competition.  Furthermore, as an advocate and specialist for the music of the late-Romantic German composer Sigfrid Karg-Elert, he founded the Karg-Elert Festtage in Leipzig, demonstrating and discovering the unique works of this Leipzig composer.

Engels maintains a vigorous international concert schedule and is a sought-after teacher, having presented lectures and master classes across Europe, North America and South Korea. Recital engagements have included Smetana Hall in Prague, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, Victoria Hall in Geneva, the Berlin Philharmonic, Gewandhaus Leipzig, Torch Centre in Seoul, St. Augustine in Vienna, Chartres Cathedral, Hallgrimskirkja Reykjavik, Sydney Cathedral, St. Jakobi Lübeck, Harvard University, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Meyerson Symphony Center in Dallas, King’s College Cambridge, Spivey Hall in Atlanta, Balboa Park in San Diego and the Cadet Chapel of West Point.  He was a featured recitalist at the 2006 national convention of the American Guild of Organists in Chicago.

Engels has recorded two highly acclaimed CDs with works by Marcel Dupré on the Naxos label, and one with works of Karg-Elert, Reger, Messiaen and Germani on the Priory label as part of their Great European Organ Series.  His specialization in the organ works of Sigfrid Karg-Elert has resulted in the world premiere recording of the complete organ works of Karg-Elert, also on the Priory label.  Of this 14-CD project, eight CDs are now available for purchase and have been reviewed to the highest international acclaim.

Engels received his broad musical education in Germany and the United States.  He studied organ, piano, harpsichord, choral conducting and church music at the universities in Aachen, Düsseldorf and Cologne.  From 1993 until 1998 he pursued further organ studies with Wolfgang Rübsam in Chicago and the late Robert Anderson in Dallas, receiving an Artist Certificate degree from the Meadows School in 1995.  He achieved his international breakthrough when he was awarded the “Concerto Gold Medal” at the 1998 Calgary International Organ Competition.  Since then he has been represented by Karen McFarlane Artists Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio.

About the Division of Music at SMU Meadows School of the Arts

The Division of Music in the Meadows School of the Arts is a professional, comprehensive educational institution devoted to the advancement of music performance and scholarship, to the preparation of the next generation of music professionals, and to service in the artistic life of our community, our nation and the world. The music faculty – including violinists Chee-Yun Kim and Emanuel Borok, cellist Andrés Díaz, pianist Joaquín Achúcarro, classical guitarist Robert Guthrie, operatic tenor Clifton Forbis and members of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra – consists of a truly outstanding team of internationally acclaimed artists, scholars and educators who care deeply about their students and who work in close collaboration to serve the mission of the school. The approximately 300 students in the Meadows Division of Music pursue a broad range of undergraduate and graduate degree options, including the Bachelor of Music degree (Performance, Music Education, Music Therapy, and Composition), the Bachelor of Arts in Music degree (liberal arts focus), the Master of Music degree (professional focus, advanced studies), and the graduate level Performer’s Diploma and Artist Diploma (elite performance focus). All degrees and diplomas offered by the Division of Music are accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music.

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A private university located in the heart of Dallas, SMU is building on the vision of its founders, who imagined a distinguished center of learning emerging from the spirit of the city. Today, nearly 11,000 students benefit from the national opportunities and international reach provided by the quality of SMU’s seven degree-granting schools.