Following an international search, world-renowned organist and educator Stefan Engels has joined the Division of Music in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts as the new Leah Young Fullinwider Endowed Centennial Chair in Music Performance. The new endowed 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.
The winner of the “Concerto Gold Medal” at the 1998 Calgary International Organ Competition, Engels 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 and has recorded two highly acclaimed CDs on the Naxos and Priory labels.
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. 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.
“Without a doubt, Stefan Engels is one of the world’s top organists and organ pedagogues,” said Sam Holland, director of music and Meadows interim dean. “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 search for the new chair was led by Pamela Elrod, director of choral activities at Meadows. The search committee included SMU faculty members Andrés 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 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 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 will present his first concert at SMU, “à la française!,” on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 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.