B i o g r a p h y
Organist, lecturer, and pedagogue Katelyn Emerson, hailed as "one of the world's most promising organists" (Listvinafélag Hallgrímskirkju, Iceland), is internationally renowned for performances throughout North America, Europe, and Asia that are "thrilling from beginning to end" and that showcase repertoire from the 14th—21st centuries with “impressive technical facility and musicianship” (Cleveland Classical). Recent and upcoming concert venues include Walt Disney Hall (Los Angeles, California), Longwood Gardens (Kennett Square, Pennsylvania), Hallgrímskirkja (Reykjavík, Iceland), Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic Hall (Russia), Cathédrale Saint-Omer (France), Kurhaus Wiesbaden (Germany), Basílica de Santa Maria de Montserrat (Spain), Cathédrale St-Quentin (Hasselt, Belgium), Hauptkirche St. Petri (Hamburg, Germany), Cathédrale Poitiers (France), Västerås domkyrka (Sweden), Church of St. John the Evangelist (London, England), Musashino Civic Cultural Hall (Japan), Riverside Church (New York, New York), Benaroya Hall (Seattle, Washington), and Merrill Auditorium (Portland, Maine), among others, and inauguration performances, including those at Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and Trinity Wall Street (both in New York, New York).
Prizewinner of competitions on three continents, Katelyn garners acclaim from listeners new to classical music and audiences of organ aficionados and colleagues alike for her "beautifully designed program[s]" (Orgue Canada), "refreshingly original and interesting" program notes (The Diapason), and "careful ear and sense of musicality that puts her at the top of recitalists performing today" (Journal of American Organbuilding). Having been awarded first prize in the American Guild of Organists’ (AGO) 2016 National Young
Artists' Competition in Organ Performance (Houston, Texas), the Guild's premier performance competition, Katelyn performed at the 2018 National Convention of the AGO in Kansas City (Missouri) after having given over 70 concerts throughout the United States and Europe in the intervening two years. She received the Second Jean Boyer Award in the 2014 Fifth International Organ Competition "Pierre de Manchicourt" (Béthune and Saint-Omer, France), the second prize of the 2015 Arthur Poister Scholarship Competition (Syracuse, New York), and the third prize of the VIII Musashino International Organ Competition (Tokyo, Japan). Katelyn was awarded the title of “Laureate” and Third Place, as well as recital prizes, when competing as the youngest finalist in the VIII Mikael Tariverdiev International Organ Competition (Kaliningrad, Russia). Winner of the 2011 Region V AGO/Quimby Regional Competition for Young Organists (Lexington, Kentucky), she has also received numerous scholarships for her musical and academic work, including the 2013 M. Louise Miller Scholarship and the 2015 McClelland Community Music Foundation Scholarship. Katelyn was selected as part of the inaugural "20 under 30 - Class of 2015" for The Diapason magazine, a group of "young talents in the fields of organ and harpsichord performance, organ and harpsichord building, carillon, and church music" who show "superior accomplishments, leadership, creativity, and
Photograph by Rosen-Jones Photography
innovative thinking." Katelyn has two CD recordings on the Pro Organo label: Evocations (2017), featuring the historic 1936 Aeolian-Skinner organ at the Church of the Advent (Boston, Massachusetts) and Inspirations (2018), sponsored by the Andover Organ Company in honor of their 70th anniversary and recorded on their Op. 114 at Christ Lutheran Church (Baltimore, Maryland). Her interviews and performances can be heard on such radio programs as American Public Media’s Pipedreams, WXXI-FM's With Heart and Voice, Radio VM's Récit au grand orgue, Québec, Radio Russia, and Radio Présence Toulouse, France.
Katelyn is based both in the USA and the UK, having been awarded a Studentship from the Economic and Social Science Research Council Doctoral Training Partnership (ESRC DTP) and a Bursary from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) for her MPhil/PhD studies at the Centre for Music and Science at the University of Cambridge. Katelyn holds a Master of Arts in organ from the Musikhochschule für Musik und Darstellende Kunst (Stuttgart, Germany), where she was supported by a German Academic Exchange Scholarship (DAAD), and, as recipient of the prestigious Fulbright Study/Research Grant, Katelyn studied en perfectionnement at the Conservatoire à Rayonnement Régional de Toulouse (France) with Michel Bouvard and Jan Willem Jansen. She holds a Bachelor of Music in organ and a Bachelor of Arts in French as well as minors in music history and historical performance (fortepiano) from Oberlin College and Conservatory (Ohio, USA). During her time at Oberlin, she taught music theory at the Oberlin Community Music School, received the Selby Harlan Houston prize for distinguished work in organ and music theory, and was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the national music honors society. Katelyn began her organ studies in 2005 through a scholarship of the Young Organist Collaborative (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) and has studied with Ludger Lohmann, Olivier Latry, Hans-Ola Ericsson, James David Christie, Marie-Louise Langlais, Ray Cornils, and Abbey Hallberg-Siegfried. She has also studied organ improvisation with Jeffrey Brillhart, Marie-Louise Langlais, and Bálint Karosi, piano with Arlene Kies, fortepiano with David Breitman and Yasuko Uyama-Bouvard, harpsichord and continuo with Webb Wiggins, flute with Trisha Craig, and voice with Ellen Hargis.
In addition to teaching privately, Katelyn has served on the faculty of the St. Andrews Organ Academy (Scotland, UK), the McGill Student Organ Academy (Montréal, Canada), the Oberlin Summer Organ Academy (Ohio, USA), and numerous AGO-sponsored Pipe Organ Encounters throughout the United States. She is frequently invited to join various juries for national organ interpretation and church music competitions and scholarships. Having received a Certificate in Advanced Occupational Ergonomics from Colorado State University, she regularly presents masterclasses and lectures on healthy practice techniques, organ interpretation, and sacred music for AGO-sponsored events and at universities in the USA and UK. She was invited to present workshops on recently published organ music for church services in the 2013 Regional Convention of the AGO (Hartford, Connecticut) Regions I & II, and the 2015 Northeastern Regional Convention of the AGO (New Haven, Connecticut). She is
Photograph by Julianne Turé
associate editor of the online editorial journal Vox Humana (voxhumanajournal.com) and often contributes feature articles for the UK's Choir & Organ magazine. In addition to her volunteer work with charity organizations such as Scotland's Sowne of Organe to increase public awareness of the cultural and technological significance of extant historic organs, Katelyn serves on the Membership Committee of the Organ Historical Society and as a board member of the European Chapter of the AGO. She has previously served on the Executive Committee of the Boston Chapter of the AGO and holds professional memberships in the Association of Anglican Musicians and the American Musicological Society.
Katelyn was Associate Organist & Choirmaster at the Church of the Advent (Boston, Massachusetts) from 2016-2018, where she worked with the professional Choir of the Church of the Advent, the volunteer Parish Choir, and the historic Aeolian-Skinner organ. From 2010-2015, Katelyn was music director of St. Paul Lutheran Church (Amherst, Ohio) where she oversaw all musical aspects of the liturgy while working with the adult and bell choirs. In January 2012, Katelyn served as the Oberlin Sacred Music Intern under music director Keith Tóth at the Brick Presbyterian Church (New York, New York), where she subsequently substituted for Mr. Tóth for the months of July from 2012 through 2015.
Updated: 18 September 2023
Katelyn Emerson's North and Central American appearances are managed by Karen McFarlane Artists, Inc., www.concertorganists.com