To present a fuller picture of myself as a church musician, I believe some background on my faith and my discovery of the organ is relevant here. I am originally from Seoul, South Korea. My great-grandfather was among the first priests of the Anglican Cathedral of Korea, and even today, many of my family members continue to serve the cathedral as clergy. As a child, I attended the Seoul Anglican Cathedral every week, where I encountered for the first time the striking timbre of the Harrison & Harrison pipe organ of England. At that time, there were not many pipe organs in Korea, and I was privileged to have grown up with the sound of this rare instrument, which I always found so expressive and fitting for worship. For me, pursuing the organ has been a way to maintain my family’s tradition of connection and service to the church, albeit in a new, non-clerical incarnation.
I began studying piano at the age of four. Later, I went on to major in organ studies at the church music department of Yonsei University, where I earned my Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance and graduated with the highest distinction and honor. Afterward, I received my Master of Music in Music History from Yonsei University.
In 2008, I came to the United States to continue my studies with Dr. Judith Hancock at the University of Texas at Austin, where I earned a second Master’s degree in Organ Performance. I also studied improvisation with Dr. Gerre Hancock and choral conducting with Dr. Suzanne Pence there. In 2013, I earned my Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance from the University of Texas at Austin and was awarded the Outstanding Doctor of Musical Arts Recital Prize for excellence in organ playing. At UT-Austin, I was a recipient of the Hugh McAmis Memorial Scholarship and Butler Excellence Scholarship.
Some of my career highlights include being selected as the First Prize winner of the William C. Hall Pipe Organ Competition and being awarded the Hymn Playing Excellence Prize. In 2017, I was featured as one of three organists at the Discovery Series of the Oregon Bach Festival. In 2018, I oversaw the tonal design and installation of the new 47 ranks Peragallo Pipe Organ (Opus 751) at A&M United Methodist Church. Also, my recognition was on radio waves where my playing was featured on American Public Media’s “Pipedreams.”
I have served as the organist, choral director, and handbell choir director for many churches since 2000, most recently serving eight years at A&M United Methodist Church of College Station in Texas, where I served as the Associate Director of Music Ministry and Organist for all traditional worship services. I accompanied the Chancel Choir, Chapel Choir, and Cherub Choir. I also served as the interim choral director of the University Choir. I performed numerous large works, including Handel’s Messiah, Vivaldi’s Gloria, Fauré’s Requiem, Dubois’ The Seven Last Words of Christ, Rutter’s Requiem, Forrest’s The Requiem for the Living, Goodall’s Eternal Light: A Requiem, Vierne’s Messe Solennelle, and Duruflé’s Requiem. In addition, I oversaw the handbell program. I directed the Adult Handbell Ensemble and initiated the Children’s Chime Choir.
In my free time, I enjoy cooking and baking. When I bake cookies, pies, and muffins, they create a warm and comfortable scent that makes me feel snug. My version of an ideal night involves some classical music, a good book, and hanging out with my husband. You can also find me visiting botanical gardens or looking for my next great traveling adventure.
I hope to bring more joy and peace into people’s lives through music, that they might grow closer to God. I am so blessed to be a part of First Lutheran Church of Palo Alto!