John A. Ferguson


Ferguson earned a B.M. from Oberlin, an M.M. from Kent State University, and a D.M.A. from the Eastman School of Music, where he studied with Russell Saunders. His responsibilities include directing the church music-organ program, teaching organ and conducting the St. Olaf Cantorei. Ferguson came to St. Olaf in 1983 from Minneapolis where he served Central Lutheran Church as Music Director and Organist, an appointment accepted in 1978 after a 15-year tenure on the music faculty at Kent State University. While at Kent State he also served as Organist-Choirmaster of the United Church of Christ, Kent, Ohio during which time he served as music editor for the United Church of Christ Hymnal, 1974. He has spent summers as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame and was invited to spend sabbatical leave time as visiting professor at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

He is respected as a fine teacher and performer, and his skill as improviser and leader of congregational song has received national acclaim. Each year he prepares and leads many festivals across the country both for local congregations and professional gatherings. A Ferguson hymn festival is much more than an inspiring organ recital, according to Emily Brink, Past President of the Hymn Society, "He involves everyone present in a glorious community of sound. Everyone gets to perform."

Dr. Ferguson is the author of numerous books and articles on church music and organ building. His choral and organ music is published by Augsburg, Concordia, Galaxy, G.I.A., Hope, Kjos, Morning Star, Selah and Stainer and Bell. In 2005 his composition, “Who Is This” for choir and viola was awarded the prestigious Raabe Prize for excellence in sacred composition.

Since joining the St. Olaf faculty, Ferguson's skills as choral conductor and creative arranger have become more widely known. He brings a special combination of experience as choral singer (Oberlin College Choir under Robert Fountain), church musician (both part-time and full-time) and participant in the St. Olaf choral tradition to his workshops in conducting and repertoire for church choirs which are considered highlights at conventions of professional organizations. He has been invited to design and present hymn festivals for national and regional conventions of both The American Guild of Organists and The American Choral Directors Association as well as many national gatherings of church musicians. He has presented such events abroad as well both in Asia (Seoul, Korea) and Europe (in the National Cathedral of Norway, Nidaros Dom, Trondheim, as a part of the celebration of the millennium of the birth of St. Olaf).