After more than 12 years of service, Murray Forbes Somerville will depart from his office as Gund University Organist and Choirmaster, and Curator of the University Organs in the Memorial Church and take up a new appointment as director of music at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Nashville, Tenn.
“Sunday after Sunday, day after day, year after year, we have benefited from his talent, imagination, and energy. It is no small tribute that in his time his position has been endowed by the Gund benefaction, and that his programs of Choral Fellows and Organ Scholars have been such a success. Murray’s tenure here has been filled with vital music making and he departs at the top of his form, leaving behind many grateful friends and admirers. A talent we will have a chance to celebrate in his last concert, Johann Sebastian Bach’s, ‘St. John Passion,'” said the Rev. Professor Peter J. Gomes, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister in the Memorial Church.
Since arriving at Harvard in 1990, Somerville has led the Harvard University Choir on three European tours and in seven CD recordings, the last of which gained a four-star review from BBC Music Magazine. He founded the Harvard Baroque Chamber Orchestra in 1995, and instituted the Choral Fellows program two years ago. As faculty adviser to the Harvard Organ Society, he has also led three European organ study trips.
In addition to fostering the musical talents of Harvard’s students, Somerville still has found the time to nurture his own performance in a newly released CD of organ music by John Knowles Paine, his nineteenth century Harvard predecessor, who was also the subject of his doctoral research.
Somerville’s new position will require him to expand on the current music program at St. George. A builder throughout his career, he finds the challenge of creating, improving, and building on existing programs an exciting part of his ministry. “Throughout my career I have been a builder; it is an exhilarating prospect to be given the chance to do this again, probably for the last time in my professional career – especially in a beautiful place that they call ‘Music City, USA!'”
Somerville’s final concert is April 18.