In September of 2016 Chronicler musical, La Liberté reviewed Concert Organist Sarah Svendsen’s playing of the Jongen Organ Concerto with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra as “greatly virtuosic.” Svendsen is a graduate of the Yale School of Music and has performed in Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States and Canada.
In her performance career, Svendsen specializes in outreach and engagement via fun interactive solo concert engagements. Sarah finds great joy in collaboration both as a soloist or in an ensemble. In November of 2019, Svendsen worked with the Winnipeg Symphony as soloist for the Poulenc Organ Concerto, and her organ duo, Organized Crime Duo, is well-known for its athletic, inspiring, and always silly stage performances. In her academic work, Svendsen specializes in the study of musician and organist occupational health and safety, the latter of which serves as her dissertation topic at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music, where she is a Doctoral Candidate. Svendsen serves on the Royal Canadian College of Organist’s (RCCO) National Strategic Planning Committee.
Svendsen is an avid supporter of organ education. She designs the curriculum for the RCCO’s National Summer Organ Academy and she is an adjudicator and an organ instructor. She was a 2018/2019 RCCO Traveling Clinician and is a regular guest artist for Toronto DARE Arts, which is an inner-city arts education program. Sarah is well-known for giving child-friendly educational organ outreach concerts and workshops.
Svendsen is a past laureate of the Royal Canadian College of Organist’s (RCCO) National Organ Playing Competition. In the fall of 2014, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) released a video recording of Sarah playing Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in d minor on its YouTube channel. In June of 2015, Sarah was part of the Luminato Festival production and CBC Radio 2 broadcast of Canadian composer R. Murray Schafer’s Apocalypsis, playing the sole organ in an ensemble of over 1000 under conductor David Fallis (click here for CD information). Some of Sarah’s other engagements have included the Canadian International Organ Competition “Christmas Across Canada” Virtual Concert (collaborative), St Paul’s Cathedral Sunday Organ Recital Series (U.K.), the St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church Concert Series (Pittsburgh, U.S.A.), the Truro Cathedral Lunchtime Concert Series (U.K.), the Stratford Summer Music Festival (Canada), and the Copenhagen International Organ Festival (Denmark).
When not concertizing, Sarah spends her time in Toronto freelancing and pursuing a DMA in Organ Performance under Dr. Patricia Wright at her alma mater, the University of Toronto. Sarah holds a Master’s degree in organ from the Yale School of Music where she studied with Professor Thomas Murray. This degree was in conjunction with the Yale Institute of Sacred Music where she completed the Institute’s Church Music Diploma. For the 2013/14 Yale academic year, Sarah was the organist for Battell Chapel, Yale University Church. From 2009 until 2014, Sarah was the assistant at Toronto’s Metropolitan United Church, known for housing the largest pipe organ in Canada. Sarah was born and raised in rural Nova Scotia, Canada.