Hello friends, and welcome to my website!
I can’t wait to share some of my musical experiences with all of you on my new website! I thought the best way to informally introduce myself to you all would be to provide you with a biography of a slightly less formal nature, and so here it is, the REAL Story.
Until next time,
Sarah Svendsen was born and raised in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, a town just shy of 10,000 people. She started piano at the late age of 8, inspired by and slightly jealous of her friends who were already studying. Her parents supported this endeavour because child Sarah was of an energetic disposition, and could be a bit of a handful (*ahem*) and they felt it would help drive her energy in a positive direction. Sarah thus began piano lessons.
The next major musical life event for Sarah came at the beginning of Junior High when the band teacher needed a piano player for the stage band. This is how Sarah learned to sight-read… with an amp turned all the way up in front of all of the old kids! Throughout junior high and high school Sarah learned to play various instruments to various degrees. This was due to Sarah’s interest in doing everything, as well as the fact that the band directors learned she would disturb the class less if she was teaching herself the oboe during class. It was a jazz scene so she pretended she could play jazz, but, alas, her back-up career as a tailgate trombone player is probably a castle in the sky. The instruments that stuck the most were flute and trombone, in addition to a deep love for the Tower of Power and Duke Ellington. She feels strongly that this jazz background helped prepare her for all of the Vierne she has recently been playing. At times, Sarah can still be spotted playing the flute, either in a jazz worship service, at a wedding, or when the morning offertory soloist’s alarm clock doesn’t go off. In summary, all of this is to give a shout-out to New Glasgow, a town full of freakishly talented teachers and students supporting a huge music scene which to this day breeds multi-instrument-playing singers who like to step dance.
While studying piano, Sarah was given a pamphlet offering free organ lessons from the Royal Canadian College of Organists (RCCO) Halifax Centre. Her teacher said, “I think you’d be good at this.” Fifteen-year-old Sarah figured that working as an organist could be fun and that for an after school job it would be way better than working at a fast food restaurant (although she eventually ended up doing both simultaneously during her undergrad) and she therefore applied for the scholarship. Sarah is only slightly embarrassed that she had attended church most of her life and didn’t consider the organ until someone suggested it. She feels it is more important to tell the world how she would never have played the organ without that pamphlet, and tries to hand out pamphlets as often as she is able. Anyway, Sarah started studying organ with Wayne Rogers at age 15 in New Glasgow and she got a job offer before her first lesson and she was all “HEY – A JOB!” — “MUSICIANS CAN GET JOBS!!!!” She studied seriously for a year or two and then decided she wanted to be a foreign kid and applied to be a Rotary International Student.
When Sarah got to Denmark, she decided that she wanted to take organ lessons, and she wanted to find an organ with 4 manuals (because New Glasgow’s largest organ had 3). She googled “4-manual organs,” and emailed the church closest to her with these specifications – well she thought – everything was in Danish and at that point she could only say “hello” and “happy birthday”. Luckily, Randi Mortensen, the organist at the Odense Domkirke took her on as a student. So began Sarah’s introduction to a large amount of solo repertoire. This “introduction” was because while in New Glasgow, Sarah was learning emergency music for church services, but now she didn’t have a job and could practice lots of Bach, and she did, and it was great, and she called her parents one day (aged 17) and said… I WANT TO BE AN ORGANIST!!!! And they said: “Awesome, are you sure you’ll be able to eat?” And she said “No clue, I’ll marry rich.”
So then she worked really hard and a bunch of academic/impressive title stuff happened (see official bio for more info). Everyone was great and supportive, and this helped Sarah work hard and accomplish a lot of accomplishments. Sarah is still thankful for all of the support from all of her worlds (New Glasgow, Toronto, Denmark, RCCO, and now New Haven) and is still in academia, looking forward to having a job without essays in the (hopefully but unlikely) near future.