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Fulbright scholar and classical organist gained well-rounded foundation at WCSU
Stephen Price '09

WCSU 2009 graduate and Fulbright Scholar Stephen Price has traveled widely to pursue advanced music studies and perform in some of the world’s great venues for organ concerts, yet he looks back to his undergraduate studies at Western as the place where he prepared a solid base for future success.

Price already had shown a budding passion and talent for musical performance in organ competitions and music camps during his youth, and the Buffalo, N.Y., native chose Western over other prestigious college music programs to study organ performance under the guidance of Adjunct Professor of Music Stephen Roberts. Price gained fresh appreciation for the wisdom of that decision over the course of his experience at Western, which he credited for providing a “well-rounded education” that has enabled him to make the most of his opportunities for advanced studies.

“The WCSU music department has always had a strong music education program,” he said. “Even as a performance major, I learned many practical skills such as choral conducting and music technology.”

Price cited School of Visual and Performing Arts Dean Dr. Dan Goble as an important influence in motivating him to draw the most from his educational opportunities and musical gifts. “Dr. Goble was the chair of the music department when I was a student. He played an important role in my life, as well as every other student at Western, by his constant determination and strong work ethic values. It was always clear that Dr. Goble was doing everything he possibly could to improve and bring the program to the next level.”

As his organ teacher at WCSU, Roberts “gave me a wide palette of tools that helped in the development of my career,” Price said. “Professor Roberts opened many pathways for me, but also expected me to decide for myself and do the necessary work needed in order to succeed.

“My studies with Professor Roberts were constructed in a well-rounded manner. In addition to my private lessons, I received training in organ construction, organ design, and church music.” He recalled that his participation in the annual January organ program trips to Europe “allowed me to get a head start on what was to come during my Fulbright year in France.”

Price received guidance at Western beyond his academic field from mentors such as Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Walter Bernstein, who took a keen interest in the young organist’s academic and musical development and “offered insight on many occasions to the administrative side of academia.” In preparation for his successful application for a Fulbright Scholarship, he also forged a close mentoring relationship with Professor of Anthropology Dr. Rob Whittemore and Professor of Political Science Dr. Chris Kukk.

“The application process to apply for a Fulbright is very strenuous and could practically be a course in itself,” Price said. In drawing upon their experience with the Fulbright program to mentor him through the complicated steps to complete the application, “these two professors gave me constant encouragement and support, which is vital for any student to have when you are going through this process.”

Price took full advantage of his successful application with the completion of his Fulbright studies at the Conservatoire national de région de Toulouse, France.  He performed concerts at the Basilica of St-Sernin and other venues in Toulouse as well as the American Church in Parish. At the conclusion of his Fulbright program, he received the Toulouse conservatory’s François Vidal Prize and the Diplôme d’études musicales (equivalent to a U.S. Artist Diploma) in organ, awarded with high honors.

Since his return to the United States, he has continued an active performance schedule while pursuing studies for a Master of Music degree in organ performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Recent performances have included concerts at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan and Westminster Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, as well as the inaugural recital in the Super Nova concert series at Piedmont College in Demorest, Ga.  Price’s program at St. Thomas of classical organ arrangements by Bach, Dupré, Sweelinck and Duruflé received a standing ovation and high praise in a review published by the online website Lucid Culture.

“He may be only a couple of years out of college, but Stephen Price provided at St. Thomas Church that he’s a rising star of the organ circuit,” the review observed. “He did it with a diverse and difficult program which… gave him the opportunity to showcase his grasp of pretty much everything that’s possible with a big pipe organ.”

As he now prepares to begin studies this fall for the Doctorate of Musical Arts in organ performance at Indiana University, Price urged current students in music and other performing arts programs at Western to seek out a wide range of educational and cultural experiences. “My advice is to make the effort to go the extra mile,” he said, suggesting that students research arts events in cultural centers from New York and New Haven to Boston. “Take advantage of every opportunity that WCSU has to offer,” he advised.

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