Frank Ferko

The music of Frank Ferko is heard regularly in live performances and radio broadcasts around the world. His works have been performed in such venues as the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music, Jusqu'aux oreilles (Montreal), Festival Oude Muziek (Utrecht) and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists, American Choral Directors Association and Chorus America. From 2001 to 2003 Mr. Ferko held the position of Composer-in-Residence with the Dale Warland Singers (St. Paul, Minnesota), and for many years he has maintained a close association with the Chicago-based choral ensemble Bella Voce.

Mr. Ferko has received commissions from ensembles and individual artists across the United States and abroad and has been the recipient of awards and grants from many organizations, including the American Composers Forum, American Music Center, American Guild of Organists, Meet the Composer, and the Jerome Foundation. Between 1995 and 2006 he received a total of seven awards from the Illinois Arts Council, and from 1989 to 2014 he received an award every year from American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers.

Mr. Ferko’s music is published exclusively by E. C. Schirmer Music Company, and his works have been recorded on a variety of labels, including Arsis, Cedille, Gasparo, Hyperion, Loft and Herald.

Frank Ferko (b. 1950, Barberton, Ohio) began piano study at an early age and went on to earn a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and organ performance at Valparaiso University. He holds a Master of Music degree in music theory from Syracuse University and the Doctor of Music degree in composition from Northwestern University. He currently lives in Berkeley, California.

Over the years I have studied a great deal of music from all eras, and I have been strongly attracted to music for the voice, particularly choral music. This studying process has become easier over time as the internet has developed in increasingly more sophisticated ways. As a result of these studies, and my own performance background, I have developed a musical style which often combines compositional elements from different eras into a single work. It is a stylistic blending process (or fusion, I suppose) which offers the possibility of combining disparate musical styles into a seamlessly woven musical fabric, or in some cases, into a work that focuses on the contrasting of the styles of the component elements but still remains a unified work. So it not unusual to hear, in one of my works, tone clusters, elements of Renaissance counterpoint, and passages in the style of Medieval chant. The performance medium for which this kind of “combinatorial style” works best is that of choral music although I have used it in some of my instrumental works as well–especially those for the organ. Thus, I have focused much of my attention on composing for choral ensembles–with or without instruments- and I have enjoyed this work immensely.
— Frank Ferko

Reflection on Thomas Tallis’ If ye love me

This work was composed as a reflective commentary on the well-known motet by Thomas Tallis (1505-1585). In its graceful simplicity, the Tallis motet is an exquisite example of the clear and succinct style of English anthem that was common during the reign of Edward VI. The Tallis work is primarily homophonic with brief moments of imitative counterpoint. It follows a basic ABB structure with most of the counterpoint occurring in the “B” section, which is repeated.

My reflection on the Tallis work follows some of the same procedures used by Tallis, but in the present work updated forms of modality have been employed, and the lines have been blurred somewhat through the use of sustained tone clusters. Thus, the text is now heard through a 21st century aural prism. Once again, homophony predominates in the first section but with clusters rather than the traditional harmonies used by Tallis. At approximately the midpoint of the piece the texture is reduced to a very simple four-voice contrapuntal texture, more or less as a brief reference to Tallis’ style. The chorus then divides into two groups with one group continuing the counterpoint which has now expanded into a more active and complex style. The second group of voices returns to the homophonic style, but now in widely expanded harmonies, so that the motet concludes with homophony and counterpoint sounding simultaneously.

WORLD PREMIERE: 1st February 2017, Cutty Sark, Greenwich

ALBUM: Many are the Wonders