We are pleased to introduce Stella O’Neill, our organ scholar for the 2019-20 season. As our organ scholar, Stella is gaining experience in performing, accompanying, conducting, and assisting with music-related administrative tasks.
The idea of an organ scholar has a long history, particularly in England where many prominent church musicians, conductors, and professors served as organ scholars early in their careers. It has been an important way to foster and nurture talented students who will serve in sacred music. The cathedral’s collaboration with an educational institution benefits the scholar, and also benefits the cathedral in supporting the music ministry and the educational institution in attracting talented students.
About Stella O’Neill
Stella O’Neill, both pianist and organist, was surrounded by music from a young age. She trained as a dancer, sang in choir, as well as studied violin and piano. Being homeschooled, Stella had the privilege to have language lessons incorporating Bach’s cantatas and French folk songs. She often listened to Bach’s organ works in the background during her other studies. Stella developed a strong connection and love for Bach’s music and style through this early exposure. This encouraged her during undergraduate studies at the University of Minnesota in piano performance to seriously study the organ as well. Through Dr. Dean Billmeyer’s pedagogical structure, Stella successfully built a good foundation in organ technique and took her skills to the next level by completing her master’s in organ performance at the University of Florida. Here she studied with Dr. Laura Ellis, where she continued to develop her musicianship at the organ but also began studies in harpsichord.
After collaborating with a colleague in voice and putting on a continuo recital, Stella participated in an early music workshop in Cincinnati with Dr. Michael Unger. Her experience there led her decision to continue her education in doctoral studies with Dr. Unger at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) at the University of Cincinnati. Stella also served as associate organist at First Presbyterian Church in Gainesville, Florida, during her master’s degree. She furthered her sight-reading and accompanying skills during this position.
Stella is excited to continue to develop her skills and musicianship as an organ scholar at the Christ Church Cathedral alongside with her studies at CCM.