MPH Alumnus, International Concert Organist Jonathan Embry ’10 to Perform in Syracuse

Most Holy Rosary Church announces a free concert, open to the public: Organ Convert – On the Casavant Pipe Organ, on Saturday, January 26 at 6:30 p.m. Performing will be International Concert Organist Jonathan Embry, a 2010 graduate of Manlius Pebble Hill School. The church is located at 111 Roberts Ave, Syracuse, NY 13207.

Below is a feature on Embry from our 2016 edition of Reflections Magazine:

Jonathan Embry grew up in Maine, and attended a church that had daily mass. There was an organ in the church and he was always fascinated by it. While attending the annual Christmas program at Portland City Hall as a young child, he was invited to stand on stage next to the organ. “I felt the sound and vibrations of the powerful instrument move through my body, and it was at that moment I fell in love with the organ,” remarked Embry.

Jonathan grew up playing trombone, and didn’t start playing organ until he was 16 years old. He planned to study marine biology in college, but while enrolled at MPH, his focus shifted. He began playing the piano and organ more seriously and used his free periods to go across the street to the Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church to practice on the organ there. “Having that kind of freedom and time to practice an art form that I love so much was truly a unique benefit of being enrolled at MPH.”

There were several MPH faculty members who Embry says played a role in his success. Mr. Colombo (former band instructor) had a jazz group that he was a part of called the Young Lions. Mr. Colombo encouraged Embry’s improvisational skills on the trombone, and he also helped him find a practice organ for home. Madame Cadin encouraged Embry to play French folk songs and carols on the organ, even bringing her class to Pebble Hill Presbyterian Church to sing while Embry played organ at the holidays. His music theory teacher Mrs. Gregory was very encouraging of his composing. For his Senior Thesis Project, he wrote a piece to be sung at Baccalaureate. It was the very first piece he premiered.

For being so early into his career, Embry has quite an impressive resume. He’s served as the organist at Grace Episcopal Church in Syracuse and as music director of Saints Peter and John Episcopal Church in Auburn, NY. He has also substituted in churches of several denominations. While enrolled in graduate school at Notre Dame, he was a graduate assistant for the Liturgical Choir, played the organ for Masses in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and interned as organist at a South Bend Church. He has already received accolades for his work, including two Arthur Poister awards from Syracuse University and the Rev. Michael Driscoll award in Sacred Music from Notre Dame. Just a few months ago, one of Embry’s compositions was premiered in Russia and he already has plans to return in 2017.

With these accomplishments under his belt, he now has even bigger things planned: he’s pursuing a Doctorate of Music Performance at McGill University.