Music at Vasa
A native of Longview, Texas, Austin Ferguson played the Kniker Carillon at the University of Texas at Austin from 2011 to 2015, performing half-hour concerts seven times per week and teaching carillon lessons to graduate and undergraduate students. He graduated from UT in the spring of 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Theory, a minor in government, and certificates in European Studies and Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies.
After finishing his undergraduate program, Mr. Ferguson attended the Chicago-Kent College of Law, where he studied child and family law and served two years as a scholar for Oyez, the world’s largest multimedia archive dedicated to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Mr. Ferguson has been a featured recitalist around the country and is an active member of the Guild of Carillonneurs in North America, where he is Co-Editor of “Carillon News,” the Guild’s newsletter, and sits on the Legal and Membership Roster committees.
Recognized as a skillful recital programmer and arranger, his music can be heard performed at institutions across the United States.
He was named the fourth Carillonneur of Mayo Clinic in February 2017, where he plays eight weekly concerts on the 1928 Rochester Carillon, the only instrument of its kind in North America owned by a medical center.
In addition to his work at Mayo Clinic, Mr. Ferguson serves as the organist at historic Vasa Lutheran Church in Welch, Minnesota, and as a piano and voice teacher at the Rochester Academy of Music.
Growing up in the Episcopal Church, Vasa organist Austin Ferguson was instilled with a love of church music at an early age. A lover of “good, old-fashioned hymns,” Ferguson works closely with Pastor Maureen to ensure that the musical choices for every service—not just those for special occasions—are the best they can be.
In his own words, Ferguson’s views on music in church services are that “music doesn’t need to be complicated or showy; it must be accessible to each and every person in the congregation. From the first sounds of the prelude to the concluding chord of a postlude, every note must enhance the worship experience of the congregation and serve as a method for the individual to be brought closer to the message contained in the sermon.”
Vasa is blessed with wonderful instruments to aid in worship services. The organ, Opus 11,294 of rebound organ builder M.P. Möller, is a 19-rank instrument. It contains 994 pipes and a 20-note set of chimes. Considered a “large small instrument,” the organ is well-voiced for the room it sits in and can play many different types of music due to its varied types of pipes. The grand piano in the sanctuary, a gift to the congregation from the families of longtime Vasa members, is a fine instrument and is often used for more contemporary pieces.
Ferguson’s goals for Vasa’s music program include the establishment of an adult choir and a handbell ensemble to make use of Vasa’s two-octave set of handbells. Demonstrations of the organ can be arranged after Sunday church services by asking Austin or Pastor Maureen.