Stewart W. Foster
Organist in Residence
Stewart W. Foster is one of the nation’s most accomplished organists, winning numerous prizes and performing recitals on some of the world’s most prestigious pipe organs. In his role as Organist-in-Residence of First Congregational Church of Los Angeles, he continues to amaze audiences every week with his vast repertoire and artistry in playing one of the world’s largest pipe organs.
Mr. Foster’s musical studies trace back to his early teen years when he was under the tutelage of Robert Hebble in Palm Beach, FL, who was one of Virgil Fox’s closest musical partners. Mr. Foster then attended Interlochen Arts Academy on scholarship where he worked rigorously on piano technique and organ solo performance, culminating in a performance at Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. at age of 15.
Mr. Foster then entered undergraduate college in his native Florida where he completed a double major in French and Organ/Church Music. Upon graduation he was awarded a scholarship to study organ in Paris, France, with Suzanne Chaisemartin, herself a protégé of the great Marcel Dupré. During these years in Paris, Mr. Foster broadened his horizons by working in a French organ-building firm which allowed him to study close up the great cathedral organs of France. As the Organ Scholar of the American Cathedral in Paris, he perfected his skills as a choral accompanist on the organ. He returned to the U.S. after five years of incredible artistic experiences in Paris.
Mr. Foster then completed an advanced degree in Early Music and Harpsichord Performance, which rounded out his knowledge in different musical styles from Renaissance to Modern music. During his last year of study for this degree, Mr. Foster achieved the greatest milestone of his career when in 1997 he won both the Gold Medal and the Audience Prize at the First Triennial Dallas International Organ Competition. This competition included the top organists from the entire globe, and was judged by Marie-Claire Alain, Gillian Weir, Martin Haselbock and Mary Preston, among others. The cash award of $30,000 allowed him to buy his own custom-built practice pipe organ.
For ten years following this prize, Mr. Foster toured both the U.S. and Europe playing organ and harpsichord performances to great critical acclaim. In late 2005, Mr. Foster was invited to apply for the position of Organist-in-Residence of the First Congregational Church of Los Angeles. After a week of strenuous auditions and interviews, Mr. Foster was offered the position, winning out over applicants from around the globe. Since then he has worked diligently to increase the stature and scope of organ events at First Church, and constantly strives to push his own playing to new heights as he plays one of the world’s greatest pipe organs on a regular basis.