Steven Lawson

Categories: DCA Winners

World-renowned organist and choral director Wilma Jensen shares a lifetime of music as an engaging instructor

Wilma Jensen has been heralded as an outstanding recitalist, church musician and teacher. She has been named Distinguished Artist of 2016 by the National American Guild of Organists and will be recognized on April 8, 2016, with a recital at West End United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, followed by a gala reception at The University Club at Vanderbilt University. An extensive career as a concert organist has taken WILMA JENSEN throughout the United States to play on such well-known instruments as those at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, The Riverside Church in New York City, and the West Point United States Military Academy. Having played for several Regional Conventions and three National Conventions of the American Guild of Organists, she is in demand as a recitalist, lecturer and clinician for choral workshops, church music workshops and organ master classes. Numerous European tours have taken her to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, West Germany, France, Poland, The Netherlands and England. In addition, she has made a recording for West German Broadcasting, Sender Freis Berlin.

Dr. Jensen earned her Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where she was a student of Catharine Crozier and Harold Gleason. During that time she received the highly coveted Performer’s Certificate in Organ. The artist received an Honorary Doctorate from Piedmont College in May 2004. Recognized as a successful teacher, Wilma Jensen has been on the faculties of Oklahoma City University, the Blair School of Music of Vanderbilt University, Scarritt Graduate School, and Indiana University, where she was a tenured professor.

With a long, active musical career, Dr. Wilma Jensen has always had a focus in three directions—Church Music, Teaching and Performance. Now Choirmaster/Organist Emerita of St. George’s Episcopal Church, she was for 19 years Choirmaster/Organist, building the choir to a musical level which included an invitation to sing for the National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) and an extended tour in Europe. On that tour, Dr. Jensen conducted St. George’s Choir in their singing of the Sunday morning Mass at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris. The Mass featured the Vierne Messe Solennelle, which was written for choir and two organs for Notre Dame Cathedral. Before the service, the choir sang an extended group of a cappella repertoire. In June 2005 Wilma Jensen returned again to play her third concert at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris.

Dr. Jensen has made two professional solo recordings; Mors et Resurrectio (Arkay label) and Sketches and Improvisations (Pro Organo label), which is in the French Tradition. Both recordings were made on the Casavant Organ at St. George’s Church. She also made two recordings conducting St George’s Choir on the Pro Organo label. In March of 2017 she released a new CD, Organ Plus with WJ, which includes the Hanson Concerto conducted by Philip Brunelle and recordings with other instrumentalists, vocal soloists and choirs. Wilma Jensen has recently resumed her concert career, conducting Choral and Organ workshops and Organ Masterclasses at Juilliard, Curtis, etc. and as a resenter at the 2010 EROI Conference at Eastman School of Music. These trips have included recitals at The Riverside Church, NY City; First Congregational Church, Los Angeles,CA ; Jacksonville, FL; Oklahoma City, OK; St. Philip’s Cathedral, Atlanta; St. Paul’s Cathedral, St. Paul, MN; and Broadway Baptist Church, Ft. Worth, TX. Wilma Jensen was Dean of the Nashville Chapter of the American Guild of Organists for 2006-2007.

Dr. Jensen has released a 2-DVD set teaching video entitled ORGANIZING NOTES IN SPACE—Developing Organ Technique and Musicality. She explains the development of various touches and teaches seven of her former students.

Dr. Jensen, has focused her lifelong career on not only improving her own keyboard techniques but on sharing her unique insights with others. In 2023, she published Organ Footnotes: Touches, Rubato, Finesse, a book and series of free streaming videos which offer the lessons of a lifetime playing the organ.