Ferris, William (Edward)

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Ferris, William (Edward)

Ferris, William (Edward), American composer, choral conductor, and organist; b. Chicago, Feb. 26, 1937; d. there of a heart attack while rehearsing Verdi’s Requiem, May 16, 2000. He studied composition with Alexander Tcherepnin at the De Paul Univ. School of Music (1955–60) and privately with Leo Sowerby (1957–62) in Chicago. In 1960 he founded the William Ferris Chorale, specializing in the works of 20th century composers and often bringing them to Chicago for festival concerts of their music. He served as organist of Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago (1954–58; 1962–64), and as director of music at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Rochester, N.Y., for Bishop Fulton J. Sheen (1966–71). From 1973 to 1983 he was on the faculty of the American Cons, of Music in Chicago, and thereafter served as composer-in-residence and director of music at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Chicago. In 1992 North-western Univ. established the William Ferris Archive, which contains his musical compositions, preliminary sketches, correspondence, and memorabilia.


DRAMATIC Little Moon of Alban, opera (1974); The Diva, opera (1979; Chicago, June 13, 1987; rev. version, Evanston, I11., June 5, 1998); Angels, miracle play (Chicago, June 5, 1998). ORCH.: October-November, symphonic movement (1962; Rochester, N.Y., Nov. 6, 1968); Concert-Piece for Organ and Strings (1963; Worcester, Mass., Nov. 19, 1967); Acclamations for Organ and Orch. (1981–82; Chicago, Jan. 27, 1983). CHAMBER: Flute Sonata (1983; Chicago, May 13, 1984); Parables for Harp (Rome, May 29, 1988). KEYBOARD: Piano : Sonata (Washington, D.C., April 5, 1976). VOCAL: De profundis (N.Y., Nov. 22, 1964); Ed e subito sera for Tenor and Strings (1965; Chicago, March 10, 1989); Make We Jay, cantata (Chicago, Dec. 12, 1976); A Song of Light, cantata (Chicago, Oct. 11, 1977); Snowcarols, cantata (Chicago, Dec. 7, 1980); Beat! Beat! Drums (Chicago, May 5, 1984); 3 Spirituals for Tenor, Harp, and Double Bass (Geneva, July 8, 1990); Gloria for Soloists, Chorus, and Orch. (Chicago, May 15, 1992); Corridors of Light for Baritone, Oboe, Strings, and Percussion (1994; Chicago, May 19, 1995); liturgical works; numerous works for chorus and organ; a cappella choruses; songs.

—Nicolas Slonimsky/Laura Kuhn/Dennis McIntire