Steven Ball occupies a rather unique place in the musical world of the organ. In addition to being a Fulbright Scholar, he is part of a small number of artists proficient in the genre of the theater organ ever to have achieved a doctoral degree in music, and the first to have ever done so with a degree in organ performance. Widely recognized for his scholarship both with classical improvisation as well as the art of silent film composition and accompaniment, he has traveled and performed extensively in both the United States and abroad including concerts in The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal, Ireland, England and Switzerland. Some important firsts include the world premiere of the first concerto for theater organ and orchestra ("Once Upon a Castle" 2003 by Michael Daugherty) and the first silent film accompanied by a carillon.
Originally from a small farm near Wright Michigan, Dr. Ball began playing the organ at a very young age. By the time he was 6, he was both studying piano and attempting to complete a single stop pipe organ which his father and he had begun engineering together in the basement of their family home. He began accompanying church services on a regular basis by the age of 9, and started formal organ studies not long after with Dr. John Hammersma of Calvin College. By the age of 16 he was accepted as an undergraduate in the studio of Dr. Marilyn Mason of the University of Michigan. His undergraduate studies in organ performance were followed by several years of study abroad which included work at l'Institute de Touraine in Tours (France), the University of Utrecht and Royal Dutch Carillon School of Amersfoort (The Netherlands) as well as the Royal Carillon School of Mechelen (Belgium). He was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship by the United States Government in 2002.
Effective, July 1 2013, Dr. Ball has accepted a new appointment as Organist and Director of Outreach for the world's largest pipe organ located at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ as well as Artist in Residence at the Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, PA.
Previous to this appointment, he was Senior Staff Organist at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor, University Carillonneur at the University of Michigan as well as a member of the Faculty of the Organ Department in addition to being Director of the Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. He was also Cathedral Organist at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit, an instrument recently featured as the subject of a premiere recording of the works of Steven Ball's predecessor in Detroit, René Becker.
You can learn more about Steven Ball and his work with The Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments by listening to a recent Michigan Radio broadcast located here or a recent alumni association movie here. There was also a recent associated press article which can be found here.
The recent restoration of the Charles Baird Carillon made national news and appeared across the nation on the "Big Ten" network as well as PBS stations. You can watch the episode here or another related story for LSA magazine here. Dr. Ball also recently made an appearance on the nationally syndicated ESPN-ABC network performing “The Victors", and is responsible for literally writing the dictionary definition of “bellringing” and its related entries for the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians.
The Ann Arbor Public Library recently interviewed Steven Ball about his life and work at the University of Michigan, The Michigan Theater, The Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament as well. You can find that podcast located here.