The American composer and organist, John Karl Hirten, earned his Bachelor and Master of Music degrees in organ performance under Paul-Martin Maki, Eugenia Earle and Frederick Swann at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. He also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Classical Languages at Fordham University in New York.
John Karl Hirten has been involved in church music for over twenty years, and his experience ranges from several different religious traditions. He has served as Apprentice in Church Music at Trinity Church on Wall Street under Larry King. He also served as Director of Music for the Fordham University Chapel and as Organist for St. James Cathedral in Brooklyn. After moving to the Bay Area in 1989, he served as Director of Music at Old Saint Mary's Cathedral in San Francisco, as well as Congregation Beth Israel Judea (as organist). He has also served as Adjunct Professor of Organ at the Dixon School of Church Music, Golden Gate Baptist Seminary in Mill Valley, CA. He is currently the Director of Parish Music at St. Stephen's Church in Belvedere.
In addition to his church music career, he has performed extensively on the organ throughout the USA, as well as in Germany and Austria. He has also served as soloist and accompanist in various secular forums, including accompanying his wife, Alexandra Ivanoff, in the film Prizzi's Honor. Both performing skills and his broad academic background fuse together successfully in the making of his musical personality. Notable performances include: Noontime Concerts, Music at St. Mary's Cathedral; First Saturdays at St. John the Evangelist; Second Sundays at St. Mark's Episcopal in Berkeley; Special concerts at First Presbyterian Church in Oakland; Oakland Ballet; California Palace of the Legion of Honor; American Bach Soloists, San Francisco, CA; Grace Cathedral Organ Concerts; Oakland East Bay Symphony; Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, NYC; "Noonday Concerts",Trinity Church Wall Street; Bronx Arts Ensemble, Bronx, NY; National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington D.C.; St. Mary's Cathedral, Covington, KY; Grazer Dom, Austria; "Paderborner Orgelsomer", Abdinghof Kirche, Paderborn Germany.
As a composer, John Karl Hirten's music is published by GIA, Augsburg, Morning Star, World Library Publications, Trinitas and Concordia. He recently finished a commission for Millenia Consort, a San Diego-based performing group, consisting of four short pieces for brass quintet, organ and percussion based on traditional Irish melodies. The piece is called Ceathair, which is Gaelic for the number "four." It was premiered in concert in February. His Little Organ Mass on Lutheran Chorales is now in print, published by Concordia (sound clips available on this website). His commissioned piece for the Salt Lake City Convention of the American Guild of Organists, Play on Royal Oak, has been published in a collection by Jackman Press.