Bio

Jeffrey Brillhart, Director of Music and Fine Arts at Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church, has served in that capacity since 1983.  As Director, he provides artistic leadership for a rich program of concerts, directs adult and youth choir programs focussing on both the educational and aesthetic elements inherent in these endeavors.  During his tenure at BMPC, Brillhart has broadened the scope of musical offerings to the public, bringing noteworthy organists to perform and featuring the late Dave Brubeck and his quartet on several occasions.  He has initiated an organ scholar program, providing opportunities for aspiring young organists to both perform and conduct choral groups.  In 2005 Brillhart joined the organ faculty of Yale University, teaching organ improvisation. Recognized globally for his own organ improvisation as well as performance, choral conducting and teaching, Brillhart recently published a a book, Breaking Free, which approaches organ improvisation from a 20th century French perspective, with special emphasis on the influence of Olivier Messiaen's harmonic language.  In 1994 he won the American Guild of Organists International Organ Improvisation Competition by unanimous consent of the judges.  He has presented master classes at the Curtis Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, Westminster Choir College, the University of Iowa, Drake University, Furman University, the University of Alabama, Walla Walla College, and for numerous chapter events for The American Guild of Organists.

Jeffrey Brillhart, in his role as director of Philadelphia's Singing City Choir since 1999, provides not only artistic leadership for a variety of programs but also educational instruction in local schools and outreach to neighboring communities.  During his tenure with Singing City, the choir has traveled to Cuba, Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, Brazil, the Balkans. and South Africa.  Locally it has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, Black Pearl Orchestra, Symphony in C, Kronos Quartet and The Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, and with individual luminaries such as Dave Brubeck, Helmuth Rilling, and Rossen Milanov.

Music filled Brillhart's home in a small Iowa farming town;  parents and grandparents were musical and young Jeffrey was destined to study the piano.  As he entered his teens, he was captivated by repertoire presented by a new teacher, Audrey Williams, and thus his career at the keyboard was determined.  Along the way he taught himself to play a small Moller Artiste organ and became the local church's organist while in middle school.  He made his TV debut at the same time, performing Chopin's Revolutionary Etude on Bill Reilly's "Talent Scout" program on a piano whose locking wheels were unlocked, causing the piano to slowly move away from him until, at the end, he was on his feet and advancing to reach the keyboard.  An auspicious debut indeed!

Mr. Brillhart's formal training was at Drake University, where he received his Bachelor of Church Music degree, and at the Eastman School of Music, where he received a Master of Performance and Literature degree. Prior to and during this time his organ study was with Frank B. Jordan, Carl Staplin, Arthur Poister and Russell Saunders. A pianist, harpsichordist, conductor and singer as well, he studied with Barbara Lister-Sink, Lenora McCroskey and Margaret Hauptmann. While at Eastman, Mr. Brillhart was pianist for the studios of Jan DeGaetani, John Maloy, Thomas Paul and Peter Salaf.

"...that Brillhart was the winner was unquestionable..."

The American Organist