Stephen Eros, Assistant Conductor
Stephen Eros graduated from Webster University with the degrees Master of Arts in Choral Conducting and Bachelor of Music in Organ Performance, and faculty bestowed honors in music. He studied conducting and choral music with Trent Patterson, organ with William Partridge, and voice with Robert Ayllón. As Assistant Conductor of the Webster University Choirs, he assisted in preparing works such as Britten’s Cantata Misericordium and Rejoice in the Lamb, Orff’s Carmina Burana, Schubert’s Magnificat (D 486), Bach’s Cantata No. 131, Duruflé’s Requiem, Mozart’s Regina Coeli (KV 276), and Copland’s In the Beginning.
This year marks his third season as Assistant Conductor of the Bach Society of St. Louis under his long-time musical role model, Dr. A. Dennis Sparger. This past summer was Stephen’s first season as a rehearsal and performance pianist at the Muny, St. Louis (Hairspray; Beauty and the Beast). An active church musician since 2008, Stephen has worked for parishes in the Diocese of Belleville, Springfield (IL), and Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Currently he serves as Director of Liturgy and Music at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church in O’Fallon, IL. He has been a member of the St. Louis Chapter of the American Guild of Organists since 2009 and has served as Sub Dean, Program Committee Chair, and a member of the Executive Committee. He is a member of the American Federation of Musicians Local 2-197, National Association of Pastoral Musicians, American Choral Directors Association, Chorus America, and the American Guild of Organists.
Stephen Mager, Composer in Residence
Stephen Mager composes in a variety of genres, with a special emphasis on music for the voice, particularly for chorus and orchestra. His works have been performed by such distinguished ensembles as the Cleveland Orchestra and Chorus; VocalEssence, Minnesota; and the Dallas Symphony Chorus.
His full-scale choral symphony, Sinfonia Pastorale, received its St. Louis premiere in 1997 with the Bach Society of Saint Louis, to critical praise: “The music does indeed have a painterly quality to it. The orchestration is complex and colorful, and the music is inclined to linger over beautiful images… [Mager] writes gratefully for the voice…” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
In 2004, he was appointed Composer-in-Residence for the Bach Society of Saint Louis, which has since commissioned and premiered several major choral works: The Lamb’s High Feast (2005), an Easter choral cycle on Gregorian chants; I saw eternity (2006), a choral fantasia on a Bach chorale, after Henry Vaughan; and in 2008, Missa lucis (“Mass of Light”), for chorus and chamber orchestra. One critic aptly described the Mass as “lushly lyrical” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
His Christmas carol settings have also received critical attention: “Mager’s settings… went well beyond mere arrangements; the Noël de la Vièrge had a simple dignity and deft orchestral touch that set it above the usual holiday fare” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch). A collection of his carols is featured on the compact disc, Joy for Every Age, recorded in 1998 with the Arcangeli Chamber Chorus. “These excellent carol settings…exhibit a slightly different kind of charm and sophistication that owes much to their more expansive…fully integrated orchestrations… Mager is conscious of mood and meaning and is very good at drawing listeners into the particular character of each carol” (David Vernier, Classicstoday.com).
His opera, Dream of the Pacific, was commissioned and premiered by Opera Theatre of Saint Louis for the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition (2004). It was subsequently produced by Opera Omaha (2005), Kansas City Lyric Opera (2005), and Washington National Opera (2006). “Mager excels at conveying a wide variety of feelings…all in a musical language that is both lyrical and comprehensible” (Washington Post).
An active choral and opera conductor, Mager completed his master’s degree at Indiana University, and later returned there for doctoral studies. His teachers have included Jan Harrington, Julius Herford, Thomas Binkley, Robert Shaw, Margaret Hillis, Robert Porco, Dale Warland, John Poole, and Carmen-Helena Tellèz. Stephen Mager is also an accomplished organist and pianist. His publishers include Oxford University Press and MorningStar Music.
Sandra Geary, Accompanist
Sandra Geary is a member of the piano faculty of the Community Music School of Webster University. A native of Ireland, Ms. Geary received piano performance diplomas from the Royal School of Music, Trinity College, London, England; the Cork School of Music, Ireland; and a bachelor’s degree in music from The Saint Louis Conservatory of Music. While a student at the conservatory, Ms. Geary studied with Joseph Kalichstein and Carole Tafoya. Currently, she is the accompanist for the Bach Society of Saint Louis and the Washington University Opera Department and Concert Choir. She accompanies many students in recitals and competitions, and serves as accompanist for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis on many occasions. In June 2006, Ms. Geary will serve as Vocal Coach/Accompanist for the Black Hills Summer Arts Institute in South Dakota.
Cynthia Johnson, Assistant Accompanist
Cynthia Johnson earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in piano from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville, where her main focus was chamber music. Ms. Johnson has worked extensively as a collaborative pianist and coach in the St. Louis metropolitan area for nearly 35 years, performing with student, church and professional singers, instrumentalists and choirs alike, while continuing to remain quite active as a choral singer herself. Before joining the Bach Society of Saint Louis, she served for 17 years as the accompanist for the Masterworks Chorale of Belleville. In addition to her role as assistant accompanist of the Bach Society, she performs regularly with the chorus as a principal soprano.