Posted on January 4, 2013 by Christopher Thrall

Professor Emeritus of music theory, history, composition, and conducting James Neff recently received word that one of his most beloved choral works was accepted for publication.

Submitted by Dr. Ardelle Ries, Associate Professor (Choral)

In 1959, the Camrose community was fortunate to attract a young and talented American musician in the guise of James Neff.

After 32 years of dedicated service at Camrose Lutheran College with retirement in 1993 from a long and distinguished career as a professor of music theory, history, composition, and conducting, Professor Emeritus James Neff has much reason to celebrate. A prolific composer of choral music, Neff recently received word from Cypress Choral Music in Vancouver, one of Canada’s foremost music publishing houses, that one of his most beloved choral works was accepted for publication.

As of November 2012, How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place was released for distribution to the Canadian choral community and beyond.

A beautiful and accessible choral work, How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place was composed 25 years ago for the dedication of Bethel Lutheran Church.

It was premiered at Bethel with a choir comprised of members of the congregation under the baton of Dr. Jonathan Mohr.

Of his published oeuvre, it is thought that How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place has been the most frequently performed.

It has been recorded by Dr. Marc Hafso and The Augustana Choir on the Standing on Holy Ground CD of 1997 and again by Dr. Ardelle Ries and The Augustana Choir on the Nuper Rosarum Flores: Now the Rose Blossoms CD from 2007. The recent Cypress Choral Music publication of How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place is James Neff’s 17th publication.

Published extensively in the USA, this is the first choral work of Neff to be published by a Canadian music publisher.

James Neff was born in 1934 in Illinois, where he completed his elementary and secondary schooling. He went on to receive a Bachelor of Music degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota in 1956. In the same year, he married the love of his life, Jo Ann. In 1958 he received a Masters of Arts degree from the University of Denver and pursued graduate studies later at the University of Iowa.

James taught three years of senior high school music in the U.S. before the family moved to Camrose.

Through numerous positive choral music experiences within the church community, Neff fell in love with choral music as an adolescent.

At the age of 20, James wrote his first composition, a song cycle for baritone and piano. His primary musical inspiration stems from Bach, Brahms, and Hindemith. Aside from his devotion to choral music, Neff has written music for solo piano, solo voice and piano, and string quartet.

Heartfelt congratulations are extended to James Neff for this wonderful achievement. Information about How Lovely Is Thy Dwelling Place can be found on the Cypress Choral Music website.


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