Devon Howard, an organist, is chair of the department of music and director of keyboard and theory studies at Southwestern Adventist University. He has been at SWAU since 2016, serving as chair since 2017.
Devon was born in Alamosa, Colorado, on April 1, 1981, the older of two sons of Larry and Paula Byerrum Howard. He began piano studies at age eight and organ at thirteen. Following graduation from Campion Academy in 1999, he attended Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, for his freshman year, studying organ off campus with Donald Sutherland at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore, Maryland.
In the middle of his sophomore year he transferred to Southern Adventist University, where he studied with Judith Glass until he completed a B.S. in organ perfromance in 2003. After graduation Devon served as an assistant to the choral department during a transitional period, conducting many ensembles. He also did substitute teaching in theory, history, and general music courses; conducted a concert choir specializing in Renaissance and Baroque music; and directed a department Christmas musical theatre production. Additionally, he cared for music at a nearby Catholic church and apprenticed as an organ builder for the Richards, Fowkes & Co. of Ooltewah, Tennessee, during the 2005-2006 school year.
Devon studied organ performance and technique as a Fulbright Scholar with Prof. Aart Bergwerff at Codarts Conservatorium in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, beginning in 2006, and then studied improvisation with Sietze de Vries on the historic organs of the Groningen province in the following year. During his time in Europe he served as organist in Reform and Scottish International churches and played and performed recitals on historic instruments.
In 2007 he began study with Kimberly Marshall at Arizona State University, completing a D.M.A. in 2012. He was a teaching assistant in his first three years at ASU and in his final two years served as a full-time Director of Worship and Music at a large two-campus Lutheran church in Mesa, maintained an active studio of piano and organ students, and played as the continuo organist for the Phoenix Symphony. His dissertation was titled Organ Improvisation in Context: Historical and Practical Influences on the Craft of Improvisation at the Organ. While in Phoenix, he also serviced and tuned several organs in the state.
Devon has served as a Director of Worship & Arts and organist at several churches, most recently at the Kettering Seventh-day Adventist Church in Kettering, Ohio, from January 2015 to the beginning of the 2016 academic year, when he began teaching art SWAU. He performs regularly throughout the United States and is a passionate advocate for improvisation education and performance.
While living in Arizona, he met and married Kimberly Raguso in 2012, a musically talented person who works with non-profit organizations. They have a daughter, Aurelia, who was born in 2016.
Sources, Biographical sketch at Southwestern Adventist University; Interview with Devon Howard, February 21, 2018.