Stephen Paul Zork
Steve Zork, a singer, cellist, pianist, and composer, is Director of Choral Studies at Andrews University, a position he has held since 1991. In addition to his responsibilities with programming for the department of music’s four university choirs, he teaches classes in choral pedagogy, group vocal techniques, choral repertoire, and advanced choral conducting. He oversees the students in the graduate choral conducting degree in their responsibilities with the University Chorale. He also maintains an active schedule doing choral clinics and festivals throughout the United States and abroad.
Steve was born in Cape Town, South Africa, the son of Warren Ralph, a pastor, and Shirley Ann Davis Zork, a nurse, missionaries in that country, and spent his first eighteen years in Zimbabwe and Zambia. While in Africa, he studied theory and piano at the Royal Academy of Music at Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, from 1963 to 1968. He attended Atlantic Union College, where he served as senior class president and completed a B.Mus. in theory and composition in 1977.
He began his teaching career at Maplewood Academy in Minnesota in 1977. He subsequently taught at Auburn Adventist Academy in Auburn, Washington; Shenandoah Valley Academy in New Market, Virginia; and Walla Walla College, now University, before accepting his present position at AU. He completed an M.Mus. in choral conducting in 1988 at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington.
Under Zork's leadership, the Andrews University Singers perform major choral works with the AU Symphony Orchestra, Claudio Gonzalez, conductor. Recent collaborations have included Mendelssohn’s Elijah, the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, the Brahms A German Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, and Bach's Magnificat. In April 2014 they will present two performances of J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in the Howard Performing Arts Center.
During his tenure at AU Zork has conducted the AU Singers for the nationally televised ABC Christmas Special, in three vetted concert performances at conventions for the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), and on eight highly acclaimed international tours with concert itineraries in Great Britain, Iceland and Norway, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Chile, The Bahamas, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico. They have performed in concert with noted musical artists such as Bobby McFerrin, the King’s Singers, and jazz pianist David Benoit. Under his leadership the AU Singers have recorded seven digital CDs.
Every year Zork hosts two choral invitational concerts in the Howard Performing Arts Center for area high schools and community colleges and church choirs. From 2003 to 2008 he conducted the South Bend Symphonic Choir, resident choir at the University of Indiana, South Bend.
Other community choral activities have included conducting the Christian Arts Chorale in numerous concerts, including a production of the opera I am the Way, which featured Metropolitan Opera bass and composer Jerome Hines, and a presentation of Savior with the Ballet Magnificat. He is in his 21st year as Director of Music for the First Congregational Church in St. Joseph, Michigan.
Zork is an active baritone performer in both recitals and oratorios. During his time at AU, he has played the role of the Good Samaritan in Britten's Misericordium; Noah in Britten's Noye's Fludde; the psychiatrist in Menotti's final commissioned opera The Singing Child; and Phillip in Hines' I Am The Way, a role he played alongside the composer and metropolitan opera singer Hines, who played the role of Jesus.
Zork regards Horst Günter of the New England Conservatory and the late Margaret Harshaw of Indiana University, Bloomington, as his two most influential voice teachers. The three choral conductors who most inspired him, and with whom he has sung professionally, are Dale Warland, Gregg Smith, and the late Robert Shaw.
An active composer and arranger, his most recent composition, Anniversary Overture, was commissioned by AU's WAUS-FM for its 25th Anniversary and performed by the Southwest Michigan Symphony Orchestra and South Bend Symphony. Previous works include Piece for Trombone and Piano, Sonata for Oboe and Piano, and a tone poem for orchestra, Matopos. He has arranged music for numerous artists’ albums released by Chapel Records, including one for his wife, Susan (Pervier), an accomplished singer and song writer.
The Zorks married in 1976. They have four children, Nicholas, Benjamin, Timothy, and Jasmine, three of whom are active in music.
Zork received a Faculty Excellence Award at AU in the 2000-2001 school year.
Sources: Biography at the Andrews University music department website (2013); The Atlantic Union Gleaner, 20 December 1974, 5 and 28 December 1976, 8; International Adventist Musicians Association (IAMA) Notes, Spring 1997, 22; Jack Stenger, “University Singers Tour Scandinavia,” IAMA Notes, Autumn 1996, 17, 18; IAMA Notes 2001, 18; Walla Walla College music department newsletter, Opus , Summer 1989, and 1990; personal knowledge.