Sarah Simko is a second year Doctoral student in Organ Performance at the University of Michigan. Ms. Simko studies with Professor James Kibbie. She is the Adjunct Faculty Instructor at Madonna University. She completed her Masters in Music with Professor Kola Owolabi, also at the University of Michigan. She received her Bachelors degree from the Eastman School of Music, with Professors Nathan Laube, Edoardo Bellotti, William Porter and Hans Davidsson.
Currently at the University of Michigan, Ms. Simko serves as a Research Assistant for a team headed by Dr. Kibbie and Dr. Daniel Forger from the Department of Mathematics. This collaborative project focuses on how the brain processes music, through detailed study of the Johann Sebastian Bach’s Six Sonatas (BWV 525-530). Recorded rehearsals and performances of the Sonatas are processed using big data analysis techniques. In conjunction with this work, Ms. Simko has given coaching sessions on these Sonatas. This project will conclude in Summer, 2019.
Ms. Simko is the recipient of a Graduate Award from the Presser Foundation, to be used to create a comprehensive set of recordings of organ music by living American female composers. The goal of this project is to expand the accessibility of a rich, and overlooked body of repertoire. A series of three CDs, titled "Living Voices," will be released in Fall 2019 and Winter 2020.
Ms. Simko is a member of both the Diapason magazine’s “Top 20 under 30,” Class of 2017; and the Oakland County Executive’s Elite 40 under 40, Class of 2018. She received First Prize in the Schoenstein Competition in the Art of Organ Accompaniment (2017), hosted by the University of Michigan, at First Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor.
Ms. Simko has held many positions in leading churches in the Detroit area. Previous positions include Choral Accompanist at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Ann Arbor; Interim Director of Music at University Presbyterian Church, Rochester Hills; and Senior Organ Scholar at Christ Church Cranbrook, Bloomfield Hills. She has also served Bethany Presbyterian Church, Greece, New York, as the organ scholar.
One of Ms. Simko’s most inspirational experiences was her membership, and later direction of, the Agape Singers. This high-school aged choir served University Presbyterian Church, and toured internationally. The group was founded with the mission to share God’s Love through singing with all they encountered. Ms. Simko participated in seven tours as a choir member, accompanist and assistant director. She had the privilege of directing the choir on her eighth tour through the state of Michigan. This tour expanded the original mission of the Agape Singers to include caring for God’s Creation.
Ms. Simko has given recitals at such notable venues as Methuen Memorial Music Hall, Methuen, Massachusetts; St. Paul’s Cathedral (Anglican), London, Ontario, Canada; Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian Church, Detroit; the Cathedral Church of St. Paul (Episcopal), Detroit; Hill Auditorium, Ann Arbor; among others. She has performed in masterclasses with Dr. Marilyn Mason, Dr. David Wagner, Ken Cowan, Bruce Neswick, Olivier Latry, Vincent Dubois, and Michel Bouvard.