Gerald Near is considered one of the finest composers of church music writing today. He first studied theory and composition at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago with Leo Sowerby, and continued those studies with Leslie Bassett at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. While at the University of Michigan, he also studied organ with Robert Glasgow, published organ and choral music, and completed his Master’s degree in orchestral conducting while studying under Gustav Meier.
In 1982, he was one of the first recipients of a McKnight Foundation Fellowship. That year also saw two commissioned works for the American Guild of Organists (AGO) National Convention in Washington, D.C. The following year he moved to Dallas, where he was appointed organist/choirmaster of St. Matthew’s Cathedral, later becoming Canon Precentor.
In 1989, Gloriae Dei Cantores commissioned Mr. Near to compose a work for the choir, Resurrexi, based on Gregorian chant motifs. The choir premiered the work, performed it in concerts, and recorded it. It has been broadcast by the BBC and sung in Moscow’s Tchaikovsky Hall and in Leningrad’s Capella Hall.
At the 1998 Denver AGO National Convention, Mary Preston premiered his organ concerto. Pamela Decker premiered his Sonata Breve (Second Sonata), written for her, at the Tucson Chapter’s (AGO) Mid Winter Conclave in January of 2008. His works have been heard on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion, and his Magnificat & Nunc dimittis has been performed at the prestigious Southern Cathedrals Festival in England. The St. John’s College Choir sang his St. John’s Service at Sydney’s Opera House. The Tucson Alumnae Chapter of Sigma Alpha Iota (SAI) designated him a National Arts Associate in May of 2008.