Jennifer Hsiao

Jennifer Hsiao was recently appointed as Organist at Old West Church in Boston, MA, where she plays at weekly services.  She began her organ studies with Eric Plutz at Princeton University and continued them at the Yale School of Music with Chelsea Chen. She has continued her studies at Harvard with Christian Lane. She has played in recitals in the Boston area and has performed as a guest organist with the Bay Colony Brass. 

Jennifer is also a pianist and violinist.  She has won numerous competitions and has performed concerti as both a piano and violin soloist with numerous orchestras including the Princeton University Orchestra, Hartford Symphony, Farmington Valley Symphony Orchestra, Connecticut Youth Symphony, and Connecticut Virtuosi Chamber Orchestra. As a pianist she has studied with Margreet Francis, Jennifer Tao, Abbey Simon, and Peter Frankl. She began her violin studies with Teri Einfeldt, continuing with Brian Lewis and Dorothy DeLay. As an undergraduate at Princeton, she was the first violinist of the Princeton University String Quartet and concertmaster of the Princeton University Orchestra; there she studied with Anna Lim, Stephen Clapp at the Juilliard School, and Philip Setzer of the Emerson String Quartet. At the Yale School of Music, she studied with Ani Kavafian.

Jennifer holds an A.B. in Chemistry and certificates in Latin and Music Performance from Princeton University and a Masters of Music Performance (violin) from the Yale School of Muisc. She is now a PhD student in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Harvard University, where she also serves as concertmaster of the Dudley Orchestra and Resident Tutor in biology and music at Dunster House.

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I first met Chris at the Yale School of Music when I was doing my masters in violin performance there. He was my music history teaching fellow. I remember going to one of his degree recitals at Woolsey Hall and being amazed at his artistry on the organ. Little did I know that a couple years later, I would cross paths with Chris again at Harvard, where he was the organist at Memorial Church. I contacted him about taking organ lessons and he was so generous and patient with me, especially given that I was very busy with graduate school and only taking one or two lessons per semester. Even when I was only taking a few lessons here and there, Chris always included me in the organ community that he was building in Cambridge and Boston. He would always invite me to go to studio classes, go on organ crawls, go to organ recitals, and attend other studio events.

This past year, I became much more serious about playing the organ and I’ve had weekly lessons with Chris. I’ve learned so much from him. He is always so generous with his time and every time I have a recital, he takes time out of his busy schedule to help me with registering the organs. He has built an organ studio full of incredible people in Boston and has taken us on organ crawls to amazing and inspirational organs all over the northeast and even in Europe.

In hindsight, I’ve realized how incredibly fortunate I was to have connected with Chris again; I never dreamed that I would one day love playing the organ as much as I love playing the violin and piano, which have been my primary instruments since I was 5 years old. Organ was originally a “secondary” instrument that I took up out of curiosity much later on but it has since become just as important to me as my other instruments.

I went to graduate school for biology, but I feel as though I’m getting a partial conservatory experience in organ at the same time, and this is all because of Chris. In addition to being an amazing and inspiring performer himself, he is also an incredible teacher who can connect with organists of all levels, from beginners to professionals—a true testament to his pedagogical prowess. He is also just a wonderful human being who takes time to really get to know his students and is a joy to be around.
— Jennifer Hsiao