Musik aus dem Herzen Europas
Skeels, Wilbur

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  • Born in New Zealand in 1938, Wilbur Skeels received his Master of Arts degree in English literature and language, with First Class Honours (summa cum laude) from the University of New Zealand in 1959, and came to the United States as a post-graduate Fulbright Exchange student to study theology. He was ordained in 1963. He holds the Diploma of the Trinity College of Music, London, in Pianoforte. He studied piano with Paul Magill (concert pianist with the New Zealand Symphony) and Maria Schramm (concert pianist student of Artur Schnabel). A church organist at the age of 12, he studied organ with English cathedral organist Ian Jamieson, composition with Douglas Lilburn, and choral conducting with James Vail at USC, and with numerous other leading choral directors. He has served as a Director of the Choral Conductors Guild of Southern California. In the specialized field of concert accompaniment, his early idol was Gerald Moore.

  • A Thousand Oaks (California) resident since 1974, he has performed with the Los Robles Master Chorale since 1980 as singer, assistant director and accompanist. See recent photo. He has accompanied the Chorale on four European tours as pianist and organist, and his choral compositions include a number of works for them. Concert tours have taken him to eight countries. His concert performance credits include the organs of Coventry Cathedral, St. Martin-in-the-Fields (London), The Duomo (Florence), Basilica Sta. Maria Maggiore (Rome), The Basilica of St. Mark (Venice), Salzburg Cathedral (Dom), St. Mark's Cathedral (Wellington, New Zealand), Wellington Town Hall (New Zealand), St. Patrick's Cathedral (New York City), Dvorak Hall (Prague), St. Jacob's Church (Opatija, Croatia), St. Nikolai Church (Leipzig, Germany), Strasbourg Cathedral, Chartres Cathedral, and Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris), along with numerous appearances at the piano. He was the founding director of the Amadeus Boys Choir of Southern California, and has been a guest conductor and clinician on numerous occasions.
  • In February, 2004, he retired after 40 years of parish ministry as an ordained Baptist pastor, having served one church in New Zealand and four churches in Southern California. He holds the professional Doctor of Ministry degree in community mental health and religion. In addition to his regular parish duties, he worked with soloists, and directed choral, instrumental and handbell choirs. He considers keyboard accompanying to be one of the most challenging and satisfying of the musical arts, and an expression of personal worship to God.
  • He is the owner and publisher of Cantus Quercus Press. A skilled linguist, Dr. Skeels has created poetic and singable translations from numerous languages for more than 100 choral works (see a complete list), and has written many of his own lyrics (see bibliography).
  • He has been the founding president of the Morongo Valley Mental Health Association, Hospice of the Conejo, and the Ojai Valley Family Shelter for the homeless.

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