Jack Ergo joined the Graceland Music Faculty in 2001 and serves as associate professor of music at Graceland University. He serves multiple roles: conducting the Graceland University Symphony, Professor of Applied Piano, Organ Instructor, Piano Proficiency, and often teaches special topics courses. Ergo presents recitals as solo performer and as keyboard accompanist, and assists the Theatre Department as music director for their musical theatre productions. He also serves as faculty sponsor for the Graceland Jazz Combo Club and Chess Club.
Ergo has been surrounded by music his entire life. He began piano lessons at the age of four, and by the age of nine was regularly performing piano recitals, playing for church services and traveling to Michigan State University for piano study. At age 13, he performed Haydn’s Concerto in D with the Saginaw, Michigan, Symphony. As a high school student in Saginaw, Ergo participated in many musical ensembles as performer and conductor (many times with his parents who are symphony and chamber musicians), often conducting from the keyboard. He also served as choral and music director for his church.
After undergraduate study at Central Michigan University where Ergo performed many piano recitals, was assistant conductor of the Opera Workshop and played viola in the University Symphony, he transferred to the Peabody Conservatory of Music at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He specialized in early keyboard music and 20th century music – seemingly opposite ends of the spectrum. Ergo performed as harpsichord soloist with the Peabody Symphony in Elliott Carter’s Double Concerto. He repeated this and other works on the Johns Hopkins Concert Series and at the American Music Festival sponsored by the State Department in Washington, D.C. He was also the accompanist for the Maryland Ballet and performed the Franck Symphonic Variations at their New York debut.
From 1981 to 2001, Ergo was the music director for the international headquarters of the Community of Christ Church located in Independence, Missouri, home of The Independence Messiah Choir. He has taken the Choir to Great Britain, Wales, Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic. Ergo is co-editor of two hymnals: Sing for Peace and Sing A New Song – the two hymnal supplements for the Community of Christ Church.
Additionally, Ergo produced and directed the recordings for Sing A New Song and recorded a 5 CD set of the denomination’s main hymnal, Hymns of the Saints.
“The indefatigable Jack Ergo (Saints Herald Magazine – Australia) gives tremendous energy and passion to his artistic endeavors,” (“…he nurtures his groups with intense devotion,” Independence Examiner).
Ergo has a long history of community orchestra and arts organization. From 1989-2000, he led the renowned Kansas City Civic Orchestra through a decade of diverse programming. The Orchestra has been very active in Kansas City Metro Community events, from July 4th fireworks presentations to performing Mendelssohn’s Elijah at Beth Shalom Synagogue sponsored by Harmony in a World of Difference.
From 1981-2001, Ergo served as the music and artistic director of the Independence Symphony (now The Heritage Philharmonic), one of the Midwest’s oldest community orchestras. In 2006, he was named Conductor Laureate.
Ergo is the founder of the Eastern Jackson County Youth Orchestra, founder of the Independence Police Chorus, co-founder and co-conductor of the Harmony Choir of Kansas City, and co-founder and conductor of the Independence Mayor’s Christmas Concert events.
Handel’s Messiah is one of Ergo’s ‘signature’ works to conduct. From 1981-2001, he led distinguished Independence Messiah Choir of Independence, Missouri, in their annual performances – often performing the entire work without cuts. Members of the choir celebrated their 100th year in 2016 with a performance at the historic Stone Church in Independence, Missouri. Between 1936 and the 1990’s, the performances presented live and taped broadcasts over AM and FM radio stations in the United States, Canada and Australia. From 1991-2004, the performance was televised nationwide on the Public Broadcasting System and many local cable systems. Certainly a highlight was the Choir’s presentation in 2000 of New York City’s first complete Handel’s Messiah of the new millennium at Carnegie Hall to a sold out audience.
Fall of 2018, Ergo celebrated his 34th annual Kansas City Messiah sing-a-long at Grace & Holy Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Kansas City, Missouri.