Frances Conover FitchMinister of Music
Frances Conover Fitch has served primarily Episcopal congregations for nearly half a century - since her undergraduate days in New York State. As a church musician, she has led many avocational musical activities - adult and children’s choirs, handbell players, musical productions, fund-raisers - in Gloucester, Newburyport, Boston, Topsfield, and Swampscott, and has been Artistic Director of a concert series in most of these parishes. At St. John’s in Gloucester, MA, she facilitated the installation of a new pipe organ - C.B. Fisk Opus 97. She was on the faculty for the Presiding Bishop’s Leadership Program for Musicians Serving Small Parishes, and served on the Diocesan Music and Liturgy Committee at the time of the ordination of the first woman bishop in the Anglican Communion, the Right Reverend Barbara C. Harris.
Frances first studied organ and harpsichord while at Bard College; later she completed organ studies at the New England Conservatory of Music before going to Holland to further her harpsichord studies with Gustav Leonhardt. Fitch spent much of the late '70s and early '80s in Europe, where she taught at the Schola Cantorum Basilensis and co-founded the early music ensemble Concerto Castello. A recording by Concerto Castello earned Fitch an honorable mention at the Deutsche Schallplattenpreis competition held in Berlin in 1983. Returning to the United States, Frances began an active free-lance career, playing with early music groups such as the Boston Camerata and the Harvard-Radcliffe Collegium Musicum, and participating in major music festivals, such as Aston Magna and Tanglewood. Although these days she is most often heard in concert as a soloist, Fitch is noted for her sensitivity and intuitive strengths as a continuo player, and outside of her many recordings with Boston Camerata for Erato and Nonesuch, she has recorded for Wildboar, Titanic, Koch, EMI Reflexe, and Centaur, in addition to making many radio recordings while in Europe. She has published several encyclopedia articles and a workbook for keyboard players.
As a teacher, Fitch instructed graduate students at her alma mater, the New England Conservatory of Music, for most of the 1990s. She served as chair of the Early Music Department at the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, MA, where she taught, served on many committees and performed for nearly three decades. In addition to several workshops, she now teaches at Tufts and Brandeis Universities, and New England Conservatory, and has a private studio. In 2012, she had the honor to spend a semester as Guest Professor at Ferris University in Yokohama, Japan - originally a seminary founded by an American missionary. Frances is also a Licensed teacher of the course What Every Musician Needs to Know About the Body.