Robert M. Cundick

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Robert M. Cundick, March 2010

Robert Milton Cundick Sr. (born 1926) is a Latter-day Saint composer. He also served for many years as an organist at the Mormon Tabernacle. This included accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and playing organ solos on the weekly broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word.

Early life[edit]

Cundick was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, in 1926. He spent his childhood in Sandy, Utah. His parents, Milton and Florence Pierson Cundick, were both faithful and devoted members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the standards of the Church were a major influence on his life. His interest in music began early in life as he played in bands and orchestras, as well as served as the organist for weekly church services (by age 12 he had become organist for his congregation). As his organ skills progressed, he was privileged to become the student of Mormon Tabernacle Organist Alexander Schreiner.

Young Adulthood[edit]

After serving in the United States Merchant Marine during World War II, Cundick immediately enrolled at the University of Utah. Despite the fact that his Merchant Marine service was not covered by the G.I. Bill of Rights, Cundick worked hard to pay for his education, and received his BFA, MFA and eventual PhD in Music Composition from the University. He was privileged to study under the tutelage of internationally famous composer Leroy J. Robertson.

It was during his time as a university student that Cundick married his wife, Charlotte (Cholly) Clark. Clark was an organ student of Cundick’s. The couple made their home in Salt Lake City, where Cundick was able to continue his university studies.

Life Experiences[edit]

Cundick joined the music faculty at BYU in 1957.

In 1962, LDS Church President David O. McKay called Cundick and his family (including five children ages 5–11) to go to London, England, to serve as the organist at the new Hyde Park Chapel. While in England, Cundick appeared in concert at St. Paul’s Cathedral and King’s College, Cambridge, in addition to his daily recitals at Hyde Park Chapel and a BBC broadcast.

After completing this two-year mission, Cundick and his family returned to Provo, Utah, where he resumed his teaching and compositional activity at BYU. This was interrupted when Cundick was called to serve as an organist at the Mormon Tabernacle, located on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah. He served for twenty-seven years.

Following his retirement in 1991, Cundick and his wife were called to serve as Directors of Hosting at the BYU Jerusalem Center in Jerusalem, Israel.

Since his retirement as Tabernacle Organist, Cundick has sought to publicize serious works of Utah and Mormon composers. In 2004 he won the Life Time achievement Pearl Award. Cundick continues to devote much of his time to composition and other music related activities, always making time to serve those around him. In 2007 he released a CD containing compositions from over 50 years of his creativity.

Compositions[edit]

The current English LDS hymnal has two hymns with music by Cundick: hymn number 198 "That Easter Morn" (words by Marion D. Hanks) and hymn number 279 "Thy Holy Word" (words by Marvin K. Gardner). Cundick has written many vocal works, such as the cantata The Song of Nephi, as well as The Redeemer (widely viewed has his most significant work), an oratorio with the text selected by Brigham Young University professor Ralph Woodward.[1] Cundick also provided music for the 2004 film Woman, The Pioneer, and he composed the music for The Brothers, a musical play based on the life of Karl G. Maeser, with text by Keith Engar.[2] Most recently, Cundick composed the music to God's Everlasting Love, [3] an oratorio with text by David A. Bednar, performed in the fall of 2009 by the BYU-Idaho choirs and orchestras.[4]

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