Frank Pooler

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Frank Pooler conducting, 1970s

Frank Mairich Pooler (March 29, 1926 – January 19, 2013) was an American choirmaster, and former Director of Choral Studies at California State University, Long Beach.

Professional career[edit]

Known in both academic and professional music circles for his mastery of contemporary choral repertoire, Pooler has served as a guest conductor, clinician, lecturer and adjudicator throughout the continental United States, Canada, Europe, Scandinavia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Hawaii, and Alaska. His published compositions, arrangements and editions, which are over 500 in number, have been widely performed in Europe and North America. Articles by Frank Pooler in the area of choral art have been published in major professional journals, and he has served as a member of the Editorial Board of the "Choral Journal."

  • 1943 While still a high school student, founded and directed the first children's choir at First (Norwegian) Lutheran Church.
  • 1953 Studied and worked with Scandinavian composers in Norway, Sweden and Denmark resulting in the English publication of more than 100 Scandinavian choral works.
  • 1954-1957 Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church, Albert Lea, MN.
  • 1955 Fellow of the American-Scandinavian Foundation.[1]

•1959 – 1988 Established and lead Dept. of Choral Music Cal State Long Beach

In the mid-1970s, he also taught summer school in Saratoga Springs, New York, at Skidmore College. He gave graduate level classes as part of the State University of New York (Potsdam) "Saratoga Potsdam Choral Institute" (SPCI), directed by Brock MacElheran.

Recipient of the Sunni Award (Australia's Grammy) for production on the album, "SCAT!"

  • 2006 Honoree Award recipient at the American Choral Director Association Western Division convention in Salt Lake City, Utah.

He is co-author of three books, "The New Choral Notation, " "Sound and Symbol," and "Choralography - an Experience in Sound and Movement. " The "Frank Pooler Editions," and the "Frank Pooler Library of Significant Works," feature works by leading composers of the United States, Australia, Scandinavia, and Argentina.

Personal life[edit]

Frank Pooler was born and raised in Onalaska, Wisconsin.[2]

[3] He attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, and earned a bachelor's degree there. While there, he acquired a love for choral music while singing under Olaf Christiansen, son of the noted choral director, F. Melius Christiansen. He worked for a year after that as the music director at the First Baptist Church in Albert Lea, Minnesota, before going to the University of Iowa, where he earned a master's degree. From there, he worked for several years at Shimer College,[4] then in Mount Carroll, Illinois. He often said that those years at Shimer were among the happiest and most productive of his life. From there, he went to a brief stint at New Trier High School in Chicago. It was there, in the middle of winter 1959, that he received a phone call from a former University of Iowa colleague, asking if he wanted to come to California to work at Long Beach State University. Frank's answer was "what's the temperature there?" He would go on to teach at CSULB for 28 years, before retiring in 1988. He earned the St. Olaf Medal from the King of Norway in 1984 for distinguished contributions to Norwegian music in the United States.


The Frank Pooler Collection. (Music) The Frank Pooler Collection contains the published, written/composed, arranged, edited, and instigated work of Frank Pooler. Included are several hundred choral octavos printed singly (S), or in collections (C). The collection also contains articles and other journalistic items by or about the Poolers published in magazines, newspapers, and brochures.

Collaboration with The Carpenters[edit]

Frank Pooler with Karen and Richard Carpenter

Richard Carpenter accompanied Pooler's University Choir at California State University, Long Beach. Several years later, Karen Carpenter also joined the choir and recorded "Goodnight," "Crescent Noon," and "And When I Die" with the choir in 1969. Karen's parents hired Frank to give Karen music lessons[5]

Richard Carpenter later composed the music to "Merry Christmas Darling," a lyric Pooler had written when he was 18. Karen later said,

"'Merry Christmas Darling' I think, is a little extra special to both of us, because Richard wrote it, and the lyrics were written by the choral director at Long Beach State choir, where we went to school, Frank Pooler. Frank was very helpful in our college days, when we were trying to get a contract and constantly missing classes and everything. He was the only one down there who actually understood what we were after, and he stood behind us all the way. We just did a benefit at Long Beach state, for a scholarship fund, and we did it with the choir and the whole thing, and we did "Christmas Darling" and he just "glows" every time we do it….. I think it's my favorite, because it's really close to me."[6]

Pooler died January 19, 2013 from lung cancer at his home in Los Alamitos, California.[7]


  • Pooler, Frank (1971). New Choral Notation. Chapel Hill: Walton Music Corp.
  • Pooler, Frank (1975). Choralography: an Experience in Sound and Movement. Chapel Hill: Walton Music Corp.


  1. ^ Randy Erickson. "Singing Pooler’s praises: Choral music giant gets hometown honor." Onalaska Holman Courier Life September 20, 2007
  2. ^ 'Frank Pooler makes big waves in world of choral music,' La Crosse Tribune, Randy Erickson, January 24, 2013
  3. ^ Christine Mai-Duc. "Choral director mentored Carpenters". Los Angeles Times, January 26, 2013. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  4. ^ E. George Thiem, ed. (1968). "First Baptist Church - Mt. Carroll, Highlights of 100 Years, 1853 to 1953". Carroll County: A Goodly Heritage.
  5. ^ Close To You: The Story of The Carpenters (2002 BBC Documentary)
  6. ^ Carpenter, Karen. KIQQ, Los Angeles, California. Interview, 24 December 1978.
  7. ^ Randy Erickson (January 22, 2013). "Cancer claims choral music giant with local roots". La Crosse Tribune. Retrieved November 27, 2017.

External links[edit]