1992 Swan Award Winner: Frank Pooler


pooler2Known in both academic and professional music circles for his mastery of contemporary choral repertoire, Frank Pooler 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. 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.

Frank Pooler was born and raised in Onalaska, Wisconsin. 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 Masters Degree. From there, he worked for several years at Shimer College, 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 California State University, Long Beach. 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. He was also a recipient of the Sunni Award (Australia’s Grammy) for production on the album, “SCAT!” 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.

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 or in collections. The collection also contains articles and other journalistic items by or about the Poolers published in magazines, newspapers, and brochures.

  • 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.
  • 1959–1988 – Established and led the Department of Choral Music at California State University, Long Beach
  • 2006 – Honoree Award recipient at the American Choral Director Association Western Division convention in Salt Lake City, Utah