Eric Holtan is minister of music, art and liturgy at Dove of Peace, where he has been director of the Chancel Choir and Alleluia Bell Choir since 2002. Eric also serves as cantor and since its launch in 2004 as artistic director of Dove’s immensely popular winter series of classical concerts. In 2006, he led the Grand Canyon Synod’s introduction of the new hymnal Evangelical Lutheran Worship, and has provided music for several synod events. Adept at many musical styles, Eric has helped expand Dove’s musical expression to include music of the African-American, Latino and other folk traditions, while building on Dove’s deep commitment to the great historical music of the Church.
Eric launched his professional music career at age 12 as a church organist. A native of Minnesota, he studied organ, voice and conducting at Gustavus Adolphus College. He earned a master’s degree in choral conducting at the University of Iowa, where he was assistant director of Camerata Singers, and the doctor of musical arts degree in choral and orchestra conducting at the University of Arizona, where he was the UA Opera Theater’s chorus master. His research focused on the role of the chorale form in Mendelssohn’s oratorios and symphonies as reflection of the musical and religious influences on Mendelssohn.
Eric is founding music director of True Concord Voices & Orchestra, southern Arizona’s GRAMMY-nominated professional chamber choir and orchestra. Under his direction, Eric has conducted performances of many of the most significant choral works in the canon, and has commissioned some of America’s leading composers for world premiere performances. Most recently, Eric conducted True Concord on its New York debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall for a special concert on the 14th anniversary of 9/11. On that same day, True Concord released its CD Far in the Heavens: Choral Music of Stephen Paulus, which ascended to No. 5 on Billboard’s Classical Chart and earned 2 GRAMMY nominations and 1 GRAMMY award.
Having grown up in the church, Eric was inspired by the organ and church music at a young age. Hymns were especially formative in his musicianship and faith. J.S. Bach’s music and spirituality also made a strong impression early on, including Bach’s frequent use of hymn tunes in his music and his emblematic “SDG” (Soli Deo Gloria/To God alone be the glory) signature on his compositions. In his graduate studies, Eric encountered similar musical techniques and spirituality in the music of Felix Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, leading Eric to his doctoral project that examined Bach’s influence on Mendelssohn. Like these and many others before him, Eric believes music, especially collective singing, is a gift from and deepens our communion with the Divine.