Samuel Backman currently serves as Director of Sacred Music at Holy Cross Catholic Church, where he chairs a multi-faceted music program across three campuses, functioning as principal organist and conductor of the Holy Cross Choir, St. Helena Singers, and Tenebrae Choir. Samuel also serves as coordinator and host of an annual series of musical performances at Holy Cross. In addition to his primary role as a musician, he oversees various dimensions of the parish’s liturgical life. Prior to his employment at Holy Cross, he held positions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Golden Valley, MN; the Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, MN; Saint Philip’s Episcopal Church in Ardmore, OK, Saint Paul’s on the Green Episcopal Church in Norwalk, CT, and the University Church at Yale in New Haven, CT.
An active performer, Samuel has been featured as an organ recitalist for conferences hosted by the American Guild of Organists and the Church Music Association of America. His performances have also been featured on Pipedreams, the National Public Radio Broadcast service hosted by Michael Barone. He is also a composer and arranger of music for choir, organ, piano, and chamber ensembles and his compositions have been published by Paraclete Press. Most recently, Samuel composed a two-act musical entitled Moonshine Abbey with a script by Fr. Kyle Kowalczyk.
Sam holds degrees from Saint Olaf College (B.M.), the Yale School of Music (M.M.), and the University of Oklahoma, (D.M.A.) He completed his organ studies in performance and improvisation with John Ferguson, Catherine Rodland, Martin Jean, Damin Spritzer, and John Schwandt, and he studied conducting with Anton Armstrong, Christopher Aspaas, Maguerite Brooks, and Timothy Mahr. Samuel is a recipient of many distinguished scholarships and awards, including Saint Olaf College’s G. Winston Cassler Scholarship, Yale University’s Mary Baker Award for excellence in organ accompaniment, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago’s Ruth and Paul Manz Scholarship Competition, and nomination to Pi Kappa Lambda, the national honor society for music.