Jeannine: Please introduce yourself to our readers. Who is Mark Lawson and how did you come to the music publishing business?
Mr. Lawson: My interest in publishing began when I was in graduate school and was asked to write curriculum for children. I contributed to children’s curriculum projects for about 6 years while serving as a full-time director of music for two congregations in the St. Louis area. During that time I began a friendship with Rodney Schrank, who began MorningStar Music Publishers in 1987. From 1987 to 1997, I had the opportunity to watch the beginning of MorningStar and became familiar with the music that was being published. In 1997 I was able to purchase the company and work beside Rodney for three years before he retired.
As I began traveling for MorningStar, I became friends with Bob and Cynthia Schuneman, owners of ECS publishing. In 2011 they approached me about possibly distributing for ECS and buying the company. Both Bob and Cynthia wanted to see the company remain independent and able to continue the legacy that had been established. Cynthia unfortunately passed away in 2012, and then Bob died just this past December.
It was a true pleasure to work with, and learn from these great publishers who were so instrumental in building these two important companies.
Jeannine: As President of the ECS Publishing Group, you oversee the publishing activities for E.C. Schirmer, Galaxy Music Corporation, and MorningStar Music Publishers. Each company represents publications that are known for excellence! Excellence in compositions, composers represented, and published format.
- How is each publisher different/the same?
- What genre of music is published by each?
- Who is the audience of each? Church musician, organist, pianist, choral director, school director?
- Representative composers of each?
- New 2016 releases?
Mr. Lawson: MorningStar is the youngest of the companies and is primarily known for Sacred music, primarily centered in the different liturgical traditions. Because of this focus, choral music often begins by the examination of the text and when a piece can be used within the context of the Church Year. We do publish pieces that are more appropriate for concert or school use, but the main focus has always been on the Church. Because of this, we publish music for choir, organ, piano, instruments, handbell, and books having to do with Church music and its practice.
The initial influx of the Paul Manz copyrights into the MorningStar catalog helped it acquire instant credibility. Composers such as Charles Callahan, Hal Hopson, and K. Lee Scott were represented in some of the first years of publication, quickly followed by Michael Burkhardt, David Cherwien, Robert Hobby, Carl Schalk, and a host of others. The Cathedral Series, edited by John Romeri helped establish a catalog of distinctly Catholic music, and the addition of the National Lutheran Choir series, greatly enhanced the offerings for more advanced choirs. MorningStar has always sought out and published new composers and over the past few years compositions have been added to the catalog by composers such as Philip Stopford, Michael Trotta, Karen Marrolli, and many others.
This interview originally appeared in the April 2016 issue of the Pro-Motion Music e-newsletter. To read the entire interview visit www.promotionmusic.org. Dr. Jeannine Jordan, concert organist, is the co-owner of Pro-Motion Music LLC with her husband, David Jordan, media-artist. Together they are the creators and performers of the organ and multi-media concert experiences, Around the World in 80 Minutes, Bach and Sons, and From Seat to Shining Sea.