The Grace Cathedral Choirs
Music plays a vital role in the worship life of the Cathedral. The choirs of Grace Cathedral provide musical leadership during all sung worship services in the Cathedral. Adults, youth, and children all share their musical gifts leading inspiring congregational hymns and service music along with providing high quality anthems and major choral works from many choral genres and musical periods. The Cathedral is affiliated with the Royal School of Church Music in America.
Contact Zachary Cope, interim Cathedral Choirmaster, if you would like to join one of the Cathedral’s choirs.
Rehearsals: Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m.
Sunday warm-ups at 10 a.m.
The Cathedral Choir sings for the 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning liturgy and many feast days and Diocesan services. The ensemble also sings for seasonal Choral Evensongs, major works concerts, and other Cathedral musical events. Membership is open to all high school and college students and adults who feel a calling to this ministry. Basic musical literacy is recommended. The choir sings the entire year except August and non-Episcopalians are welcome.
Gentlemen’s Choir (middle, high school and adult men)
Rehearsals: Sundays from 11:45 .m. 12:20 p.m. (Rehearsals follow the 10:30 a.m. service)
The Cathedral Gentlemen’s Choir sings for the 10:30 a.m. service once per month, usually the fourth Sunday. The Choir sings diverse repertoire from many different genres and centuries, and welcomes anyone who has an interest in singing in this chamber setting. The ensemble sings from mid-September through May. Musical experience is helpful but not necessary and Cathedral membership is not a prerequisite.
Cathedral Choristers (4th grade and older)
Rehearsals: Tuesdays from 5:45 to 7:00 p.m.
The Cathedral Choristers is a treble choir of girls and boys starting at grade 4 that sings challenging sacred literature of many styles, genres, and languages. The Choristers rehearse from mid-August through mid-May and generally sing on the third Sunday of each month. They also sing for many feast days and Holy Day Services as well as weddings and funerals. Recent spring Choir Tours have included trips to Omaha, St. Louis, Washington D.C. and Atlanta.
Children receive training in music reading, theory, and vocal production. As an affiliate of the Royal School of Church Music in America, Choristers progress through a graded music literacy education program that provides academic challenges and individual rewards.
Social events are also provided for children through the singing year to include pizza parties, bowling, pool parties, and many other fun activities. These events, coupled with excellent musical instruction and a high choral standard, provide a choir program for children and youth which sets the standard of excellence in all we do as a central musical goal. Membership in the Cathedral is not required.
The Handbell Choirs
Grace Cathedral has two handbell choirs. Handbells I meets on Wednesday evenings from 6:30-7:30 p.m. This group is for more advanced ringers. Handbells II meets on Wednesday evenings from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. and is for beginners and intermediate ringers.
Both groups play regularly for church services, special events and in the community. Besides these groups, duets, trios and quartets also are active and welcome. The Cathedral has two sets of Schulmerick Handbells (3 octaves and 5 octaves) as well as a five-octave set of Mallmark handchimes.
The Grace Cathedral Organ
Schantz Organ Company
Opus 1492, Original Installation 1978
History of Organs in St. Mary’s Chapel
The Hall Organ Company of New Haven, Connecticut installed the first Cathedral organ in 1917. It was a three-manual and pedal instrument with “modern electric action and detached console.” The organ was divided – the Great and Choir divisions on the east organ chamber, and the Swell and Pedal divisions in the west organ chamber. “A unique feature” of this organ was “a separate console in the Chapel” from which seven stops of the main organ could be played. This small, one-manual console was built into the rear Chapel wall between the center door and the steps leading from the Cathedral Chancel, and the pipes from the east organ chamber spoke into the Chapel through grille work over the small console.
By 1947, the Hall main organ console had fallen in disrepair, and the Reuter Organ Company of Lawrence, Kansas, was contracted to build a new main console. Some discussion occurred and even a proposal was made to replace the Chapel organ console, but this project was deemed unnecessary at the time. In 1958 a contract for a new Cathedral organ was signed with the Aeolian-Skinner Company of Boston, Massachusetts. The Hall organ was removed in 1961, as was the small Chapel organ console, and no organ stood in St. Mary’s Chapel from 1961 to 1998.
Ralph C. Flowers, a parishioner of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church but long-time member of The Cathedral Choir, named in his will a large bequest to Grace Cathedral “to be used to pay the costs of installing a small pipe (not electronic) organ with two manual keyboards and a full pedal board in St. Mary’s Chapel.” When Mr. Flowers died in 1995, the Very Reverend Marc D. Lee, Dean of the Cathedral, appointed the Chapel Organ Committee: Myles J. Criss (Organist and Choirmaster, Chair), Phil Coolidge (Cathedral Architect, ex officio ), Hurst Coffman, Charlotte Burris, Ben Blair, Evelyn Meade, and Billye June Bradley. The committee selected the Martin Ott Pipe Organ Company to construct the new organ. The original contract called for two prepared stops to be installed at a later date, and Harold H Geer and others gave these stops in memory of John C. Lincoln. The completely finished nine-rank organ was installed in November 1998.
In 2004, the Chapel was remodeled. Pews were replaced with movable chairs. Color schemes were changed and flooring replaced. In order to accommodate new functions held in the space, the depth of the organ was decreased by removing the 16’ Bourdon pipes. These pipes were replaced with electronics and the organ was able to be successfully pushed back against the west wall. In 2010, Martin Ott re-pitched the original 1 1/3’ Quinte pipes into a 2’ Flachflöte. The organ is a delightful instrument – ideally suited to accompany weddings and funerals as well as lead congregational singing.