Music is an integral part of who we are at Christ Church Cathedral.
When we gather for worship, we sing together exuberantly as a congregation; our choirs offer a variety of superb literature from the Anglican cathedral tradition and beyond; and our wide range of musical instruments gives voice to emotions ranging from exuberant praise to deep lament.
Other beloved traditions in our musical life include services of Choral Evensong, an annual performance of Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, a Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on the Sunday before Christmas and the popular Boar’s Head and Yule Log Festival.
Dr. Stephan Casurella, the cathedral’s director of music, talks about this season’s music offerings in an interview with WGUC’s Elaine Diehl.
The Cathedral Choir, directed by Stephan Casurella, is an ensemble of auditioned professional and volunteer choristers who sing at weekly Sunday morning services, monthly services of Evensong and other major liturgical observances in the church year. The choir offers a range of choral literature from the Anglican cathedral tradition, the folk tradition of African-Americans, newly written works and idioms from other cultures.
The Cathedral Choir is a member of the Greater Cincinnati Choral Consortium.
Christ Church Singers
Christ Church Singers is an all-volunteer ensemble designed for those who love to sing, but are not able to commit to the Cathedral Choir’s rehearsal and performance schedule. Singers meet for a single rehearsal and service several times a year throughout the season. Contact Stephan Casurella with your name, contact information and voice part if you would like to participate.
Cathedral Choir of Children and Youth
The Cathedral Choir of Children and Youth (CCCY), directed by Christopher Wheeler, is a citywide program that fosters a lifelong enjoyment and appreciation of music through the singing of sacred choral repertoire. Based on the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) Voice for Lifecurriculum, CCCY is open to children second grade and up. Learn more.
Our choral scholar program provides Cincinnati area high school students an opportunity to join the Cathedral Choir as apprentices. Successful applicants will receive intensive training in the art of fine choral singing so that they may begin the process of learning to perform at a professional level. They learn a wide range of repertoire, such as works by Tallis, Brahms and Howells, as well as spirituals and music of other cultures. For their efforts, they are compensated with a monthly stipend throughout the academic year.
Choral scholars participate in all the duties of the cathedral choir. This includes Thursday evening rehearsals, the Sunday morning Eucharist, monthly Choral Evensong, observances of holy days such as Christmas Eve, Ash Wednesday and Holy Week, as well as other liturgies or concerts as assigned by the cathedral.
“When high school students audition for our choral scholar program, I tell them and their parents, ‘One of two things will happen: you will sink, or you will learn to swim!’” says music director Stephan Casurella. “It is so rewarding to watch the growth in those students who learn to swim. When one of our choral scholars started the program, she was an impressive young woman with excellent academic credentials, and she had been studying music seriously for some time. But she was not yet up to learning the vast amount of difficult music that the Cathedral Choir sings. I was so proud of the way she grew as a person and musician, and it was a joy to hear her voice confidently singing music that meant so much to her, making a real contribution to the alto section!”
To apply for a choral scholar appointment, a student needs to submit an application form; an essay explaining why he or she is interested in the choral scholar program; and three letters of reference. One letter needs to be from a music teacher describing the student’s abilities as a musician. The other two letters need to be from other teachers, members of the clergy or community leaders describing the student’s personal qualities, such as maturity, responsibility and social skills.
Applications must be submitted by June 15 for the program year beginning in September. For more information, or if you wish to apply a choral scholar position in mid-year, contact Dr. Stephan Casurella.
Listen to Cincinnati Public Radio’s interviewwith Dr. Stephan Casurella about the cathedral’s choral scholar program. Note: The deadline for application has changed to June 15 since this recording was produced.
Our musical instruments contribute to the cathedral’s ability to offer the finest in music for worship services, recitals and concerts. They also are resources for members of the Greater Cincinnati community to make music in the resonant space of the cathedral nave or in the more intimate setting of Centennial Chapel.
The cathedral commissioned Richard Fowkes & Co. Pipe Organ Builders to build a new nave organ to replace the ailing Holtkamp. The installation of the instrument was completed by the summer of 2020.
Centennial Chapel Organ, II/22 (Opus 148)
The cathedral commissioned C. B. Fisk, Inc., to build a new organ for Centennial Chapel. The organ was dedicated in October of 2018 with an inaugural festival. Learn more about Opus 148 here.
Continuo Organ, I/4
Juget-Sinclair Organbuilders, 2012 (Opus 40)
Purchase of this instrument was made possible by a generous grant from H.B., E.W. and F.R. Luther Charitable Foundation. See specifications.
William Dowd, Boston, 1983.
Rebuilt by Glenn Giuttari, 2011.
Modeled after the eighteenth-century Parisian builder Etienne Blanchet, this double-manual harpsichord has two 8-foot choirs and one 4-foot choir. Range FF-f”’; transposing A415/A440. The instrument is excellent both for continuo playing and for solo repertoire.
Nave: Baldwin grand piano, rebuilt 2008.
Centennial Chapel: Steinway grand piano, rebuilt 2008.
Choir Room: Baldwin grand piano.
Undercroft: Petrof upright piano.
One diatonic octave of Whitechapel handbells for liturgical use.
For reasons lost to history, bells were not installed when the tower of Christ Church Cathedral was built. For almost a century, the tower was a beautiful, albeit silent, addition to the city skyline. That changed in 2003, when thanks to the leadership of Janet Hauck, the congregation raised funds to install a cast bell chime.
A cast bell chime is a musical instrument consisting of nine to twenty-nine bells. The chime at the cathedral is fourteen bells, the most popular range, which includes an octave and a fifth in a diatonic scale. The chime ranges from the bell note C down to the bell note F. The bells weigh from 116 pounds (C) to 1,990 pounds (F).
The Verdin Company, the world’s largest supplier of bells, carillons, and clocks, cast the bells. The Cincinnati company has provided bells to over 30,000 churches, including 100 cathedrals since 1842.
We are pleased to share the music of the bells with our city, not only to mark the passing of the hours, but also to celebrate happy occasions, to commemorate holidays and to mourn deaths.
Ensemble in Residence
Collegium Cincinnati, the cathedral’s ensemble-in-residence, is a vibrant musical organization that serves the Greater Cincinnati region. From the Passions of Bach to world premieres of newly written works, Collegium’s singers and instrumentalists present stylish musical events that surprise, move, and captivate audiences.
“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Collegium Cincinnati as an ensemble-in-residence,” says Stephan Casurella, the cathedral’s director of music. “This enduring partnership means that many of Collegium’s programs are presented at the cathedral.”
Collegium Cincinnati receives generous support from ArtsWave, the Ohio Arts Council, the Greater Cincinnati Foundation, and Christ Church Cathedral’s Ensign Harry J. Coombe Fund.
Collegium’s performances are made possible, in part, by generous contributions to Christ Church Cathedral’s Friends of Music Fund.
Friends of Music
Become a part of our great cathedral music tradition by becoming a Friend of Music. Your donation will be dedicated to special concerts, commissioned works, and other musical projects not supported by the cathedral’s music operating budget. Contribute online or mail a donation to the attention of Friends of Music, c/o the cathedral. (Make checks payable to Christ Church Cathedral and write “Friends of Music” on the memo line.) For more information, contact Stephan Casurella.
If you would like to learn how you could be part of the music, contact Merrilee Atkins to volunteer.