February 8, 2012

Cathedral Choral Society Presents Cathedral Sings!

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart 
Sunday, February 12th at 7:30 pm
Washington National Cathedral
Several times a year, the Cathedral Choral Society presents Cathedral Sings! - sing-alongs of some of the finest choral masterworks of all time featuring soloists from the Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program. Singers of every ability are welcome to experience singing in the glorious setting that is Washington National Cathedral. Participants also enjoy a lively interaction with CCS Music Director J. Reilly Lewis and enter for a chance to win 2 tickets to a CCS concert. 

Due to the popularity of these events and limited number of seats available in the National Cathedral Great Choir, click here to purchase advance tickets online or call (202) 537-2228.

J. Reilly Lewis, conductor
Jegyung Yang, soprano
Sarah Mesko, mezzo-soprano
Mauricio Miranda, tenor
Soloman Howard, bass

Todd Fickley, organist

Tickets: $10
score rental included

Ticket Ordering Information
Phone orders will be available until 4:00 p.m.
on Friday, February 10th.
Online orders will be available until 4:00 p.m.
on Sunday, February 12th.

Door Sales and Will Call
will be available 1 hour prior to performance
(6:30 p.m. on 2/12/12),in the Mid Nave,
just inside the main entrance of
Washington National Cathedral.
(Northwest End/Wisconsin Avenue access only)

For more information, please contact:
Daniel Ozment 
(202) 537-5510

November 9, 2011

Give To The Max Day - November 9th


We are excited to let you know about a great CCS fundraising opportunity!

We hope you will support our Glorious Music in a Glorious Setting® by joining in on this special event!

This special online fundraising effort will take place on Wednesday, November 9. CCS is registered, along with many other non-profits. Gifts made to CCS through the Razoo.com website on that day will not only support CCS directly but will also put CCS in the running for prizes. Organizations are eligible for prizes both for the highest dollar amount raised and for the highest number of individual donors.

SO, you yourself can make a gift (minimum is $10) and also ask your family and friends, far and wide, to consider a gift to CCS on Give to the Max Day.

It's easy! On November 9, go to Razoo.com and select "donate," then enter Cathedral Choral Society 
or click here!

You can use your American Express, VISA or MasterCard for payment.

Full disclosure: Razoo charges a 2.9% administrative fee which is paid by CCS, not the donor.

October 7, 2011

Cathedral Choral Society Presents A Celebration of Czech Music




Dvořák's TE DEUM


Under the gracious patronage of His Excellency
The Ambassador of the Czech Republic and Mrs. Gandalovičová

J. Reilly Lewis, conductor
Alexandra Berti, soprano
Magdalena Wór, mezzo soprano
Corey Bix, tenor
Aleksey Bogdanov, bass

Friday, October 28, 2011 at 7:30pm
Please note that due to the ongoing repairs, this concert will NOT take place at Washington National Cathedral

Conductor J. Reilly Lewis leads the Cathedral Choral Society in a concert featuring 
Dvořák's Te Deum and Janáček's Glagolitic Mass, presented as the culminating performance of the Embassy of the Czech Republic's Mutual Inspirations FestivalThis will be the first local performance of the original version of the Glagolitic Mass, a work Maestro Lewis last conducted during his inaugural year with the Choral Society in 1986.

Tickets starting at $25


 Exact seating cannot be guaranteed by specific seat location 

but comparable seating will be arranged by section.



(877) 537-2228 ¨  www.cathedralchoralsociety.org

The Cathedral Choral Society is the resident symphonic chorus at Washington National Cathedral. The oldest choral group in Washington, the chorus of 150 voices has enjoyed a long history of producing the finest choral music concerts for its audiences and has many education and community engagement programs.

Photo courtesy of The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception

October 5, 2011


Dear Friend of the Cathedral Choral Society, 

We had hoped by now to be able to tell you that our first concert on October 28 will be moved to The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception due to the ongoing closure of Washington National Cathedral. Unfortunately, that venue has not been confirmed yet but we expect to hear in the next day or so and will let you know as soon as we do.  Thank you so much for your patience during this difficult time.


Alison Combes
Executive Director

Photo courtesy of Lawrence Reppert

December 14, 2010

Washington Post Review - Joy of Christmas

Tickets are on sale now for The Joy of Christmas! at the Strathmore Music Center
Monday, December 20th 8:00pm!

Review: Joy of Christmas, Joe Banno
Positive responses to music director J. Reilly Lewis's "Joy of Christmas" programs with his Cathedral Choral Society have become almost as much a tradition of the season as the concerts.But, as Saturday's annual presentation proved again, these are the smartest, least-hackneyed and most musically satisfying of the plentiful choral events on offer in the Washington area each December.The cathedral, of course, always adds powerfully to the atmospherics at work - whether wrapping an evocative halo around the divided-chorus antiphony in Elizabeth Poston's "Jesus Christ the Apple Tree" during Saturday's opening Advent wreath procession, or providing crisp reverberation to the athletically virtuosic brass-quintet playing from members of the Washington Symphonic Brass. But the fresh repertoire on offer brought comparable rewards, with a mix of rarely heard material from Felix Mendelssohn and 16th-century composer Jacob Handl, and lovely contemporary pieces by Stephen Caracciolo, Alexander L'Estrange, Frank La Rocca and Richard Wayne Dirksen.The premiere of a newly commissioned carol, "The Nine Gifts" by Robert Chilcott, revealed a warmly consonant charmer. But there was challenging pungency in the torrential onslaught of Adolphus Hailstork's Toccata on "Veni Emmanuel," played with great verve by organist Todd Fickley. Even that tired chestnut of Christmas choral concerts, the guest appearance by a high school chorus, was elevated here by the pure tone, rich blend and superior musicianship of the Maret School Concert Choir, which, under James Irwin's sensitive baton, more than held its own against the rarefied beauty of the Cathedral Choral Society.The program will be repeated in the airy, if more secular, acoustics of Strathmore Hall on Dec. 20.
- Joe Banno


December 3, 2010

Stephen Caracciolo on Joy of Christmas Program

In preparation for this season's Joy of Christmas performances, we sat down with composer and conductor, Stephen Caracciolo to get the scoop on his biggest influences and inspirations. Hear his work -"The Lamb" from Songs of Innocence - in action at this season's Joy of Christmas performances at Washington National Cathedral and the Music Center at Strathmore

How old were you when you first seriously considered making music your career?
About 12. I was singing in a men and boys choir and fell in love with the whole idea of making music with others. The Anglican liturgy was beautiful, and the way music, liturgical action, and spoken word was combined has informed the rest of my life.

Who supported and inspired you to make the choice?
First my mother, second my HS choral conductor.

Do you have a pre-composition ritual or practice that helps you get started?
Not really. Finding good texts is the hardest thing for me. I'm really selective.

Which composers most influence your style?
Almost anyone British, any era.. Also, as strange as this may sound, Alfred Burt, whose carols I sang in high school. His tonal style but with near "jazz" colorings I find creeping into my music even when I didn't intend it too. Have you ever taken a Burt Carol and added a rhythm section to it? You get something close to a jazz chart. Sometimes my scores have that same character. "The Lamb" has seventh chords, and added note chords, and twists of harmony that sound something close to jazz if you add a "beat".

In light of the recent economic downturn, what advice would you give to aspiring singers and composers?
Become very good at your craft while still diversifying. My real job is serving as a conductor and teacher, but I compose and sing on the side. Enjoy working with people. Get some business experience in while you are young, you may have the opportunity to work in arts administration to help support yourself. Get into the very best university program you can, aim high. Most importantly, after you graduate with whatever degree, do not be afraid to simply volunteer your time to other musical artists and professionals whom you respect in your community. Established mentors in the field can help you find a productive slot in the local musical scene. If I had my life to live over, that is what I would do.

Could you briefly tell us about the creation of The Lamb?
If I recall, "The Lamb" was one of those Summer Christmas itches. I settled on the text, wrote the melodic material first, then created the harmonies around that. A very simple construction. My scores tend to explore the tension between dissonance and consonance. Where is the harmony going? How tight can I twist the dissonances before I release them? That character is especially clear in this short setting; at "We are called by his name", for instance. Just weeks after completing this text, I received a new commission, so I selected three additional Blake texts and created a set, "The Songs of Innocence". Thank you for singing the setting of "The Lamb" from that set. I look forward to seeing you at next Monday's rehearsal.

Stephen Caracciolo is a choral conductor recognized for his passionate artistry, creative teaching, and is a nationally known composer and arranger whose choral works have been performed throughout the United States and Europe. Mr. Caracciolo is currently Assistant Professor of voice and conducting at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

October 8, 2010

Joyeux Anniversaire, Vierne.

October 8th marks the 140th anniversary of Louis Victor Jules Vierne, famed French organist and no stranger to tragedy. Although the dramatic extent of Vierne’s life varies among sources, one cannot deny the presence of some unfortunate circumstances appearing in his music.
Vierne was born in 1870 to doting parents in Poitiers. Facing the odds from the beginning, Vierne suffered from congenital cataracts rendering him nearly blind. Previously thought to be inoperable, his father, a journalist, facilitated an operation by the inventor of the iridectomy – the introduction of an artificial pupil to the iris. This revolutionary procedure allowed Vierne to be what we consider today, legally blind.
Although severely visually impaired, Vierne was not without tremendous talent. His musical inclination was visible at a very early age and fostered by his uncle, Charles Colin, professor of Oboe at the Paris Conservatory and winner of the Prix de Rome.  Although Colin was an accomplished oboist – his works still performed widely – he was also an organist, and first introduced his new nephew to the instrument on which he excelled.
At age 11, Vierne lost his uncle to an acute respiratory illness and found himself simultaneously devastated with grief but with a renewed fervor to pursue a career as an organ recitalist. His father continued to be supportive both emotionally and financially until the time of his death which would come prematurely. By the age of 15, Vierne had learned to read Braille as a result of partial blindness, become an organ phenomenon and lost his two strongest mentors and supporters – his uncle, and now his father.
Determined to persevere as an organist and composer, Louis Vierne became a pupil of the renowned Cesar Franck at the Paris Conservatory. One year later, no stranger to tragedy, the young man found himself another loss with which to contend. Cesar Franck was killed suddenly as the result of a tragic traffic incident. Vierne continued his studies at the conservatory haunted by the death of so many seminal figures in his life at the young age of 19.
Vierne’s career took off, and he was appointed assistant organist at Church of Saint-Sulpice. After winning a fierce competition, he was finally appointed organist of the Cathedral at Notre Dame and married soprano, Arlette Taskin. Vierne took many pupils that would later become fixed marks in music, including Nadia Boulanger and Maurice Duruflé. Things were looking up.
But tragedy has a way of following us around. Over the next decade, Louis Vierne would divorce his wife as a result of her affair with his friend, an organ-builder – oh the irony. He would lose both brothers in the battlefields of World War 1, lose a child to tuberculosis and nearly lose his own leg in an automobile accident that would come close to costing his career at the organ. This is where most people would give up and live a life of relative obscurity.
Not Vierne. He continued composing, teaching and performing. He even embarked on a North American tour to raise funds for the restoration of his beloved instrument at Notre Dame that had fallen into disrepair. The tour included a performance on the Wanamaker Organ in Philadelphia. Through the face of immense personal tragedy, Vierne’s career flourished. Music was his refuge, and he often remarked to friends that he wished his death to be in the midst of creation, to die while at the organ.
On June 2nd, 1937 with Maurice Duruflé at this side, Louis Vierne got his wish. He suffered a heart attack at the Cathedral of Notre Dame, on the bench mid-performance, at the console of his beloved instrument that never let him down. When he collapsed, his foot hit the E pedal, echoing relief and peace throughout the Nave of Notre Dame.