The Calvary Choir
Comprised of skilled volunteers and between six and eight Choral Scholars, the Calvary Choir primarily assists in liturgical leadership during the weekly Sunday 10:30 AM services. The choir season runs September through May; rehearsals are on Thursday evenings at 7:30 in Hannaford Hall (the parish hall directly behind—and connected to the church), and a brief rehearsal is held in the Chancel at 9:45 AM each Sunday prior to the 10:30 AM service.
The Choir also participates periodically in other services and programs, including the Annual Advent Service of Lessons and Carols, special liturgies on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, and in collaboration with guest conductors, composers, organists, and choirs. Recent collaborative highlights have included singing under the guest-direction of Mack Wilberg (Director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir), Gerre Hancock (former Organist and Master of the Choristers, St. Thomas Church, New York City) and Stephen Cleobury (Director of Music, King’s College, Cambridge, England).
Listen to the Choir: Praise the Lord, Ye Heavens Adore Him by Eric Thiman (Stephen Cleobury, guest conductor; Howard Helvey, organ)
Listen to excerpts from Good Friday, 2011: Movements from the Pergolesi Stabat Mater, Inflammatus et accensus, Vidit suum dulcem natum, Stabat mater dolorosa, Quando corpus morietur (Jenifer Thomas, soprano; Eric Jurenas, countertenor; Howard Helvey, organ)
The repertoire of the Calvary Choir is diverse, based largely on the classical choral/organ tradition, but with an eye and ear to contemporary expression as well. In any given period of a few weeks at Calvary, one might chorally experience: Gregorian chant; motets and anthems by Thomas Tallis, Orlando Gibbons, J. S. Bach, W. A. Mozart, Eric Thiman, Herbert Howells, John Rutter and K. Lee Scott; and spirituals and folk-hymn settings by William Dawson and Alice Parker. Anthems, hymns and service music by organist/choirmaster Howard Helvey are frequently presented as well.
Congregational singing enjoys a fervent, special tradition at Calvary Church. Led primarily by the magnificent 3,240-pipe E. M. Skinner organ, Calvary’s hymnody and service music is expressed primarily from two books: the Episcopal Hymnal 1982 and Lift Every Voice and Sing II. 21st-century hymn texts and tunes are incorporated as well, drawing from poets and authors such as Mary Louise Bringle, Thomas Troeger and Brian Wren, and composers David Hurd, William Rowan and Jane Marshall. The psalms are sung weekly primarily using Anglican chant with newly-composed congregational antiphons.
On occasion, Howard Helvey seeks to pair hymn texts and tunes that have historical significance, such as Nearer, My God, to Thee (words by Sarah F. Adams) with the tune HORBURY (composed by John Bacchus Dykes), widely reputed to be the final piece of music played by the 8-musician band aboard the RMS Titanic as it sank during the early hours of 15 April 1912.
The Choral Scholar Program for University Students
Located within close proximity to several universities and colleges, Calvary Episcopal Church is dedicated to integrating students into the life of the parish. Over the years, the Choir has particularly involved students from the University of Cincinnati’s acclaimed College-Conservatory of Music, located only a mile south of the church.
The Choral Scholar program is managed by the organist/choirmaster and the Choral Scholar Coordinator, Edy Dreith. A primary goal of the program is to provide college/university students with an opportunity to provide leadership in the Calvary Choir; a scholarship/stipend, based on rehearsal and service attendance, is awarded to each student. Additional opportunities for the students to perform periodically (as singers and/or instrumentalists) as soloists or within a chamber ensemble are highly encouraged.
Interested potential Choral Scholars should arrange an audition/interview with the organist/choirmaster. For the audition, the student should prepare a brief solo to sing (a short aria, hymn or carol is fine); in addition, vocal range and sight-reading ability will be assessed. While a Choral Scholar need not be a voice major (or even a music major), musical training and choral experience is advantageous. Download the flyer here. With any questions regarding the Choir and/or the Choral Scholar program, please contact the organist/choirmaster, Howard Helvey: email@example.com or 513-476-3261