Howard Helvey

In addition to serving since 1998 as Organist/Choirmaster of Calvary Episcopal Church, Howard Helvey maintains a national and international presence as a composer, opianist, conductor, and speaker.  In 2013, he co-founded and became conductor of the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble, a professional chamber choir.  And in 2016, he became Editor of the venerable publishing imprint, HW Gray. 

Known particularly for his choral music, Mr. Helvey maintains an extremely active writing schedule, and his hundreds of compositions and arrangements are published by Beckenhorst Press, Hinshaw Music, Oxford University Press, HW Gray, Boosey & Hawkes, Alliance Music, Lawson-Gould, E.C. Schirmer, MorningStar Music, Oregon Catholic Press, Paraclete Press and Roger Dean, among other companies.  His compositions have been featured on numerous recordings, national television and radio broadcasts, in such eminent venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA), Chicago's Orchestra Hall, the Meyerson Symphony Center (Dallas), the White House, the National Cathedral (Washington, D.C.), the former Crystal Cathedral (Garden Grove, California), and many locations throughout Europe and Asia.  In addition, his music is regularly performed at regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and other professional music organizations, and has been acclaimed as “engaging” (Choral Journal), “definitive” (Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians), “magical” (The Hymn) and—in response to his occasional inclusion of jazz elements—“fun and certain to be of interest” (The Diapason).  Recordings of his music appear on the Gothic, Innova, Pro Organo, Cedille, Regent (UK), Spektral (Germany) and Suisa (Switzerland) record labels.  Mr. Helvey is commissioned frequently by church, university, and professional ensembles, and recent performance highlights have been presented by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, the Choirs of King's College and Selwyn College (Cambridge, England), the BBC Singers, the Kansas City Chorale, the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble, Conspirare, The Crossing (Philadelphia), Chicago a cappella, the Turtle Creek Chorale (Dallas), the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, the Choirs of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York), the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola (New York), the Choir of Trinity Wall Street (New York), the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, Kammerchor Constant (Cologne, Germany), Officina Corale (Rome, Italy),  molto cantabile (Lucerne, Switzerland), Coro Ricercare (Lisbon, Portugal), Coro de la Comunidad de Madrid, Le Madrigal de Luxembourg, Melting Vox (Belgium), Overijssel Kamerkoor (Netherlands), and Pro Musica (Copenhagen, Denmark)—and by university/collegiate choirs from Stanford, Harvard, Concordia, Luther, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.  Anthems and motets by Mr. Helvey have recently become part of the venerable Choral Evensong services in the English cathedrals of Ely, Christ Church (Oxford), York, Hereford, Norwich, Chester and Wells.  He received international awards in 2002, 2003 and 2006 (as first prize winner) from the John Ness Beck Foundation, who annually recognizes outstanding achievement in choral composition.

As a pianist, Mr. Helvey collaborated (1997-2012) with distinguished artist Richard Steinbach in concerts and recordings of four-hand and two-piano literature.  Performance highlights have included concerts in dozens of cities throughout the United States, Canada and England, and—by invitation—as duo artists at the 2000 national meeting of the Music Teachers National Association convention in Minneapolis.  Widening their exposure through television appearances in the United States and Canada, the Steinbach/Helvey duo has offered its performances to a broad and diverse community.  2001 saw the international release of their critically-acclaimed debut CD recording Piano Duo which included the brilliant and rarely-performed masterwork Eight Variations on an Original Theme in A-flat Major by Franz Schubert.  The Steinbach/Helvey duo was formerly managed by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists.  Along with violinist Mari Thomas and cellist Susan Petersen, Mr. Helvey is also a founding member of the Hannaford Piano Trio.

With cognate studies in conducting, voice, and organ, Mr. Helvey holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Music degree in composition and piano performance from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music.  Designated an undergraduate Chautauqua Scholar, he pursued additional studies in piano at New York’s Chautauqua Institution.  Mr. Helvey has studied piano with Raymond Herbert, Jan Houser, Richard Morris and Dolores Gadevsky; and his composition teachers have included John Cheetham, Thomas McKenney, Darrell Handel and Frederick Bianchi.  As one passionate about effective congregational hymn-singing, Mr. Helvey received additional training in hymn-accompanying and organ improvisation from Gerre Hancock.

Other ongoing interests include reading, photography, animals/pets, fitness, and exploring art and art history—particularly surrounding early 20th-century movements in American art such as The Eight (the precursor of the so-called Ashcan School), the Stieglitz 291 group, and the epic 1913 Armory Show in New York City.


Visit Howard's website: howardhelvey.com

Contact Howard via email: howardhelvey@hotmail.com

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Listen to a few of Howard's recent choral works:

O Quam Gloriosum for mixed choir and clarinet (Boosey and Hawkes).  Commissioned by The Cliff Singers of Briar Cliff University, Sioux City, Iowa, Dr. Mark I. Simmons, Conductor.  Recorded by the East Carolina University Chamber Singers; Dr. Daniel Bara, director; Christopher Grymes, clarinet.  From the CD Eternal Light (Gothic Records, G-49272), Copyright 2010 Loft Recordings, LLC.  Used with kind permission.

Sweetest of Sweets for mixed choir and organ (E.C. Schirmer).  For William Bausano and Frank Jordan, in honor of their many years of inspired music ministry at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church, Oxford, Ohio.  Recorded by the Philovox Ensemble of Boston; Jane Ring Frank, director; Heinrich Christensen, organ. 

Ezekiel Saw the Wheel (arrangement) for mixed choir, a cappella (Beckenhorst Press) [also arranged for TTBB men's choir].  For Mark Squire, in appreciation of his generous spirit, outstanding musicianship, and passion for ministry and the arts.  Recorded by the Nordic Choir of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; Dr. Craig Arnold, director.  From the CD A New Hosanna, Copyright 2009 Luther College Recordings.  Used with kind permission.

O Gracious Light for mixed choir, a cappella (Oxford University Press).  A gift from the Diocese of Southern Ohio to Vladimir, Metropolitan of St. Petersburg and Ladoga, in grateful recognition of his care for the Miami Valley Episcopal-Russian Network, and of our common ministry as followers of Jesus Christ, our gracious light.  Recorded by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, Ohio; Dr. Stephan Casurella, director; 2011.

Magnificat for mixed choir and organ (Oregon Catholic Press).  Commissioned by the choir and congregation of the Reformed Church of Poughkeepsie, New York to honor Dr. John A. Davis, Jr., organist/choir director.  Recorded by the OCP Recording Choir, St. Mary's Cathedral, Portland, Oregon; Angela Westhoff-Johnson, director; Douglas Schneider, organ.

Ride On, King Jesus (arrangement) for mixed choir, a cappella (Beckenhorst Press).   [also arranged for TTBB men's choir].  Recorded by the Roanoke College Choir, Salem, Virginia; Dr. Jeffrey Sandborg, director.

Jesus Christ the Apple Tree for mixed choir, a cappella (Oregon Catholic Press, 2012).  The hymn tune MELCHER LM, and this choral setting, is dedicated to The Reverend Doctor Sarah Melcher on the occasion of her reception of full ordained ministerial standing in the United Church of Christ and installation as "Scholar in Residence" at St. John United Church of Christ, Bellevue, Kentucky in a four-way covenant with St. John United Church of Christ, the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ, and Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio).  Sunday, the Day of Pentecost, 23 May 2010.  Recorded by the Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, Cincinnati, Ohio; Dr. Stephan Casurella, director; 2011.

Awake, Arise! for mixed choir and organ (MorningStar).  Given with deep appreciation to Sanford R. Martin, for his many dedicated years as organ benefactor and for his distinguished service as Senior Warden (1998-2001) of Calvary Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, Ohio.  Recorded by the Choir of Calvary Episcopal Church, Cincinnati, Ohio; Howard Helvey, director; Todd Wilson, organ.

Three Teasdale Madrigals for mixed choir, a cappella (Oxford University Press).  Commissioned for the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus (Philip Barnes, conductor) by George Durnell and Eleanor Harris in loving tribute to their parents Richard Eugene Durnell and Helen Lautrup Durnell.  Recorded by the Stanford Chamber Chorale of Stanford University; Dr. Stephen Sano, director.

    Sunset: St. Louis

    I am wild

    Life has loveliness to sell

The Morning Trumpet (arrangement) for mixed choir, a cappella (Oxford University Press).  Commissioned by the Chancel Choir of First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio–Ronald J. Jenkins, conductor–for their performance at the  2008 Ohio Choral Directors Association Summer Conference.  Recorded by the Chancel Choir of First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio; Ronald J. Jenkins, director (live OCDA performance).

White Branches for mixed choir, a cappella (Mark Foster Music / Hal Leonard).  Commissioned by the Bullis School Concert Choir (Potomac, Maryland), Jason Strunk, conductor, for their performance at the 20th Annual Independent Schools Choral Festival at Washington National Cathedral, October, 2009.

Love Came Down at Christmas for mixed choir, oboe and piano (Beckenhorst Press) [also arranged for SSA women's choir]; orchestration by Stephen Main.  Commissioned by the Chancel Choir of Heritage United Methodist Church, Hattiesburg, Mississippi (Mark Hugh Malone, Conductor) in memory of Jackie Thornton Malone.  Recorded by the Chancel Choir of First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio, and members of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra; Ronald J. Jenkins, director.

Joshua Fit de Batttle of Jericho (arrangement) for mixed choir and piano 4-hands (Beckenhorst Press) [also arranged for TTBB men's choir].  Gratefully given to the Rev. Keith M. Haithcock, Pastor and Teacher of St. John United Church of Christ, Bellevue, Kentucky, who boldly fights to tumble walls of spiritual division, revealing the radically inclusive love of God.  Recorded by the Aire Born Studio Choir; Craig Courtney, director.

What Shall We Sing for the Child? (arrangement) for men’s choir and piano 4-hands (Beckenhorst Press) [also arranged for SATB choir].  [SATB version] Commissioned by Jane Magnusson with great affection for the Cathedral Choir of Young Men and Boys of First Presbyterian Church, Davenport, Iowa; Steven R. Jobman, Minister of Music and Ruth E. Baker, Assistant Director of Music and Organist.  Recorded by the Aire Born Studio Choir; Craig Courtney, director.

When for Eternal Worlds We Steer (arrangement) for mixed choir, a cappella (Beckenhorst Press).  Commemorating the retirement in 2008 of Martin Hook as Director of Fine Arts for the Columbia (Missouri) Public Schools, and with deep appreciation for his many years of distinguished leadership as a choral conductor, educator and administrator.  Recorded by the Aire Born Studio Choir; Craig Courtney, director.

Lead, kindly Light for mixed choir, a cappella (Oxford University Press).  To Dr. Stephen M. Sano and the Stanford Chamber Chorale of Stanford University.  Recorded by the Stanford Chamber Chorale of Stanford University; Dr. Stephen Sano, director.

The Stranger's Gift for mixed choir, a cappella (Roger Dean / Lorenz).  Commissioned by the Wisconsin Chamber Choir, 2002; Dr. Gary McKercher, Music Director.  Recorded by the Stanford Chamber Chorale of Stanford University; Dr. Stephen Sano, director.

O Lux Beatissima for mixed choir, a cappella (Hinshaw Music) [also available for TTBB men's choir].  Celebrating the fortieth wedding anniversary of William and Julia Helvey; June 16, 2002.  Recorded by Chicago a cappella; Jonathan Miller, director.

O Sacrum Convivium! for TTBB men's choir, a cappella (MorningStar) [also arranged for SATB choir].  Commissioned by Brethren for their performance at the American Choral Directors Association National Conference in Chicago, Illinois, March, 2011.  Recorded by Brethren; Patrick Vaughn, director (live ACDA performance).

Let the Lower Lights Be Burning (arrangement) for mixed choir and organ (Beckenhorst Press).  Recorded by the Aire Born Studio Choir; Craig Courtney, director.

O Perfect Love for mixed choir, a cappella (unpublished). Celebrating the fiftieth wedding anniversary of William and Julia Helvey; June 16, 2012.  Recorded by the Chamber Singers of First Community Church, Columbus, Ohio; Ronald J. Jenkins, director.