As you will have read in the announcement from The Rev. Dr. Greg Kimura, Grace Cathedral will host a year-long internship in church music beginning this August. I and my colleagues in the Music Department are excited to have this opportunity, especially because it was to have begun in 2020, but had to be postponed twice!
This internship is a collaboration between the cathedral and the Association of Anglican Musicians (AAM), a US-based professional organization that supports church musicians working in the Episcopal Church. It provides a full-time salary, benefits, and housing to the intern, a rare opportunity in our field that makes it possible for the intern to fully immerse in the work of church music. Each year, a host church is selected — a significant music program that could provide mentorship and professional growth to a young organist or choir director, but where funding such a position independently may not be possible.
After Grace Cathedral was re-announced as the host last fall, we collected applications, and in March invited three finalists for in-person auditions here in San Francisco. Christopher Pharo, the appointed intern, impressed us not only with his musicianship at the organ, but with his willingness to roll up his sleeves and work with a room full of boy choristers, possibly a more daunting task for the newcomer than playing the cathedral organ! Mr. Pharo has good experience working in several small parish churches, so immersing in the Grace Cathedral Music Department’s day-to-day operations (chorister classes, rehearsals, meetings, and of course the numerous weekly and special liturgies) will ready him to take on bigger and better challenges in the church music field. I look forward to introducing Mr. Pharo to the congregation this August!
Christopher John Pharo began formal organ study under Ms. Carolyn Crossland in his hometown, Kinston, NC; and later under Mr. Andrew Scanlon and Dr. David Arcus at East Carolina University where he is pursuing his undergraduate degree in Sacred Music. Mr. Pharo has served as Organ Scholar for the Royal School of Church Music Carolina Course (2011) based in Raleigh, NC, and continues to work as a proctor (2012 – present) for the RSCM Charlotte Course. Mr. Pharo has been featured on numerous concert programs in North Carolina and in 2021 was invited to be the inaugural Featured Organ Scholar for the Nantucket Community Music Center’s Annual Organ Crawl in Nantucket, MA. Mr. Pharo is currently the Organist and Choirmaster for St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Goldsboro, NC. Upcoming performances include First Presbyterian in Oxford, MS, and St. Mary’s of the Hills in Blowing Rock, NC. Mr. Pharo will be relocating to San Francisco, CA this fall as the 2022-2023 Gerre Hancock Fellow for Grace Episcopal Cathedral. This fellowship allows Mr. Pharo to study liturgy and music with the excellent cathedral staff and the Grace Choir for Men and Boys.
Here’s a note from Christopher Pharo:
I am so honored to have been selected as this year’s Gerre Hancock Fellow for Grace Episcopal Cathedral in San Francisco! I am so very thankful to the Association of Anglican Musicians and Grace Cathedral for this tremendous opportunity. I know this appointment comes with great responsibility, but I am looking forward to everything the clergy and music staff have to offer. Though it saddens me to be leaving St. Stephen’s parish in Goldsboro, NC, I am excited for what this next chapter brings. To my friends and family who have loved and supported me, thank you, this would not be possible without all of you.
AAM has named the internship program after Gerre Hancock, an esteemed organist, choir trainer, and organ instructor, who served at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on 5th Avenue in Manhattan from 1971 – 2004, where a residential choir school provides a rich program of liturgical music. He was one of several musicians who founded AAM about 50 years ago. As we maintain another of the few choirs of men and boys in the United States, I and my colleagues here feel a warm connection with “Uncle Gerre,” frequently perform his choral and organ compositions (his Missa resurrectionis was our choral setting of the Mass on Easter Sunday this year, and will be also on Pentecost), and are honored to also carry on his legacy through this mentorship program.