The Cathedral’s Music

Recent Activity

Choral Evensong broadcast today at 5:15 PDT!
An archive service from Lent 2013, sung by the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys:

Responses: William Byrd
Psalm 119:9-16 - a mystery chant (any guesses?)
Canticles: Evening Service in E major - Herbert Murrill
Anthem: Timor et tremor - Francis Poulenc
Hymns: 455, 665
Voluntaries: Plainte, from Suite brève - Jean Langlais
De profundis, from Neuf pièces - Langlais

Please join us at gracecathedral.org or on the Grace Cathedral Facebook page; the service will be introduced by the Dean. Clergy and staff will be on hand in the Facebook comments section to welcome and answer questions.
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Dear friends, as you may know, non-essential business in much of the Bay Area has been shut down or moved online. We ask your prayers for those who are experiencing financial hardship due to these circumstances.

The Grace Cathedral and Cathedral School for Boys staff are fortunate to have strong support and leadership. CSB faculty, including our Instructor of Voice and Music Theory Mr. Kevin Fox, are working virtually with students. While distance imposes real limits on teaching voice, we expect our choristers will come back having made big leaps in music theory!

As for the Cathedral’s liturgical life, today an archived Evensong service will be posted at gracecathedral.org/sermons . The clergy and staff are working on more extended ways to offer virtual worship—please see the Cathedral website for more details. And, the music team hope to soon be able to share more of our archived choral music with you—stay tuned to this page. For now, enjoy another wonderful Magnificat from our repertoire:
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As a proactive public health measure, and expression of love for our congregations and community, the Diocese of California has suspended public worship at all churches through at least the end of March. Grace Cathedral will be holding closed services of Evensong Thursdays at 5:15p and Ante-communion (similar to Holy Eucharist but without the Eucharistic portion of the liturgy) Sundays at 11a, and webcasting these for the public. As this is a quickly evolving situation, tonight's Evensong will be closed but only webcast in audio form as usual on our website. For those who wish to attend virtually, please keep informed by visiting gracecathedral.org. Music for tonight, sung by a quartet of our choirmen:

Responses: William Harris
Psalm 95 - Francis H. Champneys
Canticles: Short "Dorian" Service - Thomas Tallis
Anthem: In the beginning, O Lord - Matthew Locke
Hymns: 29, Ar hyd y nos
Voluntaries: Aria - Herbert Howells
Prelude in F major - Johann Christian Kittel

Please note, also, that Grace Cathedral will remain open to the public for visits and private prayer 8a - 6p daily.
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We’re famous for our music! People come from all over the Bay Area and the world to hear our Choir of Men and Boys, our 7,466 pipe Aeolian-Skinner organ and our Christmas Concerts.

You’ll be transported by the ethereal music of our choral Evensongs. Our Christmas Concerts are a beloved San Francisco tradition. At every service whether on a Sunday  or a special day like Christmas and Easter, everyone is welcome to hear beautiful sacred music, for free. Experiencing music in our soaring gothic cathedral with its unique acoustics, soaring nave and jewel-like stained glass windows is a feast for the ears, eyes and soul.

Check out the Choir’s playlists on Spotify

Music Lists:

Lent – Eastertide 2020
Christmas – Epiphany 2019-20
Fall 2019
Lent – Eastertide 2019
Fall 2018 
Lent – Eastertide 2018 
Christmas – Epiphany 2017-18
Fall 2017

Looking for a fantastic holiday gift?

We’re also famous for our non-liturgical music, hosting many concerts and other performances during the year. Find out about upcoming events on our calendar and our organ recitals page.

The Choir of Men and Boys

Grace Cathedral has had a men’s choir since its founding as an institution in 1906, and boys’ voices were added in 1913. The centuries-old Anglican tradition of a men and boys choir has since blossomed here, as one of a handful of such choirs in the United States. Currently, the Grace Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys is comprised of 12 choirmen and 24 choristers. The boys of the Choir are students at Cathedral School for Boys. The men of the Choir are a professional ensemble.

The Choir of Men and Boys is heard at the 11 am Sunday Eucharist and at the 5:15 pm Thursday Evensong. The weekly choir rehearsal on Sunday mornings at 10:15 am is held in the Quire and is open to all visitors.

The Choir of Men and Boys also perform in a series of much loved Christmas concerts that are a San Francisco Christmas tradition. Their latest CD of favorite carols and holiday masterpieces, all recorded live during the 2016 Christmas Concert Series, is available for purchase now!

  • Our Cathedral choristers will be back from their summer break and singing evensong with the Men of the Choir at 5:15 p.m. on Thursday, September 5, 2019.
  • On Sunday September 8, 2019, the Choir of Men and Boys will be singing at the 11 a.m. Eucharist and also singing a concert to bid farewell to the Unearthed exhibit at 3 p.m.
  • Rehearsals begin once again for the Cathedral Camerata, our volunteer choir, on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 at 7 p.m. Please contact camerata@gracecathedral.org if you would like more information about joining this all gender ensemble!

TP-music-organ-1The Cathedral Organs

The Cathedral’s main organ was built by the Aeolian-Skinner Company in 1934. Its 7,466 pipes make it one of the largest organs in the Western United States and its beauty  makes it one of the finest American classic organs.  In 2010, the organ underwent a major restoration to insure its viability for another 75 years.   We have two other splendid organs, the Chapel of Grace Aeolian-Skinner (1930) and the William Davis hand-pumped organ (1862).

Learn more about our organs.

We also offer an organ concert series on select Sunday afternoons during the year.  Visit our organ recitals page to see when the next organ concert will take place.  

TP-carillon-3The Carillion

Grace Cathedral’s bell carillon celebrated its 75th birthday on Christmas Eve in 2015.  The history of this collection of forty-four bronze bells is almost as striking as the bells themselves! It involves a British-born orphan who started life in the workhouse, became a San Francisco dentist and investor and lived on a dollar a day during his last years so he could realize his goal of gifting the cathedral not just the bells but the soaring Singing Tower where they reside.

The bells have rung on many historic occasions: for D-Day, VE and VJ Days, the funeral of William Randolph Hearst, and the centenary of the cable cars.

On a somber note, the carillon has marked the number of Golden Gate Bridge suicides and at important funerals, each year of the departed person’s life is tolled by the Bourdon bell.
On a happy note, the bells have rung out San Francisco’s World Series and Super Bowl triumphs.

Today, you can hear the carillon ring every hour from 9 am to 6 pm.

Learn more about the bells.

SP-camerat-1.jpgCathedral Camerata

Love to sing? The Cathedral Camerata is a mixed-voice ensemble that sings a diverse repertoire of choral literature from sixteenth-century motets to works of the present day. The group serves an important ministry to the community and everyone is welcome to audition.  Singers should have choral experience, read music and be able to commit to regular rehearsals. Membership in the congregation is not required.

The Camerata sings each week at Sunday Evensong during the academic year, as well as on other occasions, and rehearses on Wednesday evenings . For more information or to arrange an informal audition, please contact the Music Department by email or at 415-749-6332.

SP-visiting choir-1.jpgVisiting Choirs

Our Sing for Pleasure program offers choral groups the opportunity to sing for 30 minutes in the nave, Mondays through Thursdays from 1 – 3 pm, as the Cathedral calendar allows. The selections must be unaccompanied. Visiting choirs may also submit a recent recording to be considered for a pre-service program before the 11 am Choral Eucharist on Sunday mornings. For more information, please contact the Music Department by email or at 415-749-6332.

sp-bachman-1.jpgThe Diana Dollar Knowles Canon Director of Music

Benjamin Bachmann, Canon Director of Music, received his first organ training  in his native Akron, Ohio with Robert Quade. Ben was the recipient of the Emilie Spivey Scholarship at Clayton College and State University in Atlanta, Georgia, where he studied with Richard Morris. He was Assistant Organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta, and Associate Director and composer for Im promptu, a civic choir in Atlanta. He received his Master’s Degree at the Royal College of Music, where he studied with Margaret Phillips. At the Royal College, he was the recipient of the Walford Davies Organ Prize in 2004. During his time in London, Ben was Organ Scholar at St. Paul’s Knightsbridge and Farm Street Church. Ben was made a Fellow of the American Guild of Organists in 2008. He has participated in numerous RSCM choir training camps and worked with conductors including George Guest, David Willcocks,  John Rutter, and David Hill.

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