Organ, Sacred Music, and Historical Keyboards

Schola Cantorum

Schola Cantorum at Christ Church


“The Christ Church Schola Cantorum… sings beautifully.” Fanfare, Jan/Feb 2010.  Founded in 1997 by Stephen Kennedy, the Schola performs the Office of Compline at Christ Church Rochester NY, Sunday evenings, October through April. First-Sunday Candlelight Concerts and Compline was named “The coolest, most unusual music experience in the city…” in Rochester Magazine’s “Our Top Picks of 2014.”

This acclaimed vocal and instrumental ensemble is also an early music laboratory through engagement of historic rehearsal and performance practices. The Schola specializes in Gregorian chant, Renaissance and Baroque choral music, and choral improvisation.  It has collaborated with Manfred Cordes and Weser-Renaissance Bremen, Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Players, and organists Edoardo Bellotti, Hans Davidsson, David Higgs, Olivier Latry, William Porter, Joris Verdin, and Harald Vogel. The Schola has been a favorite of festivals and concert series, notably at the annual international Eastman-Rochester Organ Initiative.  APM’s Pipe Dreams, Minnesota Public Radio, and WXXI’s With Heart and Voice regularly broadcast tracks, via NPR, from the Schola’s CDs. With organists Edoardo Bellotti and Stephen Kennedy, the Schola and dual organs performed a “guided improvisation” accompaniment to Carl Dryer’s 1928 silent classic La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc for Eastman’s 2014 EROI Festival and the University of Rochester’s interdisciplinary UCIS Cluster on Music and Film.  The Schola’s latest CD is of 19th century French choral music with Belgian keyboardist Joris Verdin on Eastman’s vintage Mustel harmonium. The Schola is comprised of Rochester-area musicians, Eastman School of Music faculty and students, and RIT faculty. Participation in the Schola is offered for course credit at the Eastman School of Music.

Rehearsals are Sundays 7:30 – 8:45 P.M., with Compline following at 9:00 – 9:30 P.M.  Schola Cantorum may be taken as a one-credit course.

Schola Members 

Stephen Kennedy, director

Thatcher Lyman, assistant director

Christopher Huebner, assistant and librarian

  • Glenna Curren (& cello)
  • Katie Harmer
  • Käthe Kaufman
  • Sarah McConnell
  • Amanda Mole
  • Mary Mowers
  • Melissa Palfey
  • Liza Sommers (& violin)
  • Amy Steinberg

  • Ben David Aronson (sackbut)
  • Sarah Johnson
  • James Kealy (& bass)
  • Professor Honey Meconi
  • Tim Ren
  • Lydia Worboys

  • Luke Brennon
  • Benjamin Henderson
  • Isaac Hutton
  • Thatcher Lyman
  • Malcolm Matthews (& organ)
  • Jordan Moore (sackbut & tenor)
  • Dale Nickell
  • Chris Petit
  • Trevor Scott
  • Alden Wright
  • Russell West          
  • Haotian Yu (& Bass)

  • Mark Ballard
  • Oliver Brett (organ)
  • Dillon Downey (Bass sackbut)
  • Isaac Drewes (& ten II)
  • Joshua Ehlebracht
  • Jonathan Falk
  • Noah Fields (& viola)
  • John Kirkpatrick
  • David Marshall (& ten II)
  • Professor Michael Ruhling
  • Peter Schoellkopff
  • Henry Webb (& Bass)
  • Yan Yue 

  • Aika Ito (Violin)
  • Liza Sommers (violin)
  • Noah Fields (viola)
  • Glenna Curren (cello)
  • Jared Wallis (cornetto)
  • Ben David (sackbut instructor: Bass, Tenor, Alto sackbut)
  • Steven Zugelder (Tenor sackbut)
  • Jordan Moore (Tenor sackbut)
  • Dillon Downey (Bass sackbut)
  • Oliver Brett (organ)
  • Malcolm Matthews (organ)
  • James Kealy (organ)

Schola Compline

COMPLINE is sung by the Schola on Sunday evenings (October through April) at 9:00 P.M. at Christ Church, 141 East Avenue. Repertoire includes Gregorian Chant, and motets by Byrd, Gibbons, Lassus, Monteverdi, Palestrina, Parsons, Sheppard, Tallis, Tavener, Pärt and other notable composers.

ORGAN PRELUDES are played by Eastman faculty and students preceding Compline on all but the first Sunday of the month (information on Candlelight Concerts below).

Schola Reviews:

“The Christ Church Schola Cantorum… sings beautifully.” Fanfare Magazine, Jan/Feb 2010, Colin Clarke.

“The recording is beautiful and I am glad to have been introduced to the Schola Cantorum and the work of Stephen Kennedy. The CD has been a joy to listen to…..terrific sound, wonderfully balanced with perfect pacing!” May 7, 2008, Steve Staruch, Host/Cultural Programming, Minnesota Public Radio

“It’s a triumph!… clearly a total success… the blending of voices results in a superb sonority. “Verleih uns Frieden” – Utterly serene and the perfect conclusion.” Wm. A. Little

“I was also invited to attend Compline last night which was probably one of the most moving experiences in my life. I’ve attended a few Compline services, but none were as rewarding as yours…. They (the Schola) were exquisite!” April 14, 2008, Dr. Craig Scott Symons, Director of Music/Organist, First United Methodist Church, Royal Oak, MI

Schola Recordings:

New: A Sunday in Paris


Featuring the Christ Church Schola Cantorum, Stephen Kennedy director and Joris Verdin, Harmonium

Musical life in 19th -century France was both rich and diverse. Each social context had its own music, instruments and musical forms. Some of this music survives today in the symphonic and chamber music repertoire, and also the opera and ballet. Other forms have all but disappeared: military music, folk, dance, cabaret, the “salon” repertoire, and a great deal of sacred music.

This recording is the first of selected choral works by well-known composers in the their original version with harmonium accompaniment. The music is presented as it was played in a French Catholic circle on a Sunday, the day of rest after a long week of work, when people dressed in their ‘Sunday best’ and had special lunches and dinners, and visited family or friends. Strong state support for Catholicism under the reign of Napoléon III allowed churches to purchase magnificent furniture, art, and musical instruments. Schools, monasteries, and chapels acquired similar high-quality equipment, though on a smaller scale. The flexibility of the harmonium often made it preferable to a small organ, which explains the great number of sacred pieces written for voices with harmonium or organ accompaniment—but always playable on the harmonium. A typical example is Gounod’s mass “for the chapels”. The Ordinary of the mass, Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus- Benedictus, Agnus Dei, were composed as a whole. The other main moments like “Introït,” “Graduel”, and occasionally “Alleluia”, “Offertoire,” “Élévation,” and “Communion”, were either performed as “Plain Chant” (Gregorian Chant), sung in a polyphonic setting, or played by the organist. The first and last pieces of the mass, the “Entrée” and “Sortie”, were generally for organ.

2004 Schola Debut Album Cover

The Schola’s 2004 debut recording has been re-issued for sale through Christ Church

Proceeds benefit Christ Church. Originally distributed by Gothic Records, this recording has garnered considerable critical acclaim.  It features anthems and selections of service music from the Office of Compline as sung at Christ Church.

Ave Maria, Robert Parsons

Duo Seraphim,  Jacob Händl

Ave Regina Caelorum, plainsong w/improvised organum

Justorum animae, Orlando di Lasso

Purge Me, O Lord, Thomas Tallis

In manus tuas (Compline Responsory,) Thomas Tallis

Te lucis ante terminum (Festal Tone,) Thomas Tallis

Salve Regina, plainsong w/improvised organum

Te lucis ante terminum (Ferial Tone,) Thomas Tallis 

Sicut cervus, Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina

Crucifixus, Antonio Lotti

Deo gratias, William Byrd

O Saving Victim, Zack Wadsworth

Novum Pascha, Stephen Kennedy

Song for Athene, Sir John Tavener

“The recording is beautiful and I am glad to have been introduced to the Schola Cantorum and the work of Stephen Kennedy.

The CD has been a joy to listen to…..terrific sound, wonderfully balanced with perfect pacing!”

Steve Staruch, Host/Cultural Programming, Minnesota Public Radio.

David Conte - Music for Chorus and Organ

David Conte: Music for Chorus and Organ

This exquisite recording was made at the request of the composer. Performances are by: the Christ Church Schola Cantorum, Stephen Kennedy, conductor; David Higgs, organ; Kathleen Bride, harp; Rochester Philharmonic Brass: Douglas Prosser & Wesley Nance, trumpet Mark Kellogg & Mark Salatino, trombone.

Ave Maria

O magnum mysterium

The Snow Lay on the Ground

Meditation on Silent Night for Solo Organ

O Salutaris Hostia

Tantum ergo

Nunc dimittis


Recollection (Soliloquy II) for Solo Organ

Prayer of Saint Theresa

Psalm 121


Antiphon for Brass Quartet and Organ

Soliloquy for Solo Organ

Mendelssohn Rarities

“Mendelsson Rarities” is a collection of exquisitely crafted and rarely performed organ and choral music from the great prodigy of the early 19th century. The Christ Church Schola Cantorum, directed by Stephen Kennedy, sings both introspective and dramatic choral works that reveal Mendelssohn’s lineage to the contrapuntal tradition of the great masters such as Palestrina and J.S. Bach.

Mendelssohn’s organ works are illuminated by the captivating sounds of Eastman’s Craighead-Saunders reconstructed baroque pipe organ at Christ Church.  This organ sings with lively and evocative sounds that would have been familiar to the composer. Solo organ works are performed by faculty David Higgs, Hans Davidsson, William Porter, and Stephen Kennedy, as well as several current organ students and recent alumni. Liner notes by Eastman’s former Visiting Professor of Musicology, Wm. A. Little.

MWV W44 Allegro moderato maestoso (March) in C major

MWV W15 Andante con moto in G minor

MWV W28 Praeludium in C minor

Op. 79: Spruch No. 
5. Im Advent, MWV B54 Sechs Sprche

Op. 79: Spruch No. 1. Weihnachten, MWV B42 Sechs Sprche

Op. 79: Spruch No. 2. Am Neujahrstage, MWV B44 Sechs Sprche

Op. 79: Spruch No. 4. In der Passionszeit, MWV B50 Sechs Sprche

Op. 79: Spruch No. 6. Am Charfreitage, MWV B52 Sechs Sprche

Op. 79: Spruch No. 3. Am Himmelfahrstage, MWV B55 Sechs Sprche

MWV W2 Praeludium in D minor

MWV W47 Allegro in B flat major

MWV W30 Andante in F major

MWV W32 Andante (with Variations) in D major

MWV B20: 1. Choral. Aus tiefer Noth Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (Op. 23. No.1)

MWV B20: 2. Fuga. Aus tiefer Noth Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (Op. 23. No.1)

MWV B20: 3. Aria. Bei dir gilt nichts den Gnad und Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (Op. 23. No.1)

MWV B20: 4. Choral. Und ob es währt bis in die Nac Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (Op. 23. No.1)

MWV B20: 5. Choral. Ob bei uns ist der Sânden viel Aus tiefer Noth schrei ich zu dir (Op. 23. No.1)

MWV W12 Nachspiel in D major

Sanft in D major, MWV W6 Andante

MWV W33 Allegro (Choral and Fugue) in D minor/major 
22. MWV A11 Verleih uns Frieden

“It’s a triumph!… clearly a total success… the blending of voices results in a superb sonority. “Verleih uns Frieden” – Utterly serene and the perfect conclusion.” Wm. A. Little

Candlelight Concerts


Concerts preceding Compline on the first Sunday of the month.  A reception follows Compline on these first Sundays. Click here for more information.


Schola Links

Christ Church website – Schola Cantorum

Schola Cantorum Face Book