When I arrived at Trinity Cathedral in Sacramento in 1984, one of the things I heard from many other musicians in the Diocese, was that they had never been invited to the Cathedral. There was generally a strong feeling of disconnect from the Cathedral around the Diocese as it was, so I wanted to figure a way to fix that.
So the Annual Diocesan Choir Festival was born. My aim was twofold: to give musicians from around the Diocese a chance to visit and sing at the Cathedral; and to give them the opportunity to sing the beautiful office of Choral Evensong, which was literally not being sung anywhere in the Diocese (as far as I could tell). The format was simple: we would have a distinguished guest conductor, with an all day rehearsal culminating with Choral Evensong.
The first year, I enlisted my friend Dr John Fenstermaker, who was Canon for Music at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco as our guest conductor. About sixty singers from the around the Diocese joined us for the day, and it was a great success. Everyone in attendance was enthusiastic that this should become an annual event.
And so it was. Some years we had in excess of one-hundred singers crammed into the small chancel of Trinity Cathedral! We had some of the best Anglican choral conductors in the world as our guests including Martin How, Michael Fleming, Douglas Major, Peter Hallock, Robert Simpson, Katherine Dienes-Williams, Jeffrey Benson, David Flood, James Walker, David Dunnett, Timothy Byram-Wigfield, Maxine Thevenot, and many more. We have sung some of the greatest music in the choral repertoire, and enjoyed singing Evensong together.
However, after thirty plus years, the festival seems to have run its course. The choir has gotten smaller over the years, and it has become much more challenging to produce from a financial standpoint. So… we will be hosting our Final Diocesan Choir Festival on Saturday, January 26th, 2019. Our guest conductor will be my good friend Dr David Flood, who is organist and master of choristers at Canterbury Cathedral. David has conducted our festival on two prior occasions, and his superb musicianship and good humor promises an exceptional day of singing.
I would like to invite any choir singers, Episcopalian or not, to join us for this special day. If you are interested, please feel to drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org. More information will be available in the Fall, but in the mean time, mark your calendars! We hope to see you here in January.