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.
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.
Grace Cathedral Choir Tour – England 2016
On July 15, Grace Cathedral’s Choir of Men and Boys departed for the ancient English city of Salisbury where they sang choral Evensong at the magnificent Salisbury Cathedral each evening for a week. They also sang a concert at Christchurch Priory in Bournemouth, a traditional seaside town.
The choir visited other great English cathedrals such as Gloucester, Wells and Winchester and take tours of Stratford, Bath, Oxford and historic Stonehenge, and sang Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral (one of the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England, originally founded in the year 597).
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.
The 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 calendar to see when the next organ concert will take place.
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.
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.
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.
The 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.