Biography

Howard Helvey

Howard Helvey

Howard Helvey (b. 1968) resides in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he is active as a composer, arranger and pianist, and serves as organist and choirmaster of historic Calvary Episcopal Church. He is also co-founder and conductor of the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble, a professional chamber choir. Nationally and internationally Mr. Helvey is in frequent demand as a composer, conductor, speaker, and member of the Steinbach/Helvey Piano Duo.

Known particularly for his choral music, Mr. Helvey maintains an extremely active writing schedule, and his hundreds of compositions and arrangements are published by Beckenhorst Press, Hinshaw Music, Oxford University Press, Boosey & Hawkes, Alliance Music, Lawson-Gould, E.C. Schirmer, MorningStar Music, Paraclete Press, and Roger Dean, among other companies. His compositions have been featured on numerous recordings, national television and radio broadcasts, in such eminent venues as New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Walt Disney Concert Hall (LA), Chicago’s Orchestra Hall, the Meyerson Symphony Center (Dallas), the White House, the National Cathedral (Washington, D.C.), the former Crystal Cathedral (Garden Grove, California), and many locations throughout Europe and Asia. In addition, his music is regularly performed at regional and national conventions of the American Choral Directors Association and other professional music organizations, and has been acclaimed as “engaging” (Choral Journal), “definitive” (Journal of the Association of Anglican Musicians), “magical” (The Hymn) and — in response to his occasional inclusion of jazz elements — “fun and certain to be of interest” (The Diapason). Recordings of his music appear on the Gothic, Innova, Pro Organo, Cedille, Regent (UK), Spektral (Germany), and Suisa (Switzerland) record labels. Mr. Helvey is commissioned frequently by church, university, and professional ensembles, and recent performance highlights have been presented by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Kansas City Chorale, the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble, Conspirare, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Chicago a cappella, the Turtle Creek Chorale (Dallas), the Choir of St. Ignatius Loyola (New York), the Choir of Trinity Wall Street (New York), the Saint Louis Chamber Chorus, Kammerchor Constant (Cologne, Germany), Officina Corale (Rome, Italy), molto cantabile (Lucerne, Switzerland), Coro Ricercare (Lisbon, Portugal), Coro de la Comunidad de MadridPro Musica (Copenhagen, Denmark), Melting Vox (Belgium) — and by university/collegiate choirs from Stanford, Harvard, Concordia, Luther, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. Anthems and motets by Mr. Helvey have recently become part of the venerable Choral Evensong services in the English cathedrals of Ely, Christ Church (Oxford), York, Hereford, Norwich, Chester and Wells.  He received international awards in 2002, 2003 and 2006 (as first prize winner) from the John Ness Beck Foundation, who annually recognizes outstanding achievement in choral composition.

As a pianist, Mr. Helvey since 1997 has collaborated with distinguished artist Richard Steinbach in concerts and recordings of four-hand and two-piano literature. Performance highlights have included concerts in dozens of cities throughout the United States, Canada and England, and — by invitation — as duo artists at the 2000 national meeting of the Music Teachers National Association convention in Minneapolis. Widening their exposure through television appearances in the United States and Canada, the Steinbach/Helvey Duo has offered its performances to a broad and diverse community. 2001 saw the international release of their critically-acclaimed debut CD recording Piano Duo which included the brilliant and rarely-performed masterwork Eight Variations on an Original Theme in A-flat Major by Franz Schubert. The Steinbach/Helvey Duo was formerly managed by Phillip Truckenbrod Concert Artists. Along with violinist Mari Thomas and cellist Susan Petersen, Mr. Helvey is also a founding member of the Hannaford Piano Trio.

A Missouri native, Mr. Helvey holds a Bachelor of Music degree in composition from the University of Missouri-Columbia and a Master of Music degree in composition and piano performance from the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music. Designated an undergraduate Chautauqua Scholar, he pursued additional studies in piano at New York’s Chautauqua Institution. Mr. Helvey has studied piano with Raymond Herbert, Jan Houser, Richard Morris and Dolores Gadevsky; and his composition teachers have included John Cheetham, Thomas McKenney, Darrell Handel and Frederick Bianchi. As one passionate about effective congregational hymn-singing, Mr. Helvey received additional training in hymn-accompanying and organ improvisation from Gerre Hancock.

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Other ongoing interests include reading, animals/pets, fitness, and exploring art and art history—particularly surrounding early 20th-century movements in American art such as The Eight (the precursor of the so-called Ashcan School), the Stieglitz 291 group, and the epic 1913 Armory Show in New York City.