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 (2013) and conductor of the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble, a professional chamber choir. Additionally, in 2016 he became Editor of the historic music publishing imprint, H.W. Gray. Nationally and internationally Mr. Helvey is in frequent demand as a composer, conductor, and speaker. 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, H.W. Gray, 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), St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City, Rome, Italy), St. Patrick’s Cathedral (NYC), St. Patrick’s Cathedral (Dublin, Ireland), the American Cathedral (Paris, France), Roy Thompson Hall (Toronto), the White House, the National Cathedral (Washington, D.C.), Westminster Abbey (London, England), Bath Abbey (England), 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, Reference, Regent (UK), Spektral (Germany), and Suisa (Switzerland) record labels. In 2021, Beckenhorst Press released the album In That Bright Land: Choral Music of Howard Helvey (available on all major digital audio platforms) featuring studio recordings of twenty-six selected works. And in 2020, Beckenhorst Press released Transformations: Ten Piano Solos Based on Timeless Hymn Tunes (available as a CD and on all major digital audio platforms) featuring Mr. Helvey performing the contents of his piano book by the same title.
Mr. Helvey is commissioned frequently by church, university, and professional ensembles, and recent highlights include performances of his music by the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, the Choirs of King’s College and Selwyn College (Cambridge, England), the BBC Singers, the Paris Choral Society (France), the Philippine Madrigal Singers, the National Lutheran Choir, the United States Air Force Singing Sergeants, the Phoenix Chorale, the Salt Lake Choral Artists, True Concord, the Kansas City Chorale, the Cincinnati Fusion Ensemble, the Atlanta Master Chorale, Conspirare (Austin), the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, The Crossing (Philadelphia), the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, Chicago a cappella, the Turtle Creek Chorale (Dallas), the Choirs of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine (New York), the Choirs of the Cathedral of St. Philip (Atlanta), 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 Madrid, Pro Musica (Copenhagen, Denmark), Melting Vox (Belgium) — and by university/collegiate choirs from Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Concordia, Luther, Brigham Young, Texas A&M, the University of Georgia, the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Westminster Choir College. Anthems and motets by Mr. Helvey have recently been featured in the United Kingdom cathedrals of Canterbury, St. Paul’s (London), Chichester, Lincoln, Durham, Worcester, Salisbury, Ely, Southwark, St. Albans, Liverpool, Exeter, Christ Church (Oxford), York, Hereford, Norwich, Bristol, Chester, Wells, Portsmouth, Winchester, Coventry, and St. Giles’ (Edinburgh). 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. In 2018, Mr. Helvey was the winner of the inaugural Sewanee Church Music Conference Choral Composition Prize. On March 15, 2020, he was to make his Carnegie Hall debut conducting a program of his choral music, but, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the concert was postponed to a later date.
As a pianist, Mr. Helvey collaborated 1997-2012 with distinguished artist Richard Steinbach in concerts and recordings of four-hand and two-piano literature. Performance highlights 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 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.
With cognate studies in conducting, voice, organ, and poetry, 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. Additionally, he is a Fellow of (Alice Parker’s) Melodious Accord.
Other ongoing interests include reading, photography, animals/pets, fitness, pinball, railroad history, genealogy, 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.