Mel Butler


  • Q & A with Mel Butler and Rachel Mahon: Working with Choirs and Choristers-an Organist's Perspective
    808 Howell St
    July 6 @ 11:00 am
    This will be an informal session that explores what choir training is like within Mahon's experience. Mahon has worked as an organist and choir trainer in the United Kingdom since 2013 at four cathedral institutions, each with slightly different training schemes for choirs. Some have dedicated choir schools, while others take choristers from a variety of schools. They have different schedules and vastly different amounts of time dedicated to singing each week. Mel will ask questions such as what is a typical rehearsal like? How do you recruit boys and girls and what are the arguments for keeping them separate? What provision is there for adults? How do you teach people to sight-read music? There will be the chance for you to ask your own questions too. The focus will be on children’s choirs, but with some overlap into adult choirs.

Mel Butler

Organist Mel Butler was Canon Musician of Saint Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral, Seattle, from 1992 until his retirement at the end of 2014. He is presently choirmaster/organist at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Renton, WA.    He taught organ improvisation and church music at the University of Washington, and as a professional violist, was Principal Guest Artist with the Onyx Chamber Players in Seattle.  Prior to his Saint Mark’s appointment, he was for many years Organist/Choirmaster of the Downtown Presbyterian Church in Rochester, NY.  During that time, he was also Associate Professor of Church Music at the Eastman School of Music, a violist with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, and Music Director of the Rochester Bach Festival Chorus.   During the Viet Nam War era, he served his country as violist in the U.S. Navy String Quartet.  Butler received his organ degrees from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Eastman School of Music.

Mel Butler has performed in major concert halls, churches, and cathedrals in the U.S., the U.K. and Japan.  He often presents master classes and lectures on various aspects of church music, choral conducting, hymn playing, and improvisation, and has appeared as a lecturer and recitalist for conventions of the AGO, the Organ Historical Society, the Westfield Center, and the Association of Anglican Musicians.  His organ and choral recordings appear on the Loft and Gothic labels.

In his semi-retirement, Mel enjoys playing viola (classical and bluegrass), harpsichord, and piano; and enjoys composing, cooking, gardening, and entertaining with his wife, Mary.