Course Faculty

Canon Michael McCarthy was appointed director of music in 2003. He oversees the Cathedral’s expanding music program, as well as serves as principal choirmaster. A native of the U.K., he is a graduate of Guildhall School of Music and Drama and has worked with professional choirs including the Sixteen, the Gabrieli Consort and the Monteverdi Choir. McCarthy was the founder and director of the London Oratory School Schola. He directed the Schola in recordings for films including Sleepy Hollow, The Lord of the Rings cycle and the Harry Potter series. 

Thomas Sheehan is the organist and associate director of music at Washington National Cathedral. A graduate of Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, and the Curtis Institute of Music, Tom is currently a doctoral candidate (ABD) in organ at Boston University. He has performed around the United States and internationally, including performances in Canada, France and Iceland.

Laura Choi Stuart has appeared on the mainstage with Boston Lyric Opera, Opera Boston, Annapolis Opera, Lake George Opera, the In Series and Opera North in roles including Musetta, Adina, Gilda, Pamina and Frasquita. Stuart appears regularly as a soloist and ensemble member with the Washington Bach Consort and the Washington Master Chorale. She received her training at the Santa Fe Opera Apprentice Program for Singers, Opera North and Berkshire Opera, as well as the New England Conservatory and Dartmouth College. As a dedicated teacher, she works with the Cathedral choristers, maintains a private voice studio.

George Fergus serves as the assistant organist at Washington National Cathedral. Fergus earned his Master of Music in organ performance with a Certificate in Church Music Studies from the Yale Institute of Sacred Music, and his Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College. He was awarded the Gerre Hancock Fellowship in Church Music by the Association of Anglican Musicians, which he served at Washington National Cathedral before being appointed to its full-time music staff.

Elissa Edwards is a specialist in 17th- and 18th-century vocal repertoire and pedagogy. A celebrated international soloist and scholar, she is the artistic director of the Élan Ensemble, and serves on the voice faculty of the Cathedral and formerly The Peabody Institute of The Johns Hopkins University. Recent honors include grants and awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Maryland State Arts Council, Society for American Music and the Winterthur Museum and Library. She is a graduate of Boston University and the University of York, U.K. with additional studies at the Royal College of Music in London.



Participants are taught by our renowned, knowledgeable faculty and guest lecturers who are passionate about sharing their expertise and facilitating discussions.

  • The Importance of Vocal Health
    Sing healthy, sing well
  • Authentic Performance
     Exploring stylistic singing across the centuries
  • Leaders of Tomorrow
     Providing our children with the best tools of success
  • Our Common Purpose: The Journey of a Church Musician
     Q & A with Canon McCarthy

Dinner & Discussion

The Cathedral encourages interdisciplinary discussions between staff faculty, clergy and participants on topics that lead to a greater depth of thinking and sophistication in work. The evening roundtable plays a central role in our discussion-based approach to learning. A faculty member or guest proposes an opening question inspired by the assigned topic, and the discussion is launched.

Discussion topics:

  • What is Leadership?
      Managing a successful program
  • Singing for All
      Rendering a healthy sound at any age
  • The Thriving Music Program
      Recruitment, marketing and attracting new singers
  • Clergy and the Choirmaster
      Cultivating supportive relationships in the workplace