The Sacred Choral Music Festival celebrates our rich and broad musical heritage and serves to uplift new music. Led by Canon Michael McCarthy and the Cathedral music staff, the Festival invites adults and young musicians to participate in worship in the magnificent setting of the National Cathedral.

Join the King’s Singers and the Washington National Cathedral Choirs as they showcase and present the highly anticipated New Music Prize and celebrate the beauty, breadth, and power of sacred music at the 2021 Sacred Choral Music Festival.

We are honored to celebrate the life and legacy of one of the primary custodians of the Cathedral’s music program, Richard Wayne Dirksen.

Choose Your Registration Level

Full Festival Registration

Friday, Feb. 26–Sunday, Feb. 28

Experience the full array of Sacred Choral Music Festival offerings! Highlights include participation in worship services, virtual choir collaboration with the King’s Singers, rehearsals, masterclasses, workshops, and presentations geared toward trebles, adult singers, liturgical and music directors, and organists.

Registration includes King’s Singers concert and Dirksen Centenary Celebration.  

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Richard Wayne Dirksen Centenary Celebration

Friday, Feb. 26 • 7–9 pm est

Join our celebration of Richard Wayne Dirksen’s legacy of brilliant music-making and artistic innovation at Washington National Cathedral. Featuring keynote lectures, current and archival performances, and a virtual reception and panel discussion.

Advance registration required. This event is included in the full festival registrations.

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King's Singers New Music Prize Online Concert

Sunday, Feb. 28 • 4 pm est

Grab your ticket to watch the world premiere performance of the four winning compositions of the King’s Singers New Music Composition Prize. The winning compositions will be performed by the King’s Singers and the Washington National Cathedral Choir.

Advance registration required. This event is included in the full festival registrations.

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Festival Highlights

Workshops & Masterclasses

The festival weekend includes opportunities for rehearsals, performances, workshops, lectures, discussions, fellowship, and our national worship service broadcast. Singers, directors, organists, and clergy are welcome to register now!

The Cathedral Choral Experience 

•  Junior and Senior Choristers
•  Adult Singers (Sopranos, Altos, Tenors, and Basses) 

Stewarding & Transforming our Tradition

•  Liturgical Music for Directors & Organists
•  Liturgical Music for Clergy

Join the King’s Singers in our Festival Virtual Choir

In advance of the festival weekend, participants can help collaborate with a virtual choir recording that will be released as part of Washington National Cathedral’s blended worship service on February 28. After registering, participants will receive instructions on what to sing and how to submit your recording. The deadline for submissions is February 15, so register for the festival now!

Enjoy this “virtual choir” performance by the King’s Singers of Thomas Tallis’ If ye love me:

The King’s Singers New Music Prize Concert

Sunday, February 28 • 4 pm est

Throughout history, music has provided hope and healing at some of societies’ most challenging times. In 2020, The King’s Singers New Music Prize was launched to recognize, develop, and encourage a spirit of musical creativity in today’s world.

Four finalists representing the four categories were selected by a distinguished panel of judges. The Cathedral is honored to host the world premiere performances of these winning compositions.

Festival registrants will have access to view the concert, performed by the King’s Singers and the Washington National Cathedral choir. Those who want to watch the concert only can register here.

Centenary Celebration of Richard Wayne Dirksen

Friday, February 26 • 7 pm est

Celebrate one of the most visionary musicians of the Episcopal Church, Richard Wayne Dirksen (1921–2003), whose Washington National Cathedral legacy stretched 49 years. Best remembered for hymn tunes included in The Hymnal 1982, Dirksen’s compositional output was especially creative, wide-ranging and genre-crossing.

Our celebration event includes:

•  Recent and archival recordings of his music (performed by Thomas Sheehan, Mark Dirksen, the Cathedral Choir, Heather Adelsberger, and more), including the final movement of Dirksen’s masterpiece Solo for Organ, Fanfare for T. S. Eliot, excerpts from his operettas written for the Cathedral schools, excerpts from his large-scale orchestra and choir oratorios, and further chamber music

A keynote lecture by Neal Campbell about Dirksen’s life

A second keynote lecture by Thomas Sheehan and George Steel (who grew up in the choir of the Cathedral during Dirksen’s tenure) about Dirksen’s musical style

Festival registrants will have access to the online celebration. Those who want to access the celebration only can register here.

Full Festival Guide

Download our full guide, including schedules, workshop offerings, choral repertoire, and faculty.

download guide


For questions about the festival, please contact Brian Glosh.