Chapel of the Cross calls new Music Director and Organist

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Joe Causby will join staff in August 2018


Joe Causby, a native of North Carolina and current organist and choirmaster at St. Mark’s, San Antonio, has accepted the call to serve as the next music director and organist at the Chapel of the Cross.

A highly talented musician who believes in the power of collaboration and inclusivity, Joe has built one of the most active music programs in the country at St. Mark’s, working with the Choral Society of San Antonio, the Children’s Chorus of San Antonio, the Youth Orchestras of San Antonio, Trinity University, and Montessori Schools.

His choirs—more than 120 strong—participate in the Royal School of Church Music training curriculum and have served residencies in England at Exeter Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, and St. Alban’s Abbey.

“I am thrilled to have Joe joining our ministerial team at the parish,” said Rector Elizabeth Marie Melchionna.  “He is a leader who, through the tool of music that glorifies God, seeks to form faithful disciples of Jesus.  Joe has also used music as a tool for evangelism and I am excited for the ways in which we will reach into and collaborate with our community musically.”

When Joe arrived at St. Mark’s in 2011, there were about 30 adults and 25 children in the parish choirs.  He set about building a program through collaboration with the university, the symphony, and the opera.  But the pivotal moment, according to Joe, was the taping of A Festival of Lessons and Carols for broadcast on Texas public television.

“We had to pay for it, and we weren’t really ready for it, but we seized the moment,” Joe said.  “Once the service was televised, it brought us new, better, and younger singers who saw that we were open and inclusive to all people.”

Preparing for the broadcast helped raise the bar for his choirs and challenged the singers in a good way.  Children flocked to the program, and their parents joined the church.  The choirs grew to 70 adults and 50 children.

Joe grew up in Morganton and holds a bachelor of music from Appalachian and his master’s degree from Rice University.  He was the first American Organ Scholar at Durham Cathedral, in Durham, England, where he received his PhD.

Prior to his tenure at St. Mark’s, Joe served as organist and choirmaster at Trinity Church, Houston.

He is quite happy to be returning to North Carolina.  When he arrived at RDU for his interview at Chapel of the Cross, he says he knew when he got off the plane that he was home.

What attracted him to COTC besides its location in his home state? “The church and university relationship, the musical legacy of Van Quinn, the parish’s history, and its leadership on social justice issues,” said Joe.

“There is excitement in the building,” he added.  “Elizabeth Marie and I clicked instantly—I felt like I had known her forever after the first 10 minutes.”

Joe will be coming to Chapel Hill mid-summer, in time for an August 6 start date.  Joe’s husband, Bob Brewer, will follow with pugs Aggie and Lily and cat, Angel.  Bob, who is an organist, conductor, and professor of music, is also very pleased to be coming to Chapel Hill.

“We had many strong applications for our position, but Joe Causby quickly rose to the top, a status that was confirmed at every step of the process, said search committee chair James Moeser.  “Joe is a superb musician, a person of spiritual depth, and a wonderful human being. I am confident that our people will love him.”