Dr. James Savage is director of the Choir of Hope at Christ Our Hope Church at the Josephinum. Prior to this appointment, he served as Director of Music at Seattle’s St. James Cathedral from 1980 to 2015, where he turned a struggling program into one of the nation’s leading Cathedral music programs. When he began at St. James, he found a skeleton choir of only 17 voices. In the ensuing 35 years, he built a music program that includes a Cathedral choir of more than 60, a women’s Schola, the Jubilate! ensemble for young women and a fine Schola Cantorum (which continues a tradition begun in the 1920s). He established two children’s choirs, St. Cecilia and St. Gregory, which brought him an invitation to become a founding member of the North American Schola Cantorum Network. In addition to this wealth of musical resources, the Cathedral now hosts a number of resident ensembles that perform concerts and enrich liturgies throughout the year.
Savage studied musical liturgy as a Fulbright scholar in Stuttgart, Germany, researching performance practice of the 1763 Te Deum of Niccolò Jommelli. Upon his return to the United States, he earned his doctorate at the University of Washington, where he won respect as a conductor and a musical scholar. Savage has been a Distinguished Visiting Artist at the University of Washington. In 2002 Dr. Savage was named Pastoral Musician of the Year by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
To Savage’s credit is a long list of groundbreaking events, beginning with the presentation of the Ordo Virtutum of Hildegard of Bingen, early in his career at St. James, and including, most recently, the North American premiere of the Requiem by the Japanese composer Shigeaki Saegusa. These events, as well as his wildly popular Great Music for Great Cathedrals and New Year’s Eve concerts, remained popular fixtures in the Seattle music scene throughout his tenure and brought thousands of visitors to St. James.