When Andrew Kreigh told his colleagues he had been offered a job as director of sacred music for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, they reacted without hesitation.
“It was, ‘It’s been great. Nice knowing you,’” Kreigh said with a grin. “Their reaction was, ‘you’re taking this … this isn’t really an option.’ As a musician, I knew of my predecessors and the reputation of the music program in this archdiocese and at this cathedral. St. Louis is a very Catholic city, and a very traditional city, which makes it unique. That is one of the many feathers in the cap that is St. Louis.”
Kreigh was named in June as director of sacred music for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. He is the fifth director of music in the cathedral basilica’s 107-year history.
Kreigh comes from the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, where he served for three years as director of music for the diocese, as well as two other parishes. During his time in Madison, he directed four vocal ensembles, including the diocesan Schola Cantorum, Diocesan Choir, the two parish choirs and was principal organist.
He holds a master’s degree in organ performance and Church music from the University of Iowa and has a bachelor of music with an emphasis on music business and piano performance from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. Kreigh also served as assistant organist in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and in Hartford, Connecticut.
The biggest part of Kreigh’s vision is focused on the liturgy. Music, he said, assists in creating a prayerful environment for the faithful who worship at Mass.
“The most important part of my job is playing for Mass,” Kreigh said. “My mentor said it best: When you’re at the organ during Holy Mass, you’re not playing and you’re not performing. You are praying, because you’re Catholic first and musician second.”
Kreigh notices a difference in sacred music within the liturgy compared to a musical performance. “Everything you’re doing is to create a prayerful environment,” he said. “There are times in the Mass where it is grand, and we are praising the Lord and it’s triumphant. And there are times where we’re just a little more reserved and humble. There are those ebbs and flows within the liturgy, and the music’s job is only to support that, not take over it.”
In his new role in St. Louis, Kreigh will be tasked with rebuilding the Archdiocesan Choir, Cathedral Schola Cantorum and Cathedral Choir, all of which have declined in membership during the pandemic. Auditions will be held in early August. (See related.)
“We are in rebuilding mode due to Covid,” he recalled from a discussion about a year ago in Madison, where a similar effort was made to rebuild the music program there. “You have to build it back, but we all need to go back to day one.”
The three choirs at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis have a mixture of professionals and other volunteer vocalists, all of whom are considered a family, Kreigh stressed.
“We want to bring back that vibrancy that we previously had with these choirs,” he said. “I’ve learned that the best directors get to know their people — they can’t be too overly focused on being task-oriented. The people are where it all starts.”
>> Choir auditions
Auditions for the Archdiocesan Choir, Cathedral Choir and the Cathedral Schola Cantorum will take place in August. Auditions will be held from 6-9 p.m. in the St. Cecilia Chapel of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis on Aug. 2, 3, 16 and 17. Rehearsals will begin Sept. 6 and 7.
The Cathedral Choir sings regularly at the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass and various solemnities and celebrations. The choir is a mix of professional singers and volunteers and is open to anyone who can make a commitment to weekly rehearsals from Wednesdays 7-9 p.m. at the cathedral basilica and the service schedule. An audition is required.
The Cathedral Schola Cantorum is composed of select members from the Cathedral Choir, and membership is by audition only. The schola is dedicated to Church music from the 16th and 17th centuries and Gregorian chant. Rehearsals are Wednesdays from 7-9 p.m. at the cathedral basilica.
The Archdiocesan Choir sings for major archdiocesan celebrations and some concerts. Rehearsals are held on Tuesdays from 7-9 p.m. at the cathedral basilica. A simple audition is required. Music directors, cantors and choir members from archdiocesan parishes are considered for participation in this choir, and includes members of the Cathedral Choir.
For audition information and guidelines and to sign up for an audition slot, see cathedralstl.org/about-basilica/music or call (314) 373-8227.
History of music directors for the Archdiocese/Cathedral
• William Theodore Diebels, 1915-40
• Dr. Mario Salvador, 1940-92
• Dr. John Romeri, 1992-2010
• Dr. Horst Buchholz, 2010-21
• Andrew Kreigh, 2022-present