Program Staff 2017-02-01T04:32:32+00:00

Program Staff

Daryl Bichel, MM
Daryl Bichel, MMFounder and Artistic Director, Night Song
Daryl Bichel received the BA degree in music from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and holds Master of Music degrees from the New England Conservatory in performance of early music and in organ performance. He has served on the Board of Directors for Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, Capella Clausura and the Old West Organ Society. Throughout his career he has been an active member of the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, having served on the Executive Committee in many capacities, and currently is treasurer. His sacred music posts have included Lutheran churches, Episcopal parishes, an Episcopal cathedral and an Episcopal monastic community.

Bichel is very interested in singing and the choral art, and sang for many years with the choir of men and boys at The Parish of All Saints – Ashmont in Dorchester. He currently sings for Night Song and with The Seraphim Singers, serving as President of the Board of Directors. He also has an active career as a substitute church musician, which sometimes involves working with choirs.

Bichel is responsible for conceiving Night Song, described several years ago as unique in the entire country by a graduate student surveying compline liturgies. It is partially inspired by compline at St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle, a tradition that extends beyond 50 years duration. Night Song is a direct reflection of Bichel’s affinity for Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, jazz and art. It also employs elements of Anglo-Catholic liturgy, such as chant, incense and icons. Beyond that, it provides an opportunity for him to use his skills as a composer. He has arranged two compline settings and composed four other settings, all used regularly at Night Song. These are all used regularly at Night Song. He also has written hymns and psalm settings for Night Song.

Ben Schwendener
Ben SchwendenerDirector, Night Song Instrumental Component
Composer / pianist Ben Schwendener sustains a unique voice in contemporary creative music and is a leading authority on George Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, which he assisted Russell in teaching at NEC from 1986 to 2004. After Russell’s retirement, he has continued to teach the LCC at NEC to this day.  Schwendener has helped to establish a new direction in natural pedagogy and dialogue-based arts education, using Organic Music Theory and Universal Musical Elements as primary creative sources.

He has created music for small and large ensembles, dance companies, film, video and art installations, written volumes of piano music for children of all ages, and performs frequently with ensembles and on solo piano throughout the U.S., Europe and Japan. The Mobile Trio, his most recent group he established, includes Kenwood Dennard (drums) and Marc Friedman (bass), and tours and records frequently.

He is founder and director of Gravity Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing customized educational services and products for individuals, groups and corporations. Schwendener has been in collaboration with Swiss choreographer Angelo Dello Iacono since 2012. The Mobile Trio and Iacono’s dance company ADN Dialect have created the international cultural exchange project No Plan B, an experimental jazz scenic event and most recently Zeitzone.

Schwendener has released nine recordings as leader / co-leader on Gravity Records (an independent label he co-founded in 1992), and is also heard on Label Bleu and Alabaster.  Recent releases include ‘Upward Mobility’ (The Mobile Trio, 2015),  ‘Apfelschaun-New Episode‘ (2011) with Uwe Steinmetz and the two CD ‘Industrial Folk Music’ (2011), featuring long time collaborators Bridget Kearney and Michael Calabrese, Bhob Rainey, Eric Lane, and Gregg Ramsey.

Ben was (from 1986 on) an editorial assistant to the late George Russell, and is a certified teacher (and while Russell was alive, of teachers) of the Lydian Chromatic Concept. He has given lectures, workshops and seminars at Universities around the USA and at institutions around the world. Former teachers also include Ran Blake, Jimmy Guiffre, Miroslav Vitous, Joe Maneri and Andrew Hill.

Presently living in Boston, Schwendener is on the faculty at the New England Conservatory and the Longy School of Music of Bard College. He has also designed a class for non-musicians based on the inter-discipline correspondences of Organic Music Theory which he has taught since 2001 for the Creative and Critical Thinking Department in the Graduate College of Education at UMass Boston.

Louis A. Verdelotti
Louis A. VerdelottiThurifier
A native of Providence, RI, Louis A. Verdelotti retired in 2006 after having served professionally as a chef and, later, as a Certified Nurse Assistant for the Visiting Nurse Association and Butler Hospital. He and his husband live in Providence. They have been together for 18 years. As a young man Louis took vows as a Tertiary in the Order of St. Francis.

Currently, he serves on the altar at S. Stephen’s Church, Providence, as Thurifer, Crucifer, and Torch. He also serves on the Church Vestry. He is a member of the Legion of Mary, Guild of All Souls, and Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament.

James Busby, DMus
James Busby, DMusDirector, Beneficia lucis (Men's Schola)
James Busby, a familiar figure in the musical life of New England, is in demand as vocal coach, organist and collaborative pianist throughout the Northeast. “James Busby played with skill and conviction,” “the real illuminations came from Busby’s insightful and elegant playing.” writes Boston Globe’s Richard Dyer. “..the most vivid work came from James Busby, elegant at the piano…Busby…played like a French angel” states Lloyd Schwartz of the Boston Phoenix. “James Busby’s contributions were digitally capable and so straightforward in the interpretation department that it came as a sheer revelation to the reviewer” according to Richard Buell of the Boston Globe.

A native of Jackonville, Florida, and an alumnus of New England Conservatory, James Busby has been awarded the degree of Doctor of Music by Nashotah House Theological Seminary for “faithful commitment to excellence in sacred music”. He studied piano with Julius Chaloff and Kyriena Siloti and organ with Robert Lee Hutchinson, Jr., George Faxon and Max Miller, and was mentored in church music and conducting by John Cook.

He is organist and choirmaster of S. Stephen’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island, located in the heart of the Brown University Campus, where he conducts the professional Schola Cantorum and is completing twenty-four years of service. Dr. Busby has led Beneficia Lucis at National Convention of The American Guild of Organists, and Boston Early Music Festival Fringe Concert of Gesualdo and Gesualdo-Stravinsky in addition to regular Sunday Nightsongs.

Sister Kristina Frances
Sister Kristina FrancesDirector, Vox equalis (women's schola)
Patricia Van Ness
Patricia Van NessComposer
Composer, violinist, and poet Patricia Van Ness draws upon elements of medieval and Renaissance music to create a signature voice that has been hailed by musicians, audiences, and critics. She has been called a modern-day Hildegard von Bingen 1,2, with her ability to compose music “ecstatic and ethereal,” “both ancient and new” 2,3. As in medieval aesthetics, her music and poetry explore the relationship between beauty and the Divine.

Patricia Van Ness’s work has had an impact that is both local and global. She is Staff Composer for First Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Peter Sykes, Music Director) and has been an invited lecturer at Harvard University and Boston University. Her music has been commissioned, premiered, and performed by numerous musicians and organizations throughout the world, including The King’s Singers (UK), the Heidelberg New Music Festival Ensemble, Chanticleer, Mannerquartett Schnittpunktvokal (Austria), the Celebrity Series in Boston, the Spoleto Festival Orchestra, Peter Sykes, Coro Allegro, and the Harvard University Choir. Her work has been presented in Rome and Assisi in Italy; the Musica Sacra Festival in Maastricht, Holland; and in halls and cathedrals throughout Italy, Austria, Finland, Germany, Japan, Hong Kong, Puerto Rico, Sweden, Latin America, Canada, Latvia, Russia and the United States. She has been awarded residencies with the Boston Landmarks Orchestra and with Coro Allegro.

Ms. Van Ness has received numerous awards and grants, including the 2011 Daniel Pinkham Award from Coro Allegro (David Hodgkins, Artistic Director). Europe’s prestigious 2005 Echo Klassik Prize was awarded to the ensemble Tapestry (Laurie Monahan, Director) for their recording “Sapphire Night” with music by Hildegard von Bingen and and a nine-movement work by Patricia Van Ness, and Chamber Music America awarded “Album of the Year” to Tapestry’s The Fourth River, containing two of Van Ness’s works.

Ms. Van Ness is currently composing new music for each of the 150 Psalms, many of which Night Song has performed. The texts are in English and Latin using the Psalter and the Liber Usualis.