Program Staff

Daryl Bichel, MM
Founder and Artistic Director, Night Song

Daryl Bichel received the BA degree in music from Augustana College 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 serves on the Board of Directors for Blue Heron Renaissance Choir, sits on the Executive Committee of the Boston Chapter of the American Guild of Organists and is a former member of the Board of Trustees for the Old West Organ Society. His sacred music posts have included Lutheran churches, Episcopal parishes, an Episcopal cathedral and an Episcopal monastic community. He is currently a member of the choir of men and boys at The Parish of All Saints - Ashmont in Dorchester. He also sings in the Seraphim Singers and works as a substitute organist. 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 his affinity for Gregorian chant, Renaissance polyphony, jazz and art. It also exhibits elements of his Anglo-Catholic faith. Beyond that, it provides an opportunity for him to employ his skills as a composer and singer.

James Busby, DMus
Director, 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 has completed twenty years of service.

Cristi Catt, MM
Director, Viriditas (Women's Schola)

Cristi Catt is a soloist and chamber musician who specializes in mixing world, early and contemporary music and has performed extensively throughout the US, Europe and in Latvia, Russia and Colombia SA. She has led numerous workshops and classes on medieval music. Grammophone Magazine writes “high soprano Cristi Catt has captured the spirit of Hildegard von Bingen with extraordinary insight,” She has served as music director for productions in Boston, Chicago and New York, and director/vocal coach for several productions of Hildegard von Bingen’s medieval drama Ordo Virtutem. Her interest in the meeting points between medieval and world traditions has led to research grants to Portugal and southern France. She is a founding member of the internationally renowned vocal ensemble Tapestry, winners of the Echo Klassik and Chamber Music American’s Recording of the Year. She has appeared with leading early and world music ensembles including Ensemble PAN, Revels, La Donne Musicale, Boston Camerata, Hourglass, Le Bon Vent, Balmus and Clash of Civilizations. Recordings include Angeli, Celestial Light, Song of Songs: Come into my Garden and Fourth River with Telarc International, Sapphire Night and Faces of a Woman with German Label MDG, Goodnight Marc Chagall with Canadian Label Epact and Carmina Burana with Erato. Ms. Catt teaches at the Longy School of Music of Bard College and as of summer 2013 serves on the faculty of New England Conservatory (Prep/Continuing Studies) as a vocal instructor in the Contemporary Improvisation Department. *Viriditas is an ancient Latin word that literally means greenness. Hildegard took this idea and expanded upon it in her work using the term to mean freshness, vitality, fertility and a metaphor for spiritual and physical health.

Ben Schwendener
Director, Night Song Instrumental Component

Pianist Ben Schwendener sustains a unique voice in contemporary creative music and natural pedagogy, and is a leading authority on George Russell's Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization. A lifelong student of music, Ben has learned and played with jazz legends George Russell, Ran Blake, Jimmy Guiffre, Miroslav Vitous, and Joe Maneri. As a critically acclaimed pianist/composer, he has created music for dance companies, film, commercials, and art installations. He has also written volumes of children's piano music, and toured extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan with his ensembles and as a piano soloist. His music can be heard on Gravity Records (an independent label he co-founded in 1992), Label Bleu, and Alabaster. His latest releases, both in 2011 - 'Apfelschaun-New Episode' (with Uwe Steinmetz) and his first solo release since 2005, the two CD 'Industrial Folk Music' - are receiving wide recognition. Schwendener was (from1986 on) an Editorial Assistant to the late George Russell. He is a certified teacher (and while George was alive, of teachers) of the Lydian Chromatic Concept. He is often invited to speak at national and international seminars. Schwendener lives and creates in Boston, and teaches at the New England Conservatory, the Longy School of Music, and the Rivers School Conservatory in Weston, MA. He also teaches classes in Creative and Critical Thinking through the Graduate College of Education at UMass Boston. He is the founder and director of Gravity Arts, Inc., a nonprofit organization providing customized educational services and products for individuals, groups, and corporations.