Sign Up for Our Newsletter!

Sign-Up to receive updated stories from OC Catholic.


Episode No. 1 Celebrating 150 Years of Louis Vierne

Sounds from the Sanctuary celebrates the 150th Anniversary of the birth of Louis Vierne, French composer and famed organist of Notre Dame in Paris, with a playlist of some of his greatest hits. Featuring recordings of American organists Dr. David Crean, Christopher Houlihan, George Baker, and Diane Bish; and historical recordings of Pierre Cochereau, Virgil Fox, Richard Morris, Stephen Cleobury, Vierne himself, and a never-before-heard recording of André Marchal.


Episode No. 80 Marian Music for the Month of May

 Guest Host David Ball takes us on a musical journey of Marian Music – from some of the oldest written hymns to classic Romantic-era solo works to well-known choral settings. Joining David is composer and friend of the show Daniel Ficarri. A recent graduate of the Juilliard School in New York, Daniel Ficarri speaks from the heart of a composer about the inspiring nature of Marian texts, and shares with us his own Ave Maria – a radio premiere and exclusive to Music from the Tower! Featured alongside Ficarri’s stunning new Ave Maria are classics including the Schubert, Bach-Gounod, and Biebl settings; and some lesser-known, yet equally gorgeous settings by living composers Anna Jacobs, Cecilia McDowall, James Biery, and John Rutter.


Episode No. 70 Saturday, October 12, 2019 Stephen Tharp, Concert Organist

“Stephen Tharp is the best organist in America.”  The Diapason 

This fantastic episode is with the most active concert organist in the world, Stephen Tharp.
Having played more than 1600 concerts across over 53 tours worldwide, Stephen has built one of the most well-respected international careers in the world, earning him the reputation as the most traveled concert organist of his generation.  He has been given the 2011 International Performer of the Year Award by the New York City chapter of the American Guild of Organists. In May 2015, he was given the Paul Creston Award which recognizes artistic excellence by a significant figure in church music and the performing arts.
His list of performances since 1987 includes such distinguished venues as St. Bavo, Haarlem; Notre-Dame de Paris, St. Eustache, Paris; Notre Dame de Chartres; The Hong Kong Cultural Centre; the Town Halls of Sydney and Adelaide, Australia; Tchaikovsky Hall, Moscow; the Duomo, Milano, Italy; the cathedrals in Berlin, Köln, The Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas; Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles; The Kimmel Center, Philadelphia; The Riverside Church, New York City; Rice University, Houston; and Spivey Hall, Atlanta.
Stephen Tharp remains an important champion of new organ music, and continues to commission and premiere numerous compositions for the instrument. The first such piece was Jean Guillou’s symphonic poem Instants, Op. 57, which Tharp premiered at King’s College, Cambridge, England in February 1998.  Works dedicated to him include composers George Baker, David Briggs, Samuel Adler Thierry Escaich and Anthony Newman.  Himself a composer, Tharp was commissioned by Cologne Cathedral, Germany to compose for Easter Sunday, 2006 his Easter Fanfares for the inauguration of the organ’s new en chamade Tuba stops, as well Disney’s Trumpets, composed in February 2011 for the organ at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, Los Angeles, where it was premiered by the composer the following month.
In April 2008, Stephen Tharp was named the Official Organist for the NY visit of Pope Benedict XVI, playing for three major events attended by more than 60,000 people that were broadcast live worldwide
His 15 solo organ recordings can be found on the labels Acis Productions, JAV Recordings, Aeolus, Naxos, Organum and Ethereal, and are available from the Organ Historical Society (, JAV Recordings ( and Amazon (
Stephen Tharp earned his BA degree, magna cum laude, from Illinois College, Jacksonville, IL and his MM from Northwestern University, Chicago, where he studied with Rudolf Zuiderveld and Wolfgang Rübsam, respectively.  He has also worked privately with Jean Guillou in Paris.
Music all performed by Stephen Tharp and is available on i-tunes.
“I vow to Thee, my country”. (Thaxted) Album: Great Church Hymns Traditional and New.
Fugue in D Major, BWV 532 Johann S. Bach Album: Stephen Tharp Plays the Organ at St. Bavo, Haarlem.
Station IV Jesus meets His Mother   Album: Marcel Dupré: The Stations of the Cross, Op. 29
Danse Diabolique  George Baker Album: Stephen Tharp: The St. James’ Recital.


Episode No. 68 Saturday, September 21, 2019 Craig S. Williams, Organist/Choirmaster of the West Point Cadet Chapel

Craig Williams is the Organist/Choirmaster at West Point Cadet Chapel, Craig enjoys the distinction of playing one of the world’s largest church pipe organ. some 23, 511 pipes in all (Hazel has just over 17,000) He is the fourth organist to hold the position of Organist/Choirmaster at West Point, where he has given numerous VIP demonstrations for royalty, cabinet members, generals, members of Congress, and other international government and military figures.  He holds degrees from Westminster Choir College, The Juilliard School, and the University of Southern California. A native of Souther California, Craig has had extensive experience as a concert performer at major venues throughout the United States, including the Crystal Cathedral and the Segerstrom Center for the Performing Arts.

Mr. Williams earned a Master of Music in organ performance from Westminster Choir College of Rider University; Church Music Certificate with honors, Westminster Conservatory; M.M., piano, The Juilliard School; B.M., cum laude, piano, University of Southern California. Organ studies with Eugene Roan, conducting studies with Allan Crowell and Andrew Megill. First recipient of the Currin Scholarship (full graduate) in organ performance. Since August 2000 he has served as Organist and Director of Music, Cadet Chapel, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY; He is also adjunct professor of organ, Nyack College. Conservatory faculty since 1999.

Enjoy a fascinating visit with this very busy professional musician serving at this most prestigious post. All of the organ pieces on today’s show are performed by Craig. West Point Cadet Chapel Organ Recitals

MUSIC: Sonata No. 1 IV. Allegro assai Vivace Felix Mendelssohn (recorded on the Segerstrom Fisk Organ)
MUSIC: Christ Lag in Todes Banden Johann Sebastian Bach
MUSIC: Symphony No. 3 IV. Adagio Louis Vierne (recorded at West Point Chapel)
MUSIC: Symphony No. 6 V. Finale Charles Marie Widor (recorded at West Point Chapel)
MUSIC: Festal Flourish composed and performed by Craig Williams (recorded at West Point Chapel)


Episode No. 66 Saturday, August 24, 2019 Dr. Steven Ball, Concert Organist, Church Musician, Carillonnuer, Director of Sacred Music at the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales, St. Louis, Missouri.

Steven Ball has recently been named as Director of Sacred Music at The Oratory of St. Francis de Sales in St. Louis, Missouri. The Oratory is famous for a unique and varied choral repertoire spanning several centuries and performed by numerous ensembles. The liturgies are conducted exclusively in Latin using the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the universal form of the Roman Catholic Liturgy before the changes which followed the Second Vatican Council. As such it provides a unique cultural and musical setting in which the music of some of the greatest composers for sacred choral and organ music can be heard in their original context.
A native of Michigan originally, Dr. Ball studied at the University of Michigan where he later went on to teach, serve as University Carillonneur, and the Director of the famous Stearns Collection of Musical Instruments. He received his DMA in 2007 as a student of Marilyn Mason.   A former Fulbright Scholar to the Netherlands, Steven Ball is also well known for his work in the world of campanology (the study of bells), improvisation, as an organ consultant, for silent film accompaniment and as a theater organist. He has traveled and performed extensively in both the United States and abroad including concerts in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Portugal, Ireland, England, Switzerland and Italy. He was inducted as a Knight of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem (a Papal Knighthood) in 2017.

He comes to this position from New Jersey where he last served as Organist and Director of Outreach (now Emeritus) for the world’s largest pipe organ located in Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City. His time there also included a position at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia, PA.  While serving on the faculty of the Organ Department at the University of Michigan, he also served as Cathedral Organist at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit and Senior Staff Organist at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

St. Francis de Sales Oratory is one of the largest and most important examples of gothic revival architecture in the nation. Tied for 6th tallest church tower in the United States, it is located on historic Route 66 and is open daily for visitors. Named America’s most beautiful church in a recent nationwide contest, the church is served by priests from the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest.

Today’s show is all about his work at the Oratory and the music for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass (The Latin Mass).
MUSIC: Asperges Me Chant; Introit: Dignus est Agnus; Kyrie (Mass V); Gloria (Mass V); Gradual: Dominabitur; Credo (Mass V); Sanctus and Benedictus (Mass V); Agnus Dei (Mass V); Communion: Sedebit; March Gothique by Becker. Steven Ball Organist.


Episode No. 63 Saturday June 22, 2019 Your hosts John A. Romeri, Christ Cathedral Director of Music and David L. Ball, Cathedral Assistant Director of Music and Organist


Hear John and David describe the amazing artists and  music coming to Christ Cathedral in our 4th season of concerts.


Christ Cathedral Concerts 2019 – 2020

Sunday, July 21, 2019  3 PM  Christ Cathedral

Schola Cantorum of the London Oratory School

Charles Cole, Conductor

            MUSIC:   Haec Dies, John Shappard

            MUSIC:   Salvator Mundi, Thomas Tallis


Thursday, August 1, 2019  7:30 PM Christ Cathedral

Pacific Symphony and Pacific Chorale performs Beethoven 9th Symphony

Carl St. Clair, Conductor

            MUSIC:  Symphony No 9  4th Movement  Ludwig van Beethoven

            MUSIC:  Symphony No 9  4th Movement finale  Ludwig van Beethoven


Tuesday, August 6, 2019  7:30 PM Christ Cathedral Arboretum

Libera Boy Choir of London

Robert Prizeman, Conductor

            MUSIC:  Libera   Robert Prizeman
MUSIC:  Sanctus   Johann Pachebel/Robert Prizeman


Saturday, October 24, 2019  2 PM  Christ Cathedral

Mark Thallander Foundation Festival of Faith

Dr. Mack Wilberg, Conductor


Wednesday, November 20, 2019  7:30 PM   Christ Cathedral

Tenebrae Choir of London

Nigel Short, Conductor

            MUSIC: Ubi Caritas   Paul Mealor

            MUSIC:  Path of Miracles  “Leon”  Joby Talbot


Friday, December 13, 2019   Christ Cathedral

Christmas at the Cathedral

Christ Cathedral Choirs

            MUSIC:  The Snow Lay on the Ground  arr. Julian Wachner


Saturday, January 18, 2020  8:00 PM   Christ Cathedral

Westminster Choir from Westminster Choir College

Dr. Joe Miller, Conductor

            MUSIC:  Haec Dies   William Byrd

            MUSIC:  The Lord Bless You and Keep You   Peter Lutkin


Friday, April 24, 2020  7:30 PM  Christ Cathedral

Cathedral Choir from Notre Dame, Paris

Henri Chalet, Conductor   Yves Castagnet, Organist

            MUSIC:  Messe Salve Regina  Yves Castagnet


Friday, May 15, 2020  8:00 PM  Christ Cathedral

Hazel Wright Organ Rededication

            MUSIC:  Cantata No. 29  Johann S. Bach   Paul Jacobs, Organist



Episode No. 54 Saturday, December 15, 2018 Scott Kennebeck, Principal Cantor and Section Leader, Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri, and John Powell Walsh, Organist at the St. Louis Abbey


Episode 54 features two of St. Louis Missouri’s finest musicians.  Both have been long-time friends of our host, John Romeri, from his days at St. Louis Cathedral.  In recent years they have formed a partnership that is unbeatable and through that collaboration have produced concerts and CD recordings that are top-notch!!
Scott is a native St. Louisan and has been singing since the age of 8, beginning his singing career in the Cathedral of St. Louis Pontifical Boys Choir. He earned a Bachelors Degree in Fine and Performing Arts/Music and Theatre from St. Louis University, and has studied voice with Christine Armistead at Washington University. He currently serves as Principal Tenor for the American Kantorei in Concordia Seminary’s Bach at the SemConcert Series. Scott is the Executive Director of St. Louis Cathedral Concerts. ​Since 1993 Scott has served as the Tenor section leader for the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis Choir and Archdiocesan Choir of St. Louis. He also serves as cantor for the Cathedral Parish, as well as at major Archdiocesan events. He was a cantor/soloist for 100,000+ in attendance and a worldwide television broadcast audience for the Papal Mass in St. Louis, Missouri in 1999. He has toured as soloist throughout the United States, Italy, England, Germany, and Austria. His performances have included Verdi’s Requiem in Rome, Italy; Hector Berlioz’s Te Deum in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, and numerous performances of Handel’s Messiah. He has also performed with Union Avenue Opera and the St. Louis Muny.

​John Powell Walsh began piano and organ lessons in elementary school and has had a love affair with music ever since.  Continuing his education through graduate school and even the Haarlem International Academy for Organists in the Netherlands.  John is one of the most prominent church musicians in St. Louis.  He was one of the Papal Organists for the Visit of John Paul II to St. Louis.  He is featured with numerous musical organizations in St. Louis from the Bach Society to the Ronald Arnatt Chorale.  He was the founder of The Archangel Players, The St. Cecilia Consort and the St. Louis Hills Arts Council.  He is presently the Organist for the St. Louis Abbey and Priory School.
Enjoy these two amazing musicians as they tell of their extraordinary lives as church musicians.  Listen to music from their two latest CD’s.

To purchase these or any of their CD’s

MUSIC: The Bells of St. Mary’s   A. Emmett Adams   CD: Angels Bending Near The Earth
MUSIC: Still Still Still   German Carol arr. Philip Ledge  CD: Angels Bending Near The Earth
MUSIC:  Birthday of a King  William H. Neidlinger  CD: Angels Bending Near The Earth
MUSIC: Little Boy Blue  Reginald de Koven  CD: Words to Music: Songs of Eugene Field
MUSIC:  Virgin Slumber Song   Max Reger  CD: Angels Bending Near The Earth


Episode 36 April 28, 2018 Paul M. French, Organist, Conductor, Church Musician, Composer, Arranger, and Pueri Cantores Board President

Conductor Paul French was in Southern California to conduct two Children’s Choir Festivals for Pueri Cantores. While in town, we were lucky enough to have him as a guest on MUSIC FROM THE TOWER. Hear from Chicagoan Paul French, the Music Director at Chicago’s Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church, where he leads a thriving choral program for both children and adults. Mr. French recently stepped down after twelve seasons as the music director of the William Ferris Chorale, a 24-voice Chicago based professional choir specializing in accessible compositions of the twentieth century, and whose cutting-edge arts programming regularly garnered excellent reviews.

Mr. French has studied composition, chant, conducting and organ at St. John’s University (Collegeville, MN), Northwestern University and the Pontificio Instituto di Musica Sacra in Rome. A composer of more than 200 instrumental and choral works including pieces for adult and children’s choirs, voice, organ, brass and orchestra, he serves on the music advisory staff of the Archdiocese of Chicago and has been a faculty member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians Choir Director Institutes for over 10 years. Additionally, he serves as Director of Choral Recordings for World Library Publications and is Editor of the Pueri Cantores Choral Series of distinguished choral literature for youth choirs. He is presently the president of board of directors for the American Federation of Pueri Cantores, the official Children’s Choir organization for the Catholic Church. The organization has over 60,000 children members world-wide and hundreds of member-choirs in the United States.


MUSIC: Psalm 122 I Lift My Eyes   Paul French (Paraclete Press) The Choir of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Chicago

MUSIC: A Prayer of St. Patrick Paul French (Morningstar Music) Morningstar Demo Choir

MUSIC: Ave Verum   Paul French (Morningstar Music) William Ferris Chorale, Chicago

MUSIC: Te Deum   Michael Bedford American Federation Pueri Cantores Choir of 1000 Voices, Paul French, Conductor – Spring 2012 Holy Name Cathedral, Chicago


Episode 21   November 18, 2017     Mark Thallander, Concert Organist, long-time Organist at Crystal Cathedral (1976-1993), President of the Mark Thallander Foundation.

This is an amazing story of a wonderful musician, who served the Crystal Cathedral for 18 years, 1976 – 1993, as Assistant Organist and assisting for the Hour of Power with scripting, service programming, and even arranging for the musical guests! As author, composer, and performer, his life drastically changed after a horrific car accident in 2003. As a man of great faith, he went on to create the Mark Thallander Foundation, which he serves as president, and even continues to perform organ concerts around the country. The Mark Thallander Foundation presents choral festivals inspiring thousands of church musicians, singers, clergy, and congregations, presenting great music of faith. The foundation connects children and youth to sacred and classical music. In addition, it fosters the education of organists through music scholarships. You can find out more at

MUSIC: Improvisation On “O Store Gud”   Recorded “live” at The Crystal Cathedral for the Hour of Power   Mark Thallander, Organist   Peggy Lee Whiteaker and Jeremy Reinbolt, Percussionists

MUSIC: Postlude On “Old Hundredth”   Recorded “live” at The Crystal Cathedral for the Hour of Powerc   Mark Thallander, Organist   Peggy Lee Whiteaker and Jeremy Reinbolt, Percussionists

MUSIC: Toccata on “Hymn to Joy”   Recorded “live” at The Crystal Cathedral  The Hazel Wright Organ 20th Anniversary   Mark Thallander, Organist

MUSIC: Festival Fideles

MUSIC: Organ Fantasy On “O For A Thousand Tongues To Sing”   Recorded “live” at The Crystal Cathedral for the Hour of Power   Mark Thallander, Organist   Peggy Lee Whiteaker and Jeremy Reinbolt, Percussionists

MUSIC: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty Michael Burkhardt



In the case of Julliard-trained organist David Ball, it is true that what goes around, comes around – and that everything old is new again.

Ball, now 25, took his first organ lessons as a young teen in St. Louis, MO, from Dr. John Romeri, who was then-director of the Office of Sacred Music for the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.

Now that Ball has been appointed as Christ Cathedral organist and assistant director of music – where Romeri directs the music program – they are again together, this time as colleagues.

Ball, who earned his master of music degree at Julliard last May, still considers Romeri a mentor and says he’s thrilled to be working with him once more.

“One of the most amazing things about working here is working with John Romeri,” says Ball, a Santa Ana resident. “We share a goal to build a wonderful music program for everyone who worships on the campus. We want all 19 music programs to be worthy of the cathedral, with high standards that continue the great historical musical tradition first established by the Crystal Cathedral.”

The Christ Cathedral campus is an “amazing place to make music,” he notes, with 12 masses each weekend offered in four different languages, each full to standing-room-only with churchgoers who want to sing.

“Dr. Romeri has a legacy of building wonderful Catholic music programs throughout the country,” Ball says. “To be so intimately involved with the building process of the Christ Cathedral music program is an amazing opportunity.”

In turn, Romeri says he’s thrilled to have his former student on the music staff at Christ Cathedral. “David was one of the most promising students I had in my very long career,” he notes. “He accomplished wonderful things at Julliard. I kept my eye on him because I knew he had a little something special.

“I’m delighted he is here,” he continues. “He’s already made such a big difference so far.”

Ball says he’s particularly excited about performing on the Christ Cathedral campus’s three impressive organs: the Rodgers Organ, the Fred Swann Organ, and the Hazel Wright Organ.

Ÿ The Rodgers Organ, so named because it was manufactured by Oregon-based Rodgers Instruments, is in the Chapel in the Sky in the top floor of the Tower of Hope.

Ÿ The Fred Swann Organ – named for the Crystal Cathedral’s organist and music director – is located in the Arboretum. It was named during Swann’s tenure because he was instrumental in obtaining the organ for the cathedral. The instrument was extensively cleaned and refurbished in 2014 when the Arboretum was restored, updated and reconfigured for use in the Catholic mass.

Ÿ Most famous of all is the Hazel Wright Organ, which will be installed in the new Christ Cathedral when it opens next year. The historic organ, one of the world’s largest pipe organs, incorporates the large Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ originally built in 1962 for New York’s Lincoln Center, and the Fratelli Ruffatti Organ which had been installed in the cathedral’s previous sanctuary in 1977.

Ball says as a performer that he is committed to making the organ itself, known as the King of Instruments, play well with other instruments and voices.

He is a recognized and well-lauded young performer. The New York Times declared his appearance in Juilliard’s FOCUS! Festival “a rousing performance.” His performance of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A minor in Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall was broadcast on American Public Media’s nationally syndicated radio program Pipedreams.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Ball was named one of The Diapason’s 2017 Class of 20 under 30, a peer-selected group of young people at the forefront of the organ field.

He completed both his undergraduate and graduate degrees at The Juilliard School in New York City, studying under Mr. Paul Jacobs.

Ball is an active member of the American Guild of Organists, where he performed at the 2016 AGO national convention as a Rising Star. As Christ Cathedral organist, his musical contributions can be heard at the cathedral’s vast array of weekly services and events, accompanying the Diocesan, Cathedral and Children’s choirs in support of the parish’s diverse congregation.

As both organist and assistant music director, Ball rotates responsibilities with Romeri and Dr. Ricardo Soto, director of Spanish music. “We all conduct the choirs, play the organ and run rehearsals,” he explains, as well as teaching sixth-graders in the cathedral’s Organ Scholar Program. “We can always fill in for each other.”

Ball has won competitions in Wichita, Denver and St. Louis and continues to perform as a solo and collaborative concert organist throughout the U.S. In the past, he performed a duet recital with Romeri on the largest musical ever built, the Boardwalk Hall Organ in Atlantic City. In his early days as an organ scholar at the landmark St. Louis Cathedral Basilica, Ball played and accompanied the Cathedral Basilica’s choirs in performances across the country and in Rome, Italy. Information about Ball’s upcoming and recent performances is available at his website,