James R. Metzler began his musical training as a boy chorister in the Choir of Men and Boys at All Saints’ Episcopal Church in Worcester, Massachusetts. While a member of this choir, he began lessons on the church’s famous Aeolian-Skinner organ of four manuals and 122 ranks. He holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Westminster Choir College and a Master of Music degree from the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford. He has also taken doctoral studies in organ and musicology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. His organ teachers have included Henry Hokans, Robert Carwithen, Alec Wyton (improvisation), John Holtz, Marilyn Mason, and Martin Neary at Winchester Cathedral in England. Additional studies were taken at the Royal School of Church Music, Addington Palace in Croydon, England.
In 1977, James Metzler received the Choirmaster’s diploma (Ch.M.) from the American Guild of Organists, gaining the highest score in the country, and he has been a winner of the S. Lewis Elmer Award for gaining the highest score of all diploma candidates. Mr. Metzler is also an Honorary Fellow (HonFNCM) of the National College of Music and Arts in London, England. He holds memberships in the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians, the Royal School of Church Music and the United Church of Christ Musician’s Association.
Mr. Metzler has given organ recitals in many notable places, including three in Westminster Abbey (London), as well as in St. Paul’s Cathedral (London), Notre Dame Cathedral (Paris), Norwich Cathedral (UK), King’s College Chapel (Cambridge University, UK), Westminster Cathedral (London), Worcester Cathedral (UK), Ely Cathedral (UK) and Washington National Cathedral (USA).
As an educator, he served on the music department faculties at Mitchell College (New London, Connecticut) and the University of Toledo (Ohio). As a choral conductor, Mr. Metzler has directed fifteen choral tours to England, leading the music for some 100 services in Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, York Minster Cathedral, Canterbury Cathedral, Durham Cathedral, Salisbury Cathedral, Norwich Cathedral, Guildford Cathedral, Ely Cathedral and St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields (Trafalgar Square). In August 1995, he was privileged to direct the music for the British VJ Day 50th Anniversary Commemoration Service in York Minster Cathedral in the presence of the Duke and Duchess of Kent who were representing Queen Elizabeth II.
In June 1992, he directed the world premiere of William Mathias’ anthem “Come, Holy Ghost” (for choir, organ, three trumpets and timpani) written for the 150th anniversary of Trinity Episcopal Church, Toledo, Ohio. When Dr. Mathias passed away the following month, a choral score for choir and organ (only) had not been created. In 1994, Oxford University Press requested that Mr. Metzler arrange this score for publication. This has been accomplished and the score is now available from Oxford. During the same time frame the well-known American composer, Gilbert Martin, dedicated his anthem “O love that casts out fear” to Mr. Metzler.
From 1972 until 1996, he served as Organist and Choirmaster of Trinity Episcopal Church in Toledo, Ohio where he developed a choral program of international reputation that included five choral tours to England. He also designed and oversaw the rebuilding of the church's four manual Ernest M. Skinner organ of 78 stops in 1984. A concert series was an integral part of the program, as was the inclusion of Toledo Symphony Orchestra musicians for choral mass settings by Mozart, Schubert and Haydn on major Feast Days.
In 1996, Mr. Metzler was appointed Organist and Director of Music (and later, Canon for Liturgy and Music) at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he directed the Cathedral Choir, Cathedral Ringers (adult handbells) and the Cathedral Girls Choir. In 1999, the Cathedral Choir sang for a week in residence at Norwich Cathedral in England, and in 2003, for a week in residence at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. He also supervised additional music opportunities for children and served as Artistic Director of the Cathedral Concert series. In 1999, Trinity Cathedral's Muller pipe organ of four manuals and 82 ranks (designed by James Metzler) was installed. Mr. Metzler continues to direct the Canterbury Singers USA (Toledo, Ohio) who have sung for eight choral tours in England since 1996.
In 2006, Mr. Metzler was appointed Organist & Director of Music Ministries at First (Park) Congregational Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In July 2011, his position changed to Organist and Associate Director of Music which gave him time to return to classroom teaching. In August 2011, he was appointed Adjunct Professor of Music at Grand Valley State University where he teaches three courses which have him on campus five days a week.
Mr. Metzler's biography is included in several publications, notably the "International Who's Who in Classical Music, 18th Edition" (London, England), "Who's Who in America, 60th Edition" and "Who's Who in the World, 24th Edition". He is the immediate past Dean of the Grand Rapids Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. Mr. Metzler can be heard performing in recital on the organ at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France by accessing www.YouTube.com and entering TheCathedralOrganist in the search bar.
Page last modified December 9, 2011