Music at Riverside

For over 90 years, the music program has drawn people from around the world to The Riverside Church. From our five choirs, to our carillon and four organs, to our renowned musicians, guests are certain to hear music that enlivens and nourishes the soul.

Upcoming Performances

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Carillon

The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Memorial Carillon was a gift to The Riverside Church by the late John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in memory of his mother. It contains 74 bronze bells ranging in weight from the 20 ton (18 metric) Bourdon (hour bell) to the smallest treble bell of 10 pounds (4.5 kg). The Bourdon is the largest and heaviest carillon bell ever cast. The total weight of all the bells is over 100 tons (91 metric).

When installed at The Park Avenue Baptist Church in 1925 by Gillett & Johnston Foundry of England, it was already the world’s largest carillon, with 53 bells and a bourdon of ten tons. When it moved here, with the congregation, in 1930, it was enlarged by Gillett & Johnston to become the first carillon to surpass five musical octaves; it is the only carillon to have achieved a bourdon pitch of C, a full octave below the normal range for a carillon. In 1956, the upper range of bells was replaced by the Van Bergen Foundry of the Netherlands.

The Carillon can be heard played every Sunday at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 3:00 p.m., and on other special occasions.

Riverside Carillonneurs:

Kamiel Lefévere (1930-1960)
James R. Lawson (1960-1989)
Joseph Clair Davis (1990-1998)
Dionisio Lind (1999-2019)
Charles Semowich (2019-present)

Organ

The Riverside Church organ is one of the largest pipe organs in the world. Designed in 1948 by Virgil Fox, then organist of the Riverside Church, it was built by the Aeolian-Skinner Organ Company of Boston, and dedicated in 1955 in concert with the New York Philharmonic conducted by Dimitri Mitropoulis. The organ was subsequently redesigned by succeeding organist Fred Swann and enlarged over a 30 year period by Curator of Organs Anthony Bufano, to become the magnificent instrument we know today. It currently comprises 149 stops, 207 ranks, and over 12,000 pipes spread over ten divisions divided between the Chancel and Gallery. The main Chancel console is five manuals, with a secondary four manual console in the Gallery. For more detailed information about the Riverside Church organs please visit the New York City Chapter Organ Project.

Riverside Organists:

Dr. Harold Vincent Milligan (1930-1940)
Frederick Kinsley (1940-1946)
Virgil Fox (1946-1965)
Frederick Swann (1966-1982)
Dr. John C. Walker (1983-1992)
Dr. Timothy Smith (1992-2008)
Christopher Johnson (2009-2021)
Christopher Creaghan (2021-present)