Jul 08, 2021
Dmitriy Ivanov

Sound of Music: Copeley ’19 Pursuing a Passion for Music

When Christian Copeley ’19 entered Assumption as an organ scholar, he considered himself more of a pianist.

“I primarily saw myself as a pianist, and I only decided to pursue organ at Assumption University because of the full-tuition scholarship,” he said. “However, after my first year, I began to realize that organ playing is a very useful skill to have as a church musician. So, I stuck with it, and I’m really happy I did because I learned so much as an organist and choir director.”

Copeley, who earned a master’s degree in Sacred Music with a concentration in organ performance from the University of Notre Dame in May, has been playing piano since elementary school and picked up the organ during his first year of high school. At Assumption, he began to focus on organ playing with the help of his professors, in particular Michelle Graveline, DMA, professor emerita of music at Assumption, who “got the ball rolling for me to learn some essential organ repertoire,” he explained. “She also prepared me for multiple recitals and competitions, as well as assisting me in applying to graduate school.” 

Copeley credits his Assumption education—he was a double major in music and graphic design—and the experiences he gained as a liturgical organist for the smooth transition to graduate school at the much larger Notre Dame, where he is one of 27 students in the Sacred Music program pursuing either a master’s degree or doctoral degree. 

“My courses, lessons, and assistantships at Notre Dame have allowed me to develop my skills even further,” he said, adding that he has used his graphic design skills to support publicity efforts for on-campus events.  

Copeley recently performed his second-year recital at Notre Dame, during which he performed three German pieces (Sonata No. 2 in E minor, Op. 19 by A.G. Ritter; Trio Sonata No. 4 in E minor, BWV 528 by J.S. Bach; and Partita on “Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten” by Georg Böhm), as well as two French pieces (Pastorale, Op. 19 by César Franck; and Prelude and Fugue No. 3 in G minor, Op. 7 by Marcel Dupré). “I chose these pieces because I really wanted to add more French music to my repertoire,” he said. 

Now that he has completed his studies at Notre Dame, Copeley is applying for positions as a music director at a Catholic parish in New Hampshire. “There is a pretty significant demand for organ scholars in the workplace,” he said. “They typically find work in churches as accompanists, but there are also many organists who can direct choirs and teach organ/piano lessons, and that is what I hope to do.”