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Meet the Moderator

Charles T. Downey at the piano, 2003
Photo © Joe Albright, Albright Creative Imagery

Charles T. Downey

E-mail: ionarts at gmail dot com

Born near Cleveland, Ohio, and raised in the Great State of Michigan. Began studying piano at the age of 15. Received Bachelor of Music in Piano at Michigan State University. Moved to Washington, D.C., to pursue graduate studies in musicology. Received M.A. and Ph.D. from The Catholic University of America, with research specialization in medieval music (M.A. thesis, "Breton Chant Notation in France and Northern Italy: A Comparative Study of Offertories in Chartres, Bibl. mun., 47 and Ivrea, Bibl. cap., LX") and French Baroque ballet and opera (dissertation, "Musical-Dramatic Works Derived from Ariosto and Tasso in the City of Paris, 1600–1800").

He has lived in Washington, D.C., for two decades, with two long stays in Paris for research. He teaches music and art history at St. Anselm's Abbey School, where he is Chair of the Fine Arts Department, and he has worked as a professional choral singer in several churches over the years, currently performing with a quartet for the Tridentine Mass at St. Mary, Mother of God, in Chinatown and with the choir at St. Patrick Catholic Church, the oldest parish in the Federal City of Washington, D.C. The moderator of Ionarts since 2003 and a freelance classical music critic for the Washington Post since March 2008, he was formerly Classical Music Contributor for DCist from 2004 to 2011 (with occasional pieces on art, film, and dance).


Stravinsky and Mozart make colorful music together in Santa Fe Opera double bill (The Classical Review, August 8, 2014)

Countertenor Iestyn Davies and lutenist Thomas Dunford at the Kennedy Center (Washington Post, April 10, 2014)

Organist Paul Jacobs offers refined performance at Kennedy Center (Washington Post, February 7, 2014)

Opera Philadelphia presents American premiere of mesmerizing “Svadba” (The Classical Review, November 3, 2013)

Meredith Monk’s ‘On Behalf of Nature’ at Clarice Smith Center (Washington Post, May 6, 2013)

Christophe Rousset on the harpsichord (Washington Post, April 15, 2013)

Alexandre Tharaud’s expressive piano at La Maison Française (Washington Post, October 29, 2012)

Krenek Symphonies (The Classical Review, October 8, 2012)

Royal Danish Ballet’s “A Folk Tale” (, June 9, 2011)

Finland’s Musical Talent Comes to Washington (, May 19, 2011)

Kate Lindsey at Barns at Wolf Trap (Washington Post, April 11, 2011)

Pianists Andre Watts and Evgeny Kissin offer Liszt recitals (Washington Post, March 8, 2011)

Pianist Till Fellner ends Beethoven sonata cycle with restrained refinement (Washington Post, October 19, 2010)

The NSO erupts with an enjoyable showing of Estonian talent (Washington Post, June 12, 2010)

NSO offers kids classical music as whodunit (Washington Post, May 11, 2010)

Mitsuko Uchida at the Music Center at Strathmore (Washington Post, April 23, 2010)


Several contributions to La Délivrance de Renaud: Ballet dansé par Louis XIII en 1617, ed. Greer Garden. Centre d'Études Supérieures de la Renaissance. Collection ‹‹Épitome musical››, dir. Philippe Vendrix. Turnhout, Belgium: Brepols, 2011.

With Keith Fleming†. "Some Multiple-Melody Communions with Texts from the Gospels." Études grégoriennes 33 (2005), 5–74.

"Ad imaginem suam: Regional Chant Variants and the Origins of the Jeu d'Adam." Comparative Drama 36 (2003): 359–90.

"The Breton Notation in Ivrea LX." Studia Musicologica Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 3 (1998): 187–93.

Report on "Chant and Palaeography" session. In Musicology and Sister Disciplines, Past, Present, Future: Proceedings of the 16th International Congress of the International Musicological Society, London, 1997, edited by David Greer (Part 3, "Reports on Study Sessions"). Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

An Utrecht Antiphoner: Utrecht, Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit 406 (3.J.7). Printouts from an Index in Machine-Readable Form: A CANTUS Index. Ed. Ruth Steiner. Musicological Studies, no. LV/6. Ottawa: The Institute of Mediaeval Music, 1997.

With Barbara Haggh, et al. Two Cambrai Antiphoners: Cambrai, Médiathèque municipale, 38 and Impr. XVI C 4. Printouts from Two Indices in Machine-Readable Form: A CANTUS Index. Musicological Studies, LV/4. Ottawa: The Institute of Mediaeval Music, 1995.

With Keith Glaeske. "Text and Music for the Lamentations: A Comparison of Settings in Cambrai XVI and Graz 29." Medieval Perspectives 10 (1995): 86–100.


"The Ballet de la délivrance de Renault as a Document of French Courtly Life." Meeting of American Musicological Society, Capital Chapter, 2 October 2004.

"The Ballet de la délivrance de Renault in history: participants, contemporary accounts." Eleventh Biennial International Conference on Baroque Music, Manchester, England, 15 July 2004.

"Dancing or Singing with One Bare Foot: A Magic Ritual on the French Stage." Symposium on Opera, Catholic University of America, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, 25 February 1999.

"The Two Versions of the Ballet de la Délivrance de Renault." The American Musicological Society, National Meeting (Phoenix, Arizona), 1 November 1997.

"The Breton Notation in Ivrea LX." The International Musicological Society, Annual Meeting, Study Group "Cantus Planus," as part of the session "Chant and Paleography" (London, England), 18 August 1997.

"Let Him Kiss Me with the Kiss of His Mouth: Late Votive Antiphons in Honor of the Virgin Mary." The 31st International Congress on Medieval Studies (Medieval Institute, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan), 9 May 1996.

With Keith Glaeske. "Text and Music for the Lamentations: A Comparison of Settings in Cambrai XVI and Graz 29." Meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association (Arlington, Virginia), November, 1994.

"J. S. Bach's Christmas Cantata Cycle of 1725–26: A Model for the Christmas Oratorio?" Meeting of the American Musicological Society, Capital Chapter (Richmond, Virginia), April, 1993.


Review of Esther (Tragédie de Jean Racine), edited by Anne Piéjus. In Music & Letters 87 (2006): 494–496.

Review of Jean-Paul C. Montagnier, Charles-Hubert Gervais: un musicien au service du Régent et de Louis XV (Paris: CNRS, 2001). In Music & Letters 84 (2003): 485–88.

Review of Catherine Massip, L'art de bien chanter: Michel Lambert (1610–1696) (Paris: Société Française de Musicologie, 1999). In Music & Letters 83 (2002): 449–53.

Review of John S. Powell, Music and Theatre in France, 1600–1680, Oxford Monographs on Music (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2000). In Music & Letters 82 (2001): 616–19.

Program notes for recording, I Sing of a Maiden: A Mosaic of Motets to the Virgin Mary, Choir of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Gothic Records G 49111 (2000).

Review of Andrew Hughes, Late Medieval Liturgical Offices (Toronto, 1994). In Plainsong and Medieval Music 4 (1995): 203–208.

Contributed computerized indices to offerings of Project CANTUS (some in collaboration with other scholars):
· Valenciennes, Bibliothèque municipale, 114
· Monza, Biblioteca capitolare, 15/79
· Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, lat. 1090
· Einsiedeln, Stiftsbibliothek, 611 (with Mette Kjaergaard)
· Utrecht, Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit, 406 (3.J.7)
· Tours, Bibliothèque municipale, 149
· Gottschalk Antiphonary (with Lisa Fagin Davis)
· Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, lat. 15181 and lat. 15182 (with Susan Kidwell)
· Vorau, Stiftsbibliothek, 287 (29)
· Graz, Universitätsbibliothek, 29 and 30
· Arras, Bibliothèque municipale, 465 (893)
· Florence, Arcivescovado, s.c.
· Florence, Biblioteca Laurenziana, Conv. sopp. 560
· Paris, Bibliothèque nationale, n.a. lat. 1535
· Cambrai, Médiathèque municipale, Impr. XVI C 4 (with Barbara Haggh et al.)
· Vatican City, Biblioteca apostolica vaticana, Cappella Sistina 27