Conner David McCain

Composer • Organist • Conductor


Conner David McCain is a composer, organist, and conductor, and is currently an MMus student at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.. His main compositional interests lie in continuing to develop and renew contemporary concert repertoire for the organ, all while remaining aware of the achievements of the past, such as in works like his Toccata-Fantasia, and also crafting novel and intimate formal organization for small ensemble performance. Works such as the earth flows away from the shore where I standwritten for the Oregon Bach Festival's Composer Symposium, are not only attempts to introduce a mature and unique soundscape, but also to build new relationships between pitch and rhythmic material into a form which he calls “crystalline,” or the slow, pressurized production of more traditional melodically oriented music out of modern techniques and sounds. Most of his music is a result of this meditation on the relationship between the traditional and the modern, and is an attempt to reconcile the two.

Choosing to study Philosophy and French at the University of St. Andrews instead of music somewhere in the United States, his experience in Scotland was intellectually, spiritually, personally, and musically edifying, and resulted in his works being performed by ensembles such as Voces8 and the Red Note Ensemble, a composition masterclass with Philip Stopford, and fruitful personal and professional relationships with composers such as Sir James MacMillan and Phillip Cooke. Due to this broad education, his work is inspired by a variety of sources, not only spiritual and philosophical, but also literary and poetic, as can be seen by the titles of some of his works. the earth flows away from the shore where I stand, for B-flat Clarinet, Trumpet, and Piano, takes its title from the first line of "The Song" from Czesław Miłosz' Three Winters.

As an organist, Conner has performed with ensembles such as the St. Salvator’s Chapel Choir, and formed and led his own Schola while at the University of St. Andrews, specializing in the reconciliation of a more traditional musical aesthetic, based on Gregorian chant, with modern sacred music, such as that of Marcel Dupré, Maurice Duruflé, Kenneth Leighton, Sir James MacMillan, Olivier Messiaen, and many others.

Research interests include the theological implications of the music of Olivier Messiaen, and, more broadly, developing a theology of creativity based upon Creation itself. Conner has been invited to present a paper at this year’s American Academy of Religion Annual Conference, titled “Olivier Messiaen’s Des canyons aux étoiles: How Love for Creation Inspires Creativity.” He has been a Wilbur Research Fellow at the Russell Kirk Center for Cultural Renewal, where he gave a paper entitled "The Composer as Contemplative: Toward a Theology of Composition."

Originally from Dallas, Texas, Conner and his wife currently reside in Hyattsville, Maryland.


Chamber Music

Constellations (for Solo Violin)

Performed on December 10, 2018 in Washington, D.C. by Yasha Borodetsky.

Crucifixion I: At the Heart of the World (for B-flat Clarinet, Violin, and Cello)

Performed on February 28, 2016 at the Byre Theatre in St. Andrews, Scotland by members of the Red Note Ensemble.

dance dance dance (for Flute, Oboe, B-flat Clarinet, Horn, and Bassoon)

Performed on September 15, 2018 at Georgetown University by Niklas Rodewald (flute), Natalie Pucillo (B-flat clarinet), Ken Watson (oboe), Rebecca Hollister (horn), and Chris McFarlane (bassoon).

in your nearer being you placed the light (for String Trio)

the earth flows away from the shore where I stand (for B-flat Clarinet, C Trumpet, and Piano)

Performed on July 5, 2018 at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium by members of the American Composers Ensemble.

Venite Adoremus (for Piano Quartet)

Recorded on November 28, 2016 in St. Salvator's Chapel in St. Andrews, Scotland with Rebecca Clulow (violin), Jo McGeoch (viola), Alan McGeoch (cello), James Green (piano).

For Chorus

Auden's Carol

Performed at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. on December 16, 2018.

Job's Prayer (Which Is Ours) (STB)

Performed at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine in Washington, D.C. on October 6, 2018.


Missa aurora salutis

Kyrie read by the CUA Chamber Choir in Washington, D.C. on December 6, 2017.

O Vere Beata Nox (for Choir and Organ)

The Spirit Shall Return

Performed on October 22, 2015 at St. Leonard’s College in St. Andrews, Scotland by Voces8.

For Organ

Organ Symphony No. 1

For Piano

Gregorian Suite

I. Prelude

II. Processional

III. Kyrie

IV. Gloria

V. Sanctus 

VI. Elevation

VII. Agnus Dei

VIII. Ite missa est

Performed on December 6, 2017 in Washington, D.C. by Radina Dosseva.

Scores are available upon request.



  • 12/16/2018 04:00 PM
  • Saint John Paul II National Shrine, Washington, D.C.

Come see my Christmas anthem, Auden's Carol, at the Saint John Paul II National Shrine on December 16th! For more information, go to

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  • 12/10/2018 07:30 PM
  • Ward Hall, Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C.

Come see my work for solo violin, Constellations, at the Catholic University of America on December 10!

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  • 11/19/2018 03:30 PM
  • Colorado Convention Center

I will be presenting a short paper, titled "Olivier Messiaen’s 'Des Canyons aux étoiles:' How Love for Creation Inspires Creativity," and will be participating in a roundtable discussion with other musicians and theologians.

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  • 10/26/2018 10:35 AM
  • Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, University of Tennesee, Knoxville, TN

I will present my paper “Gregorian Echoes: The Influence of Plainchant on the Music of Henri Dutilleux" at the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival on October 26!

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  • $10
  • 9/15/2018 02:00 PM
  • New North Hall, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.

Come see dance dance dance at Georgetown University on September 15th!

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The Trombone Concerto is, extraordinarily, all that it sets out to be. It is a dirge for those lost. It is a celebration of life. It is an unbelievable vehicle for the abilities of the trombone, and of the virtuoso trombonist. And, more than anything else, it is James MacMillan. It is a work inexorably formed by his hands, and is the unique outworking of his spirit.

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In October 2018, I presented this paper, titled "Gregorian Echoes: The Influence of Plainchant on the Music of Henri Dutilleux," at the University of Tennessee Contemporary Music Festival.

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In November 2018, I presented this paper titled “Olivier Messiaen's 'Des Canyons aux étoiles': How Love for Creation Inspires Creativity" at the American Academy of Religion's Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado.

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  • Hyattsville, Maryland, United States