The Cathedral Music staff bring professional and educational experience that add depth and range to the Music program.
Director of Cathedral Music & Organist
Kent Tritle is one of America’s leading choral conductors. Called “the brightest star in New York's choral music world” by The New York Times, he is Director of Cathedral Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City; Music Director of the Oratorio Society of New York, the acclaimed 200-voice volunteer chorus; and Music Director of Musica Sacra, New York’s longest continuously performing professional chorus.
In addition, Kent is Director of Choral Activities at the Manhattan School of Music and is a member of the graduate faculty of The Juilliard School. An acclaimed organ virtuoso, he is also the organist of the New York Philharmonic and the American Symphony Orchestra and on the organ faculty of the Manhattan School of Music.
Kent Tritle founded the Sacred Music in a Sacred Space concert series at New York’s Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, and led it from 1989 to 2011. From 1996 to 2004, he was Music Director of New York’s The Dessoff Choirs. Kent hosted “The Choral Mix with Kent Tritle,” a weekly program on New York’s WQXR, from 2010 to 2014. Kent Tritle’s discography includes recordings on the Telarc, AMDG, Epiphany, Gothic, Pro Organo, VAI and MSR Classics labels.
Associate Director of Music & Choirmaster
Bryan Zaros is a young American conductor recognized for his “strong musical imagination” and “deep sense of musicality and communication.” Bryan is the Associate Director of Music & Choirmaster at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City where he leads the Cathedral Choirs, Orchestra and Brass in liturgical as well as concert performances in the grand space of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. He is also the Music Director of the Pro Arte Chorale, Music Director of Central City Chorus, and a frequent guest lecturer at the Manhattan School of Music and at music conferences throughout the USA. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of the New York Choral Consortium, on the Advisory Board to Music Sacra New York, and is a conductor for the American Federation Pueri Cantores.
A native New Yorker, Bryan began his professional musical training as a member of the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus and as a boy chorister at the Church of the Transfiguration, NYC. He earned a Bachelor of Music in Sacred Music from Westminster Choir College, a Master of Music in Conducting from the University of Michigan, and a Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the Manhattan School of Music.
Recent conducting engagements have included invitations with choirs and orchestras throughout the USA, Europe and South America. Most notably he has conducted ensembles at David Geffen Hall, Alice Tully Hall, the National Cathedral in Washington D.C., at American Choral Directors Association Conferences, on the film set at Warner Bros. Studios and at various cathedrals in England including Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Canterbury Cathedral. He is a recipient of several conducting awards and fellowships including an American Prize award in Conducting. For more information about Bryan, visit www.bryanzaros.com
Associate Director of Music & Organist
Named one of the top “20 under 30” organists by The Diapason magazine, Daniel Ficarri (b. 1996) is Associate Director of Music and Organist at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, NYC and a published composer of organ, choral, and chamber music.
A dynamic concert artist, Daniel has made appearances in Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall under the batons of Marin Alsop, Itzhak Perlman, David Robertson, James Gaffigan, and Bernard Labadie; and he has performed in many of the country’s great concert halls and houses of worship, including Symphony Hall in Boston and St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC. The New York Times has featured Ficarri in the “Week’s 8 Best Classical Music Moments,” and WQXR-FM presented him as part of the 2014 Bach Organ Marathon. Daniel studied the organ with Paul Jacobs at The Juilliard School, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Ficarri’s broad compositional output includes inaugural organ works for the Miller-Scott Organ at St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue and the restored Hazel Wright Organ at Christ Cathedral (formerly Crystal Cathedral); chamber works for a collaboration with violinist Stella Chen and for organ and cello duo Greg Zelek and Thomas Mesa; and sacred choral works ranging from his grand Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis in D, premiered by Kent Tritle and the Cathedral Choir and Cathedral Brass of St. John the Divine, to his understated Ah, Holy Jesus for the Church of St. Paul the Apostle, NYC, written during his tenure there. Much of Ficarri’s music is published by E. C. Schirmer and MorningStar. Daniel studied composition privately with Rachel Laurin.
Samuel Kuffuor-Afriyie is a native of Brooklyn, NY and is currently an MBA candidate at Syracuse University. He earned his B.M in Organ performance and minor in Economics from Syracuse University in 2020, studying with Dr. Anne Laver. Over the last few years, he was the recipient of many scholarship awards such as, the Brooklyn chapter American Guild of Organist scholarship award and the Gregory R. Keefe Memorial Scholarship by the Syracuse Chapter of the American Guild of Organist. Samuel was also an E. Power Biggs Organ fellow through the Organ Historical Society.
Samuel’s Ghanaian heritage has led him to embark on two major projects in his career thus far. He was awarded a grant through Syracuse University’s THE SOURCE foundation to conduct research on Ghanaian traditional music to be later adapted as new compositions for the Organ. The project was presented in lecture presentation in May of 2020. Samuel is working to publish those works as an organ suite. In parallel, he also founded and coordinated The Accra Organ and Choral Music Institute, now known as the Rural Arts Foundation in August of 2019. This event was a weeklong encounter that brought together guest clinicians from the US to conduct workshops and masterclasses on Choral Conducting, Organ Playing and Voice.
Samuel serves as Organ Scholar at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City. He has held other various church positions at St. Leonard’s Anglican Church and Ghana Wesley United Methodist, both in Brooklyn. Grace Episcopal, and director of music for the Syracuse University Catholic Campus Ministry in Syracuse, NY. He wishes to inspire and mentor youth through his music, primarily in the field of the Arts, especially minorities. Samuel enjoys traveling and eating!
Jie Yi holds a Doctor of Music Arts degree in conducting from Manhattan School of Music, studying with Kent Tritle. He is the author of Chinese for Singers, the first comprehensive guide for Western singers to use in singing Chinese texts. Dr. Yi is a recipient of the Asian Culture Council Fellowship (2011) and the U.S. China Cultural Institute Fellowship for Young Conductors (2006). In China, he was Chorus Master and Assistant Conductor at the Shanghai Opera from 2008 to 2013.
Dr. Yi conducted Messe de Minuit by Charpentier, Musikalische Exequien by Schütz, and Missa O quam gloriosum by Victoria at the Cathedral in 2018 and 2019. He also conducted Handel’s coronation anthem Let Thy Hand Be Strengthened at Riverside Church in 2018. In 2017, he conducted Bach’s St. John Passion (excerpts) at the Oregon Bach Festival. In 2015, he made his Carnegie Hall debut conducting Xian Xinghai’s Yellow River Cantata with DCINY. In 2011, he participated in the Jarvi Summer Festival in Estonia. In France, Dr. Yi studied with John Nelson and was a semi-finalist of the Besançon International Competition for Young Conductors (2007).
As pianist and vocal coach, Dr. Yi performed at La Lingua della Lirica Festival in Italy (2015– 16) and performed Bellini’s opera I Capuletti e i Montecchi at Manhattan School of Music (2013).
Ruston Ropac holds an MM degree in Contemporary Performance from the Manhattan School of Music, where she studied with Lucy Shelton, and sang with the contemporary chamber ensemble Tactus and the MSM Chamber Choir under Kent Tritle and Dr. Ronald Oliver. Before joining the music staff at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, she held administrative positions with Barrett Artists Management and the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York. She is a native of Southern California, where she received her BM degree in vocal performance and music composition at the University of Redlands.
A passionate advocate for new music, Ruston brings her dynamic soprano voice to the concert hall, chamber music, contemporary opera, and beyond. She has performed as a soloist with the Albany Symphony and its contemporary chamber orchestra, Dogs of Desire, and with the National Sawdust Ensemble in its Blueprint concert series. She is the vocalist of the NYC-based BlackBox Ensemble, and performed as soloist on the ensemble's debut recording Elegy. Ruston has sung the world premieres of over thirty new works of chamber music, and created the lead role of the Princess in Jed Bolipata's operatic comedy The Wages of Sin.
In addition to her work in contemporary music, Ruston is the vocalist of Four and Twenty Strings, Long Island's premier early music ensemble, and recently sang as a Messiah soloist with St. John's Lutheran Church in Stamford, Connecticut. She has made concert appearances with the chamber music commissioning project Shrew Brew, the Bach Collegium Choir of Saint Peter's Church, Ember Choral Ensemble, Melodia Women's Choir, and as a member of the New York Philharmonic Chorus.