Cherry Rhodes

Adjunct professor

Cherry Rhodes is the first American to win an international organ competition (Munich). During her brilliant career, she has toured extensively throughout the major music capitals of North America, Europe and Asia with recitals in cathedrals, churches and concert halls, including Lincoln Center (New York City), Kennedy Center (Washington, D.C.), Orchestra Hall (Chicago), Meyerson Symphony Center (Dallas), Walt Disney Concert Hall (Los Angeles), Marcus Performing Arts Center (Milwaukee), Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts (Philadelphia), Royal Festival Hall (London), International Performing Arts Center (Moscow), Philharmonic Halls of Berlin, Dortmund and Luxembourg, the Organ and Architecture Symposium, and the renowned International September Music Festival of Montreux-Vevey (Switzerland). Other international festivals include those of Paris (Notre Dame and St. Eustache), Munich, Freiburg, Nurnberg, St. Albans, Luxembourg, Vienna, Bratislava, Presov, Gdansk and Warsaw, Seoul (2018) and Shanghai (2019).

As one of the first organists to perform on the organ in the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, Rhodes premiered Concierto de Los Angeles by James Hopkins, with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Subsequently, she played the monumental Symphonie Concertante by Joseph Jongen on the Los Angeles Philharmonic Subscription Series and a solo recital sponsored by Toyota.

At age 17, she made her debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra and later performed many times under the baton of Eugene Ormandy as well as numerous guest conductors. Since that time, she has performed as a soloist with orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic (with conductors Simon Rattle and Edo de Waart), the Phoenix Symphony, the Pasadena Chamber Orchestra, the South German Radio Orchestra and the Orchestra of the French National Radio.

From 1972-1975, she taught organ at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. During this time, she was artist-in-residence at All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, D.C., where she gave recitals and frequently premiered new music. Numerous composers have written and dedicated works to her, and she has edited several compositions as well. These include “Ascent” by Joan Tower (Associated Music Publishers, Inc.), “Prelude and Variations on ‘Old Hundredth’” by Calvin Hampton (Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.), “Meditations on ‘Salve, Festa Dies’” and “Chorale, Differences and Glossa on ‘Pure Nates in Bethlehem’” by Joseph Walter (Composer’s Library), and “The Organ Music for solo organ and organ and tape” by Larry King (Wayne Leupold Editions, Inc.). She gave premieres of these works as well as those by Jean Guillou, and American composers, Rayner Brown, James Hopkins, Clarence Mader, Daniel Pinkham, William Grant Still, Frank Ticheli and George Walker.

She has recorded for Columbia Records with Eugene Ormandy and the Philadelphia Orchestra. “Everyone Dance,” her critically acclaimed solo recording on the Pro Organo label, has been hailed by The American Organist as “A joyous celebration of unrivaled artistry!” She has been featured on the CDs Pipedreams Live! (Minnesota Public Radio), Comes Summertime (JAV Recordings), Historic Organs of Boston (The Organ Historical Society), Jean Guillou-Colloques (Augure), Cherry Rhodes…Live (Pro Organo), Cherry Rhodes in Concert (at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels), Cherry Rhodes at the Kimmel Center (Delos Productions, Inc.) and Jean Guillou – Colloques & Répliques (Rhodes on organ performed Colloques 2 & 4 with Jean Guillou on piano: Augure 2023).

She has performed at six American Guild of Organists National Conventions as well as many AGO Regional Conventions. Many of her performances have been broadcast and live-streamed.

In his book, Visionen (in German), organ builder Caspar Glatter-Götz describes Rhodes’ performances on his organs throughout the world accompanied by photos. She was invited by Jenny Setchell to give two lengthy anecdote contributions to her book, Organ-isms: Anecdotes from the World of the King of Instruments. After her first performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall on the new organ, Jennifer Zobelein devoted a chapter of her book, A Forest of Pipes: The Story of the Walt Disney Concert Hall Organ, to an interview with Rhodes, including photos of her performing with Los Angeles Philharmonic members.

She is a graduate of the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with Dr. Alexander McCurdy. She received Fulbright and Rockefeller grants for studies in Munich with Karl Richter and in Paris with Marie-Claire Alain, and Jean Guillou, who invited her to be his assistant for two years at St. Eustache.

Rhodes, adjunct professor of organ, has taught at the USC Thornton School of Music since 1975.  Many of her students have won awards, grants and top prizes in competitions in the United States and Europe. A sought-after musician, she teaches master classes and frequently serves as an adjudicator for competitions in North America, Europe and Asia, including the First and Second International Pipe Organ Competitions in Shanghai (2017, 2019).

She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ruth and Clarence Mader Scholarship Fund. In 2015, Rhodes and her husband Ladd Thomas received the American Guild of Organists Endowment Fund Distinguished Artist Award for their “exemplary careers.”