J. Reilly Lewis, a native of Washington, DC, began his musical career at the age of eight as a member of the Junior Boy's Choir at Washington National Cathedral. He received his bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College and master’s and doctoral degrees from The Juilliard School of Music. In 1985 he was selected as Music Director of the Cathedral Choral Society , the resident symphonic chorus of Washington National Cathedral. He has conducted the Cathedral Choral Society in appearances at the Kennedy Center, most recently in performances of Orff’s Carmina Burana with The Washington Ballet and Handel’s Messiah with the National Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Lewis has presided over many premiere performances with the Choral Society at Washington National Cathedral including several world premieres. He leads the Cathedral Choral Society in eight of its current recordings.
An internationally known Bach specialist, Dr. Lewis is founding music director of the Washington Bach Consort. A keyboard artist and conductor, he has performed at the Aspen Music Festival, the International Handel and Bach festivals held in Halle and Leipzig respectively, the Cologne New Music Festival, and in Washington with the Smithsonian Chamber Players. He has performed Bach’s Goldberg Variations in concert many times and given numerous solo organ recitals throughout the U.S. and abroad. Dr. Lewis has been the featured organ soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra at several summer concerts and recently performed Barber’s Toccata Festiva, with Leonard Slatkin at the podium, in a Cathedral Choral Society concert. Among his most recent honors are the University Club of Washington’s 2004 Distinguished Washingtonian Award for the Arts and a 2005 Special Recognition Mayor's Arts Award for his significant contributions to the arts and cultural community of Washington, D.C. Washingtonian Magazine named him a "2005 Washingtonian of the Year."