The Rev. Michael D. Costello, Grace Cantor

Michael has served as Cantor at Grace Lutheran Church and School in River Forest, Illinois, since 2008. He is also Artistic Director of Chicago Choral Artists. A native of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Michael has served parishes in Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and South Carolina as a church musician and also served St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Columbia, South Carolina as an assistant pastor.

Michael graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina, and studied Sacred Music with Paul D. Weber and Florence Jowers. In 1999 Michael won the Ruth and Paul Manz award and won the Region IV Young Organists Competition of the American Guild of Organists (AGO) in the same year. Michael went on to perform during the AGO’s 2000 national convention in Seattle, WA. A portion of that program aired on National Public Radio’s Pipe Dreams.

Michael graduated in 2006 from Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree and was ordained at the South Carolina Synod Assembly of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) in May 2006. After serving for two years in Columbia, South Carolina, Michael was called to Grace and moved to River Forest.

Michael is known best for creative hymn improvisations and sensitive service playing. A composer of music for both choir and organ, many of Michael’s choral pieces and organ collections are published by MorningStar Music Publishers, several of which are included in a series called Sacred Music from Lenoir-Rhyne. Other pieces are published by Augsburg Fortress, Concordia Publishing House, Northwestern Publishing House, and GIA.

In the summers of 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 Michael led the Bach Cantata Vespers Chorus of Grace on a tour to Germany, the highlight of which was singing for a Sunday service at the Leipzig Thomaskirche, the church Johann Sebastian Bach served from 1723 until his death in 1750. During the service, Michael led the Bach Cantata Vespers Choir (along with the Leipzig Baroque Orchestra in 2012 and the Baroque Orchestra of Saxony in 2014, 2016, and 2018) in performances of Bach’s cantatas, as well as other service music. Michael has prepared and directed the Bach Cantata Vespers Chorus and Orchestra in their first performances of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, St. John Passion, the Mass in B Minor, and Christmas Oratorio.

Michael is an active member of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the American Guild of Organists, and the American Choral Directors Association.