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Wedding Music

Music sets to the atmosphere and allows guests to take part in the joy of your union.


The regular organists for Cornell weddings are the University Organists, Professors Annette Richards, and David Yearsley as well as Cornell staff member Dr. William Cowdery. There are also several excellent local organists whom we can recommend to you, should we not be available on your day.

Outside organists are only permitted to play at Cornell by special arrangement with Profs. Richards or Yearsley.

All the organists who play here are very experienced and will be happy to consult with you about the music for your wedding. The organist fee is $375 for the ceremony, with an additional fee of $125 for the rehearsal (should you like the organist to attend the rehearsal). A check for the full amount should be sent directly to the organist at least one week before the wedding. No deposit is necessary.

Organ Music for Weddings at Cornell

This list may serve as a guide to choosing organ music for your wedding. You can access short excerpts here using username: wedding, and password: cornell.

We are open to other possibilities, provided that the music can be played successfully on the instruments in Sage and Anabel Taylor Chapels (it is important to realize that not everything works equally well on the organ).

Please call or email after you have thought about your music. We’ll be happy to answer questions and meet with you in person if you wish. We hope you enjoy selecting music for your wedding!


The processional is no doubt the most important music of your wedding. Couples generally prefer two separate compositions, one for the entry of the bride’s maid(s), another for the entry of the bride. For the bride’s maid(s), nos. 1 through 9 are all appropriate. Especially effective is the “Trumpet Voluntary” by Clarke (no. 1). Your biggest decision concerns the use of the traditional march by Wagner (no. 7); if you use this, you will probably want to reserve it for the bride alone. If you prefer something else for the bride, think especially about nos. 2 and 3. A particularly good combination of marches is the “Trumpet Voluntary” (no. 1) for the bride’s maid(s), and the “Allegro” from the Water Music (no. 2) for the bride.

Occasionally, a couple prefers a quiet processional instead of a big march. If you want something gentler, think about the “Canon” by Pachelbel (no. 16), or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring” by Bach (no. 13).


Like the processional, the recessional is very important. It comes at the close of your service, as the wedding party (the wedding couple, bride’s maids, groom’s men, and clergy) exits the church. We strongly recommend a loud, exciting organ piece. Nos. 10 through 12, plus any one of the processional choices except the traditional entry by Wagner (no. 7) are appropriate. Your most important decision concerns the use of the traditional exit march by Mendelssohn (no. 10). If you do not want this traditional recessional, the “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven (no. 6) and “Psalm 19” by Marcello (no. 3) are particularly striking. For pieces that are exciting, but are not marches as such, the “Toccata” by Widor (no. 11) is a classic. This piece, like the Prelude in G major (no. 12) can also be used immediately after the wedding recessional, while guests leave the church.

Miscellaneous Music (Optional)

Some couples would like an organ piece during the service. One place for a piece is between the readings. Nos. 13 through 21 are all appropriate, but the pieces we most frequently perform are familiar works by Bach (nos. 13-14), the famous “Canon” by Pachelbel (no. 16), and the beautiful, but less well-known, “Rhosymedre” by Vaughan Williams (no. 18); for something livelier than these, think about “Wachet auf” by Bach (no. 15). 

If you plan to have a unity candle lighting ceremony near the end of the service, you will probably want a short composition for this moment. Any fairly quiet piece will do; many people like the “Canon” by Pachelbel (no. 16) and the “Air from Suite in D” by Bach” (no. 14). Also good here is “Rhosymedre”, or Schubert’s “Ave Maria” (no. 21).

A hymn (chosen by the couple) is another option.

If your service includes communion, you will need some music for that. Again, any quiet piece(s) will do.

Prelude Music

The prelude music is played before the service while guests are being seated. The selection of pieces is usually “the organist’s choice.” But almost any of the recorded pieces here could be performed at that time if you like. Of course, we’re always open to other suggestions.

1) Trumpet Voluntary (or Prince of Denmark March) - Clarke
2) Allegro (from Water Music) - Handel
3) Psalm 19 - Marcello
4) Rondeau  - Mouret
5)Trumpet Tune - Purcell
6) Ode to Joy - Beethoven
7) Bridal Chorus (from Lohengrin) - Wagner
8) Rigaudon - Campra
9) Prelude to the Te Deum - Charpentier

10) Wedding March (from A Midsummer Night’s Dream) - Mendelssohn
11) Toccata (from Symphony V) - Widor
12) Prelude in G major - Bach

Other Music
13) Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring - Bach
14) Air, from Suite in D - Bach
15) Wachet auf - Bach
16) Canon in D - Pachelbel
17) Air (from Water Music) - Handel
18) Rhosymedre - Vaughan Williams
19) Onder een linde groen - Sweelinck
20) Jig Fugue - Buxtehude
21) Ave Maria - Schubert



Rolf Sokol

Angela Yantorno 


Zachary Sweet


Meredith Kohn Bocek

Myra Kovary

Christopher Molloy

Lisa Fenwick


 Annette Richards

David Yearsley

Dr. William Cowdery
607-257-2539 or 607-255-4011


Susan Smith

Dr. William Cowdery
607-257-2539 or 607-255-4011

Andrew Westphal

Group Musicians

Angela Jane Yantorno Quartet

Candle Light Music (string quartet)

Finger Lakes String Quartet

Classical Guitar and Guitar

Bob Piorun (also flute, harmonica, vocalist for hire)

Dave Allen Coestner

Isaac Sharp

Jeff Miller