Graham Meyer is a writer, editor, composer, and crossword puzzle constructor based in Chicago. He reviews restaurants for Crain’s Chicago Business and covers classical and new music for Chicago magazine. His music has been performed by Musae and the Princeton Katzenjammers. His puzzles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times and The New York Sun.


There aren’t many places that bring together Darth Vader, a dead president, a moon rock, and a 12-ton bell.

Washington National Cathedral—officially the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul—has them all, as well as a 53-bell carillon, nine chapels, hundreds of stained-glass windows, thousands of works of needlepoint, the area’s largest pipe organ, and stone carvings too numerous to count.

September 1, 2007

A feature on the history of the Washington National Cathedral, written for its 100th anniversary. Standing up in the carillon looking out at D.C. beneath compensates for a lot of career frustrations.

The clock in DC’s Verizon Center counts down to two seconds. Trailing by two points, University of Connecticut guard Denham Brown comes down the court and pulls up at the three-point line. He shoots, and as the ball arcs toward the basket, the buzzer sounds. The ball, still alive on borrowed time, comes down on the rim, then bounces away.

Game over. Connecticut, the nation’s number-one team, exits the 2006 NCAA basketball tournament. George Mason University, nobody’s pick to win anything, heads to the Final Four.

About 20 miles west of the Verizon Center, on George Mason’s main campus in Fairfax, the phones start ringing—and don’t stop. Anxious to tell a Cinderella story, reporters want to know: “What is George Mason University?”

April 1, 2007

A profile of George Mason University, the largest public college in Virginia, a year after its unlikely run to the Final Four.

Pipe organs are the prima donnas of instrumental music—capable of beautiful sounds but very high-maintenance. Thousands of individually tuned pipes animated by the organist’s hands and feet make possible music of sublime complexity and subtlety. They also require a lot of attention because of their many components, including delicate mechanical interfaces and electrical wires that would run to miles if laid end to end.

April 1, 2007

A round-up of the D.C. area’s greatest pipe organs. I think every organist I interviewed for this story asked me, genuinely confused, “How did you decide to write about pipe organs?”