Meet Ralph Holtzhauser

Headshot of Ralph Holtzhauser
Photo by Mallory Leann Photo + Design

Ralph Holtzhauser’s love of music has always been deeply rooted in his faith, and as the diocesan music director and director of music for St. Columba Cathedral Parish, he wants to bring that joy to every parish. 

Holtzhauser started playing piano at just two years old, and at seven he played the organ for the first time at his home parish—St. Christopher’s in Rocky River, Ohio. Since those early days, Ralph has dedicated himself to spreading the Word of God through music, working as a music director for multiple parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland before joining the Diocese of Youngstown in August 2022. 

“The whole point of having music at Mass is to enhance the worship,” Holtzhauser said. “Music ebbs and flows in the Mass and that really plays a part in my own faith. St. Augustine said that ‘he who sings prays twice’, and it’s just basically intertwined in everything I do.”

While Ralph describes himself as more of a sacred music traditionalist, his primary job is to ensure that each parish has the resources and direction it requires to meet the needs of its congregation—whether the parish’s music leans toward traditional or modern. 

As anyone who has attended an event at St. Columba Cathedral knows, Holtzhauser is also responsible for directing the music at major liturgical events throughout the year, such as the annual Chrism Mass—Holtzhauser’s personal favorite event to direct—which gathers musicians from across the diocese to sing as part of the diocesan choir. 

Outside of his work for the diocese, Holtzhauser is an organ and sacred music professor at Franciscan University of Steubenville and Youngstown State University, and he travels around the country to perform at famous and culturally significant churches, such as the National Shrine of St. Paul’s Cathedral in Minnesota and the Church of St. Mary the Virgin in New York City, where he was invited to perform by famous liturgical composer David Hurd. 

Holtzhauser said that his dedication to performing so frequently is meant to instill in his students a desire to play at a high level.

If you’d like to hear Holtzhauser in action, consider attending a diocesan Mass, such as the upcoming ordinations. Or—this is another project he has been working on—keep an eye out for an album he has been working on for GIA Publications, which will feature a collection of African American worship music (

Visit to see upcoming sacred music events and for sacred music resources.

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