Dec. 17, 2012
Concert Raises Money to Support Troops
Cheri Lamonte and Lynda MacFarland of Frontline Faith; Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military; President John Garvey; and Monsignor Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica.
In what has become a much-loved Christmas tradition, the 24th annual Christmas Concert for Charity raised approximately $9,500 to support the spiritual needs of U.S. troops.
On Friday, Dec. 7, the music of the season filled the Great Upper Church of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, which was decorated with poinsettias and delicately lit garlands and trees.
Sponsored jointly by The Catholic University of America and the Basilica, the concert featured the Choir of the Basilica, conducted by Peter Latona, director of music, and performances by musicians from the University’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor and director of CUA’s Institute of Sacred Music, conducted the Chamber Choir, University Singers, University Chorus, and the CUA Symphony Orchestra.
“We are delighted to co-host this event each year with our neighbors here at the National Shrine. It is an opportunity to celebrate our faith, share beautiful music, and to give back to those in need,” said University President John Garvey as he welcomed those in attendance. “These performances make Christmas a little brighter, and help each of us to keep Christ at the center of this holy season.”
Each year a charitable organization is chosen to receive the offering at the concert. Audience members filled every pew in the church and responded with donations to benefit the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Frontline Faith Project to assist with the distribution of MP3 players — which are preloaded with seven hours of spiritual content — to Catholic and Protestant men and women of the armed forces.
The Archdiocese for the Military Services ministers to military personnel and families, patients in Veterans Administration hospitals, and federal employees serving outside the country. The archdiocese receives no funding from the U.S. government.
In announcing these recipients of the concert proceeds, Monsignor Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica, called the Archdiocese of the Military Services “the archdiocese on which the sun never sets.”
The Chamber Choir, University Singers, University Chorus, and the CUA Symphony Orchestra performed at the Christmas Concert for Charity.
Most Rev. Timothy P. Broglio, archbishop of the Military Services, said, “It is an immense task to meet the pastoral needs” of active duty troops and veterans in all five uniformed services. He added that he was grateful for the donations, which would help Frontline Faith and the archdiocese provide the message of salvation to the “men and women who raise their right hand to defend the freedom this country enjoys at the risk of their own lives.”
He further explained that when the troops are far from home on the front lines, they are often without the benefit of the Internet, and the MP3 players enable them to hear Sunday readings, catechism, and other inspirational messages.
The concert featured the premiere of “Lux refulget,” by Joseph Santo, assistant dean of academics and graduate studies at the School of Music.
Other works included Gibbons’ “This Is The Record of John” with tenor Alexander Wolniak; Martin Dalby’s “Mater salutaris;” Colin Mawby’s “Ave verum corpus;” David Willcocks’ setting of “Masters in This Hall;” Leo Nestor’s “Sing Lullaby” with Rick Christman, clinical assistant professor, tenor; Praetorius’ “Psallite Unigenito” in a setting by Helmut Kickton; Randall Thompson’s “The Carol of the Rose” from The Place of the Blest; and Joseph Eybler’s “Reges Tharsis et insulae.”
During the concert, the audience stood and joined the chorus, orchestra, and the great organs of the Basilica in singing the traditional carols “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.” The concert concluded with “Hallelujah” from Handel’s “Messiah” in Mozart’s orchestration.
“I am in awe,” said Cheri Lamonte, founder and executive director of Frontline Faith, following the concert. “To be in this spectacular Basilica praising God with beautiful music during the Advent season, there really couldn’t be a happier time.
“The troops need spiritual support. We hear from them all the time. They tell us how comforting it is to be able to hear a Mass or pray the Rosary. They tell us, ‘How can I be in battle and not know Jesus is with me.’ We are so thankful for this donation,” said Lamonte.
The concert will air on EWTN on Sunday, Dec. 23, at 4 p.m.; Tuesday, Dec. 25, at 11 p.m.; and Monday, Dec. 31, at 11 p.m., Eastern time. The concert will also air locally on WHUT TV32 on December 24 at 10 p.m.