The Catholic University of America

Aug. 25, 2015

Catholic University Musicians to Perform During Canonization Mass

 
  CUA Musicians rehearse before the school's 50th anniversary concert last spring.  

Students, alumni, and faculty members from the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music will be among the talented local musicians providing music as the Pope celebrates the canonization Mass of Blessed Junípero Serra this September at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Sept. 23 Mass will include performances by the CUA Symphony Orchestra as well as five local choirs, including the Catholic University Chamber Choir. The orchestra will perform under the direction of Simeone Tartaglione, the orchestra’s music director. The Chamber Choir will be conducted by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor and director of choral studies and CUA’s Institute of Sacred Music.

Additionally, several alumni and faculty members have composed original works for the visit, including Nestor. Nestor’s compositions for the Mass include the introit, the communion antiphon, and an original work that will be performed during the communion rite.

Thomas Stehle, director of music ministries for the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, is head of planning of music for the papal visit. In total, he said there will be 240 singers performing during the canonization Mass. The other choirs to perform include the Choir of the Basilica, a gospel choir, an intercultural choir, an auditioned archdiocesan choir. The Washington Symphonic Brass will also perform.

Prior to Mass, there will be 75 minutes of prelude music in which each choir as well as the CUA Orchestra will perform individually and together.

Stehle said the music chosen for the Mass will represent the life of Junípero Serra, the legacy of St. Francis of Assisi, and the diversity of cultures represented in Washington and throughout the United States. Though the principal language of the Mass is Spanish, many other languages and cultures will also be represented, including French, English, Latin, Vietnamese, Tagalog, and Xhosa (the language sometimes called Afrikaans).

Grayson Wagstaff, dean of the School of Music and director of the Latin American Music Center, noted the importance of CUA students performing music by Manuel de Zumaya, whom he called “one of the greatest composers of Colonial Mexico.”

“This beautiful Spanish texted music for the Catholic office liturgy of Matins is the kind of music that Serra would have heard when he travelled to Mexico City and then may have brought with him to California while founding missions,” Wagstaff said. “Few other universities in the United States regularly perform works of this kind.”

“The idea is that people experiencing this Mass, no matter where they’re from, can be both connected to the Universal church and recognize that the voice and culture they bring is also represented here,” said Stehle. “Something about hearing from different cultures reminds us that we’re not one thing. Even though we are united in Christ, we have many faces, many hues, many languages, and many musical expressions that make up this one body.”

 

 

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