Monday, April 24, 2017

Introducing the Metropolitan Catholic Chorale

I am delighted to share with readers of the NLM in the New York metro area and beyond a little bit about a new initiative.

The Metropolitan Catholic Chorale (MCC) is dedicated to singing the Catholic Church’s treasury of sacred music—Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony—in the context of the sacred liturgy in the New York metropolitan region, and to helping others discover, understand, and love the Church’s sacred music. In keeping with the purpose of sacred music, our aim is to glorify God and sanctify and edify those who hear us.

The MCC desires to serve well both the parishes we visit and the singers who join our ranks. Following in the footsteps of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale in Minnesota, we also hope this project will serve as a model for those looking to promote the renewal of sacred music in their own communities.

The Metropolitan Catholic Chorale will sing for Mass for the first time during this, our inaugural season, on Tuesday, April 25th, the feast of St. Mark, at 8:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Rocco in Glen Cove, New York (18 3rd Street). All are cordially invited to attend. The MCC will sing the Missa Tertii Toni by Rodrigo de Ceballos (1525-1591), motets by John Stainer and William Byrd, and Gregorian chant Mass propers. The Mass will be followed by a traditional rogation procession which includes chanted Psalms and litanies. This Mass at St. Rocco’s follows a successful workshop on the basics of reading and singing Gregorian chant that was held at the parish on April 1st. The workshop was attended by about 30 singers from the parish and area music directors.

The next Mass this semester for which we will sing will be a Marian votive Mass on Tuesday, May 16th at 7:00 p.m. at the Church of St. Barnabas (Bronx, New York), at which we will sing Gregorian and English propers, motets by Allegri and Byrd, hymnody, and the Missa Che fa oggi il mio sole by Gregorio Allegri.
What is the MCC?

The MCC is a mixed choral ensemble under the direction of Dr. Jennifer Donelson, Director of Sacred Music at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie). Members of the auditioned ensemble are singers from around the metropolitan New York region who want to sing Gregorian chant and sacred polyphonic works, developing both their skills as choral singers as well as their understanding of the Church’s teachings on sacred music.

Rather than singing the Church’s sacred music in concert settings, our aim is to learn how better to pray at the Church’s sacred liturgy through singing its sacred music. To do this, we pursue musical excellence in tandem with a deeper understanding of the theological content, historical context, and liturgical meaning of the texts and music that we sing.

How often and where does the MCC rehearse and sing?

We rehearse weekly at St. Barnabas Church in Woodlawn (Bronx, NY) on Tuesdays from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. throughout the academic year. Each semester, we accept two invitations from parishes in the metropolitan area to sing a solemn Mass. The Masses are arranged according to the schedules of both the host parish and the singers of the MCC. Masses are usually on a weekday evening so that music directors do not have scheduling conflicts with their weekend responsibilities.

What sort of outreach does the MCC do?

We strive to help other people encounter Christ through beautiful sacred music and the graces that flow from the Church’s sacred liturgy. In addition to the MCC singing for a Mass, the ensemble’s director is able to offer talks and/or workshops on sacred music and Gregorian chant in the host parish in preparation for a visit of the MCC. These talks and workshops can be tailored to a general parish audience or a smaller group like the parish choir or youth group.

Especially for parishes with limited financial resources, the MCC desires to serve as a resource to help parishioners better understand the Church’s teachings on sacred music. The singing, talks, and workshops of the MCC can also serve as a catalyst for growth in a larger program of development of a parish’s sacred music program, educating members of the choir, and inspiring ideas for the advancement of a program.

What is the MCC’s repertoire?

We focus mostly on Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony (masses and motets), but we also sing choral works of excellence from all eras, including works by living composers, as well as chant in the vernacular (Spanish and English) and excellent hymnody. The MCC also places special emphasis on singing classical choral music from the great cathedrals of Latin America.

How do I join the MCC?

Our roster of singers is already set for the spring 2017 semester, but we'll be holding auditions again in August 2017 for the 2017-2018 season. Stay tuned for more information at our website or Facebook page. We'd love to have you join us!

How do I find out more information or invite the MCC to my parish?

More information is available here. There is no fee for hosting the MCC in your parish.

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