Thursday, November 29, 2018

The Feast of St Cecilia in Paris with the Schola Sainte-Cécile

In celebration of their patronal feast this year, the Schola Sainte-Cécile sang the Messe solennelle of Charles Gounod (1818-93), also known as the Mass of St Cecilia, to honor the famous Catholic composer in this, the bicententary year of his birth. This Mass was created at the Parisian church of Saint-Eustache, and performed for the first time on the feast of St Cecilia in 1855; it was written in honor of Gounod’s father-in-law, the celebrated pianist and professor at the Paris Conservatory, Pierre-Joseph Zimmerman († October 18, 1853). Two extracts from Gounod’s oratory Mors et Vita, first published in 1885, were also sung; as described by the artist himself, “... I mention Death before Life, since Death is not only the end of an Existence (on earth) which is continual death, but the first instant of the birth of something which dies no longer.” The extract sung here from the second part depicts the adoration of Christ sitting in majesty at the Last Judgment, worshipped by the Saints, followed by two extracts of the third part, a description of the New Jerusalem and the life of the Blessed. (See the full program of the Mass and Vespers at the website of the Schola Sainte-Cécile.)

Solemn Vespers of St Cecilia.

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