Monday evenings with Johann, Felix and Heinz

As much as I love being Augustinian friar and a Catholic priest, there is something else that gives me great joy as well.  Nearly every Monday evening since 1997 I have spent two hours singing with a group of 40 to 60 men and women, attempting to master selections from the standard classical choral repertoire.  We take off for the summer months, and depending upon the group, have our winter concert in either December or January and our spring concert usually in May. 

From January of 1997 until May of 2008, that group was the Andover Choral Society of Andover, Massachusetts.  Memorable performances were: Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle, Verdi's Requiem, Mozart's Requiem, Brahms's Ein deutsches Requiem, Orff's Carmina Burana, Mendelssohn's Elijah, and many more.

In May of 2008 I moved to Maggie Valley N.C., where I sang with that Haywood Community Chorus for two concerts (and also snuck back to Andover for a second Elijah in January of ’09).  Last year I spent another full year with ACS when I lived from August 2009 to August 2010 in Massachusetts again. 

Liam. in tux. with hair.
Now, since September the Richmond Choral Society of Staten Island, NY is my Monday night haven.  Less than 2 weeks to go until our concert, there is concern about whether we will completely master the material before Dec. 5th, but I’m not too worried.  On the contrary, there were so many times last evening when I found myself smiling inwardly (and probably outwardly too) as I could hear the (usually) 4 parts (but often 5 or 6 parts) coming together to form such beautiful music.  I walked out of there fully relaxed and light-hearted last night.  These pieces are technically challenging.  Not only are some of the harmonies difficult, but the fugues and contrapuntal juxtapositionings can be extremely complex.  This is especially true of the only piece we are doing by a contemporary composer, the German Heinz Werner Zimmermann.  At ACS we only sang the works of old dead guys. 

I love the feeling of satisfaction I get from working out difficult passages with the men in my own (bass) section and in harmony and counterpoint with the other sections.  The sense of accomplishment when you know that your own hard work and that of the others in the group are coming together to form a thing of beauty is extremely exhilarating!  I wonder has anyone done research about endorphins and the like that are released into the bloodstream and/or flood the brain when this sort of thing happens? 

Besides the Zimmermann, we are also doing J.S. Bach’s Missa Brevis (BWV 234), Felix Mendelssohn’s Jubilate Op. 9 No. 2 and a number of familiar Christmas carols. 

I have tickets if you are interested.  The concert is at St. Peter’s Church (where Msgr. Jim Dorney is pastor – the priest who installed me last week) on Sunday afternoon, Dec. 5 at 5 PM.  
Click HERE for an article about the concert in the Staten Island Advance

[By the way, I love wearing my tux!] 

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