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FALMOUTH — A desire to sing is the only prerequisite for youth interested in taking part in a spiritual choral festival being held in Newport, Rhode Island, this coming spring.
The youth choir at the Parish of the Holy Eucharist, based at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth, is seeking new members to round out the group. Ideally, Jennifer Runge, director of music for the parish, said she would like to have 40 young people.”
Right now, she said, the youth choir, or schola, has 18 members, “but this is a new program and takes time to build.”
Anyone interested in signing up their child can contact the parish at www.pothe.org or 847-6890.
The parish, which includes the communities of Freeport, Yarmouth and Gray, is relying on a gift from the Patricia Siviski Music Endowment Fund to send the youth schola to the choral festival, which is for treble and mixed-voice Catholic youth choirs from across New England.
“(We are) looking forward to an amazing day of choral singing in an unbelievably beautiful and spiritual space,” Runge said of the festival, which will be held at the historic St. Mary’s Church. Built in the Gothic Revival style, the church boasts 42 stained glass windows, according to the church website.
Runge is looking for singers in grades 5-12, but said only the older students would be attending the choral festival in Rhode Island.
This is the first time a youth schola from the Parish of the Holy Eucharist will participate in a choral festival of this kind, according to Runge. She said the hope is for the experience to be both formational and transformational and singers of all faiths and belief systems are welcome.
The festival is being sponsored by the American Federation Pueri Cantores, which is the student choral organization of the Catholic Church.
As part of the festival, “singers (will) join together as one combined choir to sing a liturgical music repertoire spanning 1,500 years — from Gregorian chants to music of the 21st century,” the Pueri Cantores website states.
Among the goals of Pueri Cantores are “enhancing (the) spiritual well-being of singers through the performance of sacred … music (and) elevating education in the arts,” the website adds.
By participating, young singers will “gain an appreciation of plainchant, Renaissance, Baroque, romantic, and modern liturgical music set within the rich tradition of the Catholic Church,” Pueri Cantores says.
Runge sees the upcoming festival as a great opportunity for the youth choir at the Parish of the Holy Eucharist because it will be a chance “for my choristers to rehearse extraordinary repertoire for liturgy with a very well-respected guest conductor.”
In addition, she said singing with a much larger group of young people will be both fun and challenging and “the chance to travel is (always) exciting.”
Most importantly for Runge though, will be the opportunity to impress on the students that “the music we sing is not for performance. It is sung prayer and the role that these texts have in our liturgy have purpose and value. It is the utmost expression of our Catholic faith as we bring glory to God through our voices.”
“I can’t think of a more important role to play in the life of a young person than helping their Catholic faith come alive,” she said.
Runge said the music selection for the choral festival will be chosen by the organizers, but “I choose the Mass repertoire we sing at the monthly liturgy and I’m weaving in the music the singers will need to know for April’s festival as the year progresses.”
The youth choir at the Parish of the Holy Eucharist, which is based at Holy Martyrs Church in Falmouth, is looking for new members as it prepares to attend a spiritual choral festival in Rhode Island this coming spring.