Madison Diocesan Choir presents Spring Concert Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Mary C. Uhler, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Apr. 28, 2016 -- 12:00 AM

Madison Diocesan Choir Spring Concert

Theme: “Built on a Rock”
Friday, May 6, 7 p.m.
Bishop O’Connor Center,            702 S. High Point Rd., Madison

Wheelchair accessible. Concert is free; freewill offerings appreciated to support choir’s music ministry.

MADISON -- “Built on a Rock” is the theme of the Madison Diocesan Choir’s Spring Concert to be presented on Friday, May 6, at 7 p.m. in the chapel of the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Center, 702 S. High Point Rd.

Choir Director Dr. Patrick Gorman said the theme points to Christ as our rock and the cornerstone of our faith as we look forward to our heavenly home. “We’ve taken the theme, ‘Built on a Rock,’ and selected Scripture readings and songs based on the theme,” he said.

Scripture readings, congregational singing

Reminiscent of the choir’s Festival of Lessons and Carols held during the Advent season, the concert will feature four Scripture readings, each followed by songs sung by the choir.

There will also be several hymns sung by the congregation and the choir, giving people in the audience a chance to sing out with the choir. “The congregational hymns are ones people are familiar with,” noted Gorman.

They include Christ is made the sure foundation; Church of God, Elect and Glorious; Built on a Rock; and The Church’s One Foundation.

Choir’s repertoire

Gorman explained the choir’s part of the concert, “We start with a classic repertoire by historic composers, then we do contemporary pieces, and conclude with African-American spirituals.”

The classic pieces include Praise ye the Lord by Hugo Distler (1908-1942), O how amiable by Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958), Verleih uns Frieden by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847), and the Hallelujah Chorus by G.F. Handel (1685-1759).

Those who have attended previous Diocesan Choir concerts will remember the stirring performance of the Hallelujah Chorus, and those who’ve never heard it won’t want to miss it this year.

The contemporary pieces include For the beauty of the earth by John Rutter (born 1945), In Flanders’ Fields by Shephen Chatman (born 1950), and the Prayer of St. Francis by William Beckstrand, a Wisconsin composer with Madison ties. “This is the best setting of that piece,” said Gorman.

He also noted that Stephen Chatman is a Madison native, so it was fitting to use his piece.

The final group of songs are African-American spirituals. Gorman said the choir especially likes Precious Lord, take my hand, a traditional American song arranged by Roy Ringwald. The other pieces include I got a home in-a that rock, Elijah Rock, Soon I will be done, and Ev’ry time I feel the Spirit.

The choir will conclude the concert with its traditional Blessing of Aaron.

Diocesan Choir members

The Diocesan Choir includes 64 members, with about half of them coming from Madison area parishes and others coming from parishes in such cities as Monroe, Sauk City, Stoughton, and Waterloo. Some drive an hour to participate in the choir.

“Membership is open to anyone in the diocese who can sing,” said Gorman. The choir rehearses every Tuesday at the Bishop O’Connor Center.

Gorman said that he and the choir are happy that they can continue to sing in the O’Connor Center chapel. “It’s so nice to give concerts here,” he said. “It’s such a great place to sing. Someday we hope to have a good organ here.”

He praised Glenn Schuster, who is the assistant director and accompanist, playing both organ and piano. “He’s a talented guy. We’re fortunate he works with us,” said Gorman.

Schuster is also organist at the Cathedral Parish in Madison.

There is no charge for the concert, but a free will offering will be accepted. This year there will be no reception following the concert.