Choir accepting applications for scholarships Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Dick Jones, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, Feb. 07, 2019 -- 12:00 AM

MADISON -- The Madison Diocesan Choir is now accepting applications for the 2019 Youth Pastoral Musician Scholarships with hopes of building on the success of the initiative’s inaugural year.

Middle and high school students active in their parish music ministries have an opportunity to win $500 scholarships that they can use to attend an approved summer music clinic.

Encourage applications

If you are a student who sings in your church choir or serves as cantor, Elizabeth White says you should apply. A scholarship winner last year, she is a choir member and cantor at St. Patrick Parish in Cottage Grove

“I definitely would recommend others take advantage of the scholarship,” White said. “This experience has been really amazing and beneficial for my voice and for my faith.”

If you play an instrument and do so regularly for your parish, violinist Mary Hsu of Our Lady Queen of Peach Parish in Madison also urges you to apply.

“I would absolutely encourage others to take advantage of this scholarship,” said Hsu, another scholarship winner last year.

Parish directors can help

If you are a parish music director, like Tammy Nordman, and you know a student who would be a good candidate, she recommends you work with the student to submit an application.

“The value of this scholarship is immense,” said Nordman, who accompanies Elizabeth White at St. Patrick Parish in Cottage Grove. “As a former summer music clinic participant many years ago, I would not have been able to attend the clinic at the University of Wisconsin Madison without scholarship help from my school at that time.”

In complete agreement is Amy Yanzer, director of liturgy and pastoral music at Our Lady Queen of Peace. She accompanies violinist Mary Hsu and helped Mary with her application.

“I think it’s valuable to train our young people to be really excellent musicians and to use those skills in our liturgies,” Yanzer said. “It’s wonderful to have natural talent and gifts that you can share. But when you can learn more about your craft and really become excellent at it, it just takes things to another level, and that’s what I see with Mary. She’s such a good musician that she can add that tenderness and that expressivity in her playing to any church hymn, or even the Gloria, and that just brings that music that we sing and pray with to life.”

Donors appreciated

Finally, as a parishioner, perhaps you heard a young musician perform during Mass and found the service more uplifting and prayerful. You should consider encouraging him or her to apply, or as an alternative, you may prefer to make a contribution to the Diocesan Choir in support of this promising initiative so beneficial to young musicians.

In launching the program last year, the choir anticipated awarding only two scholarships. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, the choir was able to double that, sending four students to summer music clinics.

In addition to Hsu and White, the first year winners were Laura Hinterberg of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison and Elizabeth TenBarge of St. Thomas Parish in Poynette.

Linda Galang, scholarship committee chair, and Patrick Gorman, diocesan choir director, expressed hope that another benefactor or two might step forward so that the choir can sustain the initiative and award as many as four scholarships again this year.

“I can’t think of a better way to inspire and encourage young musicians to develop their talent, share their gift, and grow in faith,” said Gorman, also director of the diocesan Offce of Worship. “Not only do they benefit as young adults, the whole parish community does, participating in liturgical services with music that is more beautiful and prayerful.”

Galang said she was heartened by thank you notes last year’s winners sent the scholarship committee.

“They were very appreciative and excited, as are we excited now in offering scholarship opportunities again this year,” Galang said. “Participation in music ministry is a way for them to grow closer to God themselves as well as support prayer within their congregation.”

How to apply

Galang and Gorman are hopeful more students will apply this year, and in anticipation of greater interest, the choir has made it easier to apply. Eligibility requirements, application forms and instructions, plus a helpful Q&A section, are all available online at https:/

Once completed, they can be submitted by regular post or email ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). Applications must be postmarked no later than the April 1, 2019, deadline.

The 2019 winners will be honored during the choir’s spring concert on Friday, May 17, in the Chapel at Holy Name Heights, starting at 7 p.m.

This year, the choir has made it easier for patrons to make a donation, either in support of the scholarships or the choir in general. An online donation is quick and easy. Simply use the donation link on the Diocesan Choir website: https://madison

Camps attended

While the UW-Madison Summer Music Clinic is perhaps the premiere camp, scholarship winners have other options. Elizabeth White attended the UW-Whitewater Solo Voice Camp, where she received valuable lessons from several instructors on classical technique and performance.

“The solo camp gave me insight into the world of classical music, which I had not experienced a whole lot before,” she said “This helped me to strengthen my head voice and project my voice into more of a warm and pure tone. The feedback and appreciation from other church members has helped me to feel more connected with the parish community.”

When the UW-Whitewater camp ended with a recital, White sang Unusual Way from the musical Nine and Giovanni Bononcini’s aria Non Posso Disperar. She has been singing, either with the choir or as a cantor, at St. Patrick Parish for more than three years, and she plans to pursue a musical theater degree in college.

“I enjoy singing as a cantor mostly because of the people I am able to work with,” she said. “I have gotten to know Tammy Nordman, the music director, very well, and I have also been able to collaborate with other cantors and choir members. I believe my faith has become stronger. I have been able to connect more with God because of my singing.”

Nordman can’t say enough about Elizabeth and the scholarship opportunities available to others.

“I have enjoyed seeing Elizabeth grow in confidence as a cantor over the last couple of years,” she said. “I know she enjoyed her summer music clinic experience very much. I think she is a good role model for younger students in our parish that might want to try cantoring in the future. She is more confident and just seems more comfortable leading the assembly.”

Nordman recalled how much a summer music clinic helped her as young musician years ago, and said she is grateful to the choir and its contributors for providing such opportunities today to young talented musicians.

“By providing our student musicians this support, we show them we value their contributions in parish music ministry and want to see them succeed,” she said.

Mary Hsu attended the UW-Madison summer music clinic, and among the things she learned was not to let the desire for perfection hinder what is possible and perhaps more satisfying in its way.

“Music is most alive when it is heartfelt and connects with both the audience and the performer, rather than when it is technically perfect,” she said.

The clinic also concluded with performances, and Hsu got to perform Tchaikovsky’s Marche Slave and Marquez’s Danzon No. 2 in orchestra.

“What I really enjoy about serving as a pastoral musician is that I can share what I love with people of my church,” she said. “I think that music brings us all together in a special way.”


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