It has been said that music and art are the eyes into the very heart of God. Music comforts us in times of need, inspires us in times of joy, and unites us in times of strife in ways which the spoken word cannot. Through our participation by singing or quietly listening while others sing, music enables us to experience the deepest mysteries of God by uniting us in prayer.
The music at St. Francis Xavier Cathedral encompasses works from Medieval, through the Renaissance, Classical, Romantic and up to today’s 21st Century composers. Excellent acoustics enhance the singing of the assembly, the choirs and the sound of the pipe organ in the Gallery.
The role of the choir in the Catholic Church is recognized as one of its greatest treasures. Todays choirs have multiple roles. To preserve the heritage of great music from the early church and beyond, to employ new music relevant to today’s needs and to augment and assist the assembly in the liturgy.
The Cathedral Choir is open to all youth and adults who have a desire to sing and help lead the liturgy at the 11:00 a.m. Mass each Sunday. Music Schedule Rehearsals are on Wednesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. and on Sunday mornings at 10:15 from August through May, with occasional special rehearsals when needed. Rehearsal Schedule The choir sings from an extensive library which is always growing as exciting new works are published. They also lead special services throughout the year, Diocesan and otherwise, and present a major work with orchestra once a year.
On the first Wednesday of each month, choir members birthdays are celebrated with a party immediately following rehearsal. Many other opportunities for fellowship are available also throughout the course of the year.
The choir took part in a pilgrimage to Ireland in July 2009 with St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal Church Choir, Bartlett, Tennessee, singing Masses, Evensongs and Vespers in Cathedrals and Parish Churches in Dublin and Armagh. See pictures below.
The Cathedral Youth Choir is open to all girls 2nd grade and up and all boys 2nd grade through the voice change. Following the scheme of the Royal School of Church Music, the youth rehearse each Tuesday from 3:45 – 4:50p.m. Rehearsal Schedule (starting with refreshments/snacks) and sing with the Cathedral Choir at the 11:00 a.m. Mass approximately once each month. For more information please contact Justin Ward.
St. Francis Xavier is blessed with a team of talented Cantors who lead the assembly at all Masses each weekend. Click here for the schedule. Once a quarter, the cantors meet together with the Music Director/Organist to have dinner and rehearse the upcoming Mass Settings and Responsorial Psalms. A cantor should have a strong secure voice and the ability to read music and rehearse on their own. If you have these qualifications and you think you would like to be a cantor, please contact Mr. Justin Ward at 318-445-1451, ext. 13.
The Schola is a group of singers who meet to study, rehearse and sing Gregorian Chant for the 11:00 Mass on Sundays and for the office of Compline (click here for the latest anthem from Compline) in Latin each Sunday at 6:40 p.m. Rehearsals are on Wednesdays at 6:00 p.m. If you would like to know more about this group or would like to audition, please contact Mr. Justin Ward, Organist/Choir Director.
In 2000 under Bishop Sam Jacobs, the need for a replacement of the organ was realized. Under the leadership of Merle Vahlkamp, Music Director/Organist at the time and a committee consisting of John Benjamin, Norene Garrett, Paula DePriest, Richard Mitchell, Jack Randall, Sharon Saybe, Cindy Vanlangendonck and Fr. Edwin Rodriguez, careful study and planning were carried out and a contract was signed with The Reuter Organ Company, Lawrence Kansas and the Bishop Charles P. Greco Memorial Organ Opus 2218 was a reality. It was first played in December 2003 for the 150th Anniversary of the Cathedral and dedicated in a recital by Dr. J. Scott Bennett in 2004.
A compact disc recording entitled “Pageant, A Pipe Organ Spectacular” played by Thomas Bara is available for $15.00 through the Music Office. Please call 318.445.1451 ext. 13 to order. Selections from this CD were included in the September 21, 2009 American Public Media Show PIPEDREAMS hosted by Michael Barone.
For a picture and specifications of the organ please follow this link: The Reuter Organ Company.
A bequest from the estate of long time Parishioners Phillip and Bernice Harding made it possible for the Cathedral to purchase a Bechstein Grand Piano to use for Liturgies and Concerts. The piano was dedicated in a concert by New York Artist, Areille Levioff on Thursday, June 18, 2009.
Throughout the year, hundreds of people come to the Cathedral for musical events. For many, it will be their first encounter with the Cathedral. For others, their first connection with the Catholic Church. St. Francis Xavier Cathedral recognizes this important service to the people of Central Louisiana.“Our churches have for a very long time played an important role in the cultural life of cities and towns. Is not the church the house of the People of God? Has it not been in churches that this people has had its first aesthetic experiences in seeing the beauty of the building, its mosaics, paintings, statues, or sacred objects; in hearing organ music or the singing of the choir? Outside of liturgical celebrations there can be a place for religious music in the form of a concert. This can be an occasion offered to Christians who are no longer practicing their faith, or even to non-Christians who are seeking God, to have access to a true religious experience, beyond a simple aesthetic emotion.” (Pope John Paul II, 1987)
Through the support of private donations, St. Francis Xavier Cathedral presents some of the finest musicians available in monthly programs performed in the beauty of the Cathedral Nave. Founded by former director, Fred Graham, the Series in its Innaugural Year presented Andre’a Martin, alto, Thomas Bara, organist and the St. Thomas Church, New York City, Men’s and Boy’s Choir.
St. Elisabeth’s Episcopal and St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Choirs in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (RC) Armagh, IE following their participation in the Morning Mass on 12 July, 2009.