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St. Paul's Choir School
|St. Paul's Choir School|
29 Mount Auburn Street
|Type||Private, Day, Choir school|
|Motto||Repleatur os meum laude tua
("Let my mouth be filled with Your praise")
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic|
|Headmaster||Dr. Thomas Eric Haferd|
|Pastor||Rev. William T. Kelly|
|Director of Music||James Kennerley|
|Enrollment||up to 65|
The Church of St. Paul (Harvard Square), where
St. Paul's Choir School is located
St. Paul's Choir School is a Catholic choir school located at the Church of St. Paul, Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Founded in 1963, the middle school for boys in third through eighth grades is the only boys' choir school in the United States of America affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. The Choir School educates and trains the choirboys who sing soprano in the choir of St. Paul's, a choir of boys and men. The choir sings for liturgical services at St. Paul's Church and performs primarily in and around the Boston area. It is located within the Archdiocese of Boston.
St. Paul's Choir is a traditional church choir of boys and men. The choir is composed of boys in grades 5-8 who attend St. Paul's Choir School, and men who are auditioned from local music schools such as Longy, New England Conservatory, and Boston Conservatory. Boys have been singing at St. Paul's since the church was built in 1923, and the choir has built a reputation for singing church music from Gregorian chant to contemporary works. Chiefly a liturgical choir, the boys have also appeared with numerous orchestras in and around Boston, and the full choir is in frequent demand to sing at concerts, weddings and funerals throughout the year.
St. Paul's Choir School was founded in 1963 by Theodore Marier and Monsignor Augustine F. Hickey as the result of the Vatican's 1958 Instruction on Sacred Music and Sacred Liturgy De musica sacra, which declared that every effort should be made that city center churches have their own boys' choir school. St. Paul's Choir School started in September with twenty-five fifth- through eighth-grade students chosen from throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. The school was designed as a four-year course for students of academic ability and musical talent, assigning two periods of each school day to music, as well as additional rehearsals with the men of the choir. The music program included sight reading, appreciation, theory, history, and instrumental studies. Under Marier's direction, the boys sang, initially with members of the Harvard Catholic Club, and later with the Schola Cantorum of St. Paul's, which had been formed years earlier by Marier to sing Gregorian chant at Mass. Harvard students also helped out with the recreation program.
During the school's first period, the choir made guest appearances with the Boston Symphony Orchestra at Symphony Hall and at Tanglewood, the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Handel and Haydn Society. They additionally performed the Nutcracker Suite annually with the Boston Ballet, directed by Arthur Fiedler.
During Marier's tenure, the school was renamed as the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School. After the school's 50th anniversary it returned to its original name.
Following Marier's retirement from the Choir School in 1986, John Dunn assumed the position as director of music, having been involved in the church's music program since 1960 when he was a student at Harvard. He combined the roles of director of music of St. Paul Church and headmaster of the school, leading the choir in recordings, concerts, and tours throughout the final years of the twentieth century. Dunn maintained a consistent and increased enrollment at and oversaw the move to a new educational facility in 1991. Towards the end of his tenure in 2007, the school became fully accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
In 2010, after an international search, John Robinson (Church Musician), Assistant Organist at Canterbury Cathedral, was appointed Director of Music. Robinson has worked to raise awareness of the Choir of St. Paul's as a primarily liturgical choir, increasing the number of sung liturgies and enlarging the repertoire of daily Mass music for boys' voices and for boys and men. Additionally, he has overseen the introduction of professional male singers to the Choir of St. Paul's and the implementation of the music theory curriculum by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Beginning with the 2012 academic year, the school added a fourth-grade level. It is also a member of the International Boys' Schools Coalition (IBSC).
In 2015 the Choir of St. Paul's Church came to national and international recognition after the release of their debut professional recording 'Christmas in Harvard Square'. This universally acclaimed recording sold in large numbers, and brought awareness of the choir to a new level. In September 2017 the choir released their second album, 'Ave Maria in Harvard Square'.
John Robinson resigned as the Director of Music after his 9th year of teaching at the school in June 2019 and moved to Blackburn Cathedral in England. His successor is James Kennerley.
Students attend the choir school full-time, completing a rigorous academic program in addition to daily rehearsals and singing for the liturgy several times each week. The students are divided into three choirs: the Pre-choristers (boys who are in choral training), the Choristers (fifth to eighth graders who sing with the professional men as The Choir of St. Paul's), and the Chorus (boys whose voices are changing, or who enter as Chorus members, instead of Pre-Choristers). The Choristers sing four weekday masses (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 12.10 p.m.) each week, Thursday evening vespers, as well as the Sunday 11:00 High Mass with the professional men. The Chorus sing at the First Friday 12.10 Mass each month, and other special events. Each student's tuition is supplemented by a "working scholarship," whereby the choristers are expected to sing at weddings, funerals and concerts throughout the school year.
All students study mathematics, science, literature, language arts, social studies, geography, religion, music theory, and french. Latin will be reintroduced to the curriculum in 2018-2019. In addition to these academic subjects, all students study the piano, and several also study the organ. Opportunities to perform include regular informal concerts, as well as biannual adjudications. Though the school does not participate in any sports leagues, there is a school basketball team that competes against other Catholic schools in exhibition games. Many students participate in sports outside of school.
As of 2017, student enrollment at the school is approximately 45. New students are admitted to the third grade based on the results of a vocal audition, application and interview. Students commute to Harvard Square from various cities and towns throughout the greater Boston area, sometimes traveling more than an hour each way. Most students at the Choir School are Roman Catholic and many have previously attended parochial schools.
The choir has traveled over the years to sing in Chicago, Montreal, Washington, DC, and Rome. They have also been to Mexico City as well as a tour of Germany and Austria in February 2020. In 2005, the choir sang in Rome for Masses at St. Peter's Basilica and at the Church of Santa Susanna and again in 2013 before an audience with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square and a performance in Assisi. The choir has sung at Mass on multiple occasions at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, DC, most recently in January 2020. The choir has also performed at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City in 2012.
Performances and recordings
- With the Boston Symphony Orchestra:
- Hector Berlioz: The Damnation of Faust at Carnegie Hall and Symphony Hall, Boston
- Johann Sebastian Bach: St. Matthew Passion at Tanglewood
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 3 at Carnegie Hall
- Gustav Mahler: Symphony No. 8
- Arthur Honegger: Joan of Arc at the Stake
- Giacomo Puccini: Tosca
- Carl Orff: Carmina Burana
- With the Opera Company of Boston at Boston Opera House:
(2013)|Boston Lyric Opera]]:
- (2014) With the Boston Symphony Orchestra:
- (2017) With the Boston Symphony Orchestra:
- (2017) With the Boston POPS Orchestra:
- (2018) With the Boston Symphony Orchestra:
- Christmas in Harvard Square | The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School (2014)
- Ave Maria | The Boys of St. Paul's Choir School (2017)
- Robert Skeris (Fall 2001). "Theodore N. Marier (1912-2001)" (PDF). Sacred Music. Church Music Association of America: 5.
- "Choir School celebrates anniversary with Bishop Uglietto". The Pilot. April 9, 2013.
- Radsken, Jill (December 13, 1992). "Hark, the student 'angels' sing...". Boston Herald. p. 037.
- Rothstein, Edward (January 30, 1983). "Concert: Ozawa's 'Faust'". New York Times.
- Dyer, Richard (January 22, 1983). "Soloists excel in BSO's Faust". Boston Globe.
- Pincus, Andrew L. (August 11, 1985). "Tanglewood stages Bach's 'St. Matthew Passion'". New York Times.
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