Little did the choristers of St. Andrew’s Academy know what an eventful and enjoyable year of singing awaited them this last school year. They were aware of an invitation to sing with the Susanville Symphony, at the 2006 Christmas Concert, but they didn’t know the other opportunities to be faced during the rest of the year.
The choir began the year by working on William Byrd’s arrangement of Ave Verum Corpus, “Hail, true body,” and sang that anthem at a wedding in October and then again at a funeral the same month. The funeral was for Marie Foos, the grandmother of the academy’s headmaster, who expressed his deep thanksgiving for the choir’s participation. The choir has sung the service music and anthems at a number of funerals over the years, including the funeral of the father of this year’s graduate. The choir also sang for graduation this year, and for every graduation so far. It has been a faithful minister of comfort and joy for many people over the years.
When the music for the Symphony concert arrived, the choristers worked harder than ever to learn the difficult piece. The hard work paid off, as the piece was a highlight of everyone who spoke of the concert with the Symphony. The choir was especially tickled that the concert was the world premier of that piece, a arrangement for orchestra and four-part choir of O Come, O Come Emmanuel by conductor Benjamin Wade. Said the Lassen County Times: “The academy choir joined the symphony and moved the audience to tears, exuberant applause, and a well-deserved standing ovation.”
The choir barely had a chance to relax before Hilary Term began in January and they were working on their anchor piece for the year, Byrd’s Mass In Three Voices. This Mass, though set only for Soprano, Alto, and Bass, was a great stretch for the choristers, who again worked harder than ever, with extra practices, to pull 25 minutes of straight singing together in time for the March Winter Concert. All agreed that this concert was the best to date, and the audience was enthusiastic and encouraging.
But 25 minutes was only half what the choir had to sing in the Spring, after being invited to Pepperdine University’s The Ascending Voice: An International Symposium of Sacred A Cappella Music. St. Andrew’s was the only Anglican choir represented at the symposium, so the choristers got to participate within a range of other choral traditions, including Russian, Byzantine, and Church of Christ.
The Choir performed on the afternoon of June 5. From plainsong to Anglican chant to hymns to service music to anthems, the range of the Anglican Choral Tradition was explored, with the audience joining the choir for two hymns and a canticle. The choir concluded the concert with Byrd’s Mass, which showed the collegiate and cathedral traditions of Anglican Choral Music.
In order to make the trip financially feasible, the trip to Pepperdine was turned into a California Choir Tour. The highlights included singing in the beautiful English country Church building at St. Luke’s in Santa Ana and the wonderful acoustic space of St. Mary’s in Hollywood as well as singing for Christ the King Church in Atascadero, which parish is a faithful supporter of St. Andrew’s Academy and a longtime friend of many of the staff. The choir sang a concert for Trinity Presbyterian Church in San Luis Obispo and then enjoyed a night on the town and burgers after the concert. Dr. Brian Kay, who sits on the board of directors for St. Andrew’s Academy is the pastor of Trinity Presbyterian.
In addition to singing seven concerts in eight days, the students toured California State University in San Luis Obispo and Pepperdine University and played for an afternoon at Pismo Beach.
In sum, the year was a full and rewarding one for the choir, and we look forward to next year’s challenges and opportunities.
This article was published in the ’06-’07 year end edition of The Standard.