Community Collaboration Spotlight: The Madeleine Choir School
Q: Over the history of the school, how has The Madeleine Choir School used music to celebrate?
The Choir School was established in 1996 very much in the tradition of the European Cathedral Choir Schools, and so a very strong relationship exists between the Choir School and the Cathedral of the Madeleine. The choristers sing daily and Sunday services in the Cathedral during which their music heightens the joy of festivals and happy occasions, laments and expresses grief at personal and community loss and tragedy, and through its beauty seeks to inspire all people to more noble lives. We perform and celebrate with the great treasury of sacred music, including musical settings for the Mass of G. P. da Palestrina, W. A. Mozart, Anton Bruckner, Johannes Brahms, Francis Poulenc, Benjamin Britten and many more.
Q: Can you explain how the curriculum or day to day function of the school brings music into the students’ everyday lives and what your goals are in shaping the way the choristers relate to music?
Music permeates the day at the Choir School, from the very active early music education opportunities in the lower school, the beginning violin instruction in second and third grades, the initial chorister formation in fourth grade, the work of the various choirs in grades five through eight, music theory and music history coursework through to singing for Cathedral services and community events. By discipline, practice and study, we hope to empower students to make musical expression a natural part of their lives as future composers, performers, audience members and advocates for the arts.
Q: From a young age, the Madeleine Choir School students are exposed to a lot of monumental works and performance opportunities filled with pomp and circumstance. How does one go about imparting the historical, cultural and overall significance to the students? Discuss if music provides the context by which they can understand, relate to and appreciate the situations they are afforded (ie. Performing with Utah Symphony, Utah Opera, Mormon Tabernacle Choir)
The Annual Cathedral Concert Series and the collaboration with local musical institutions such as the Utah Symphony, Utah Opera and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir are clear highlights in the musical experience of our young people. The thrill and excitement of participation in these professional productions is highly valued by the children as they look back on their work at the Choir School. We work to be sure they understand the significance of the musical works they participate in, connecting studies in history, philosophy, literature and more with the cultural milieu from which the musical work emerged and to which it was addressed. The Symphony’s Mahler Cycle has been a great source of study and inspiration at the school.
Q: Describe the personality type of a student that is drawn to attend the Madeleine Choir School, and how music generally figures in their life.
Bright, engaged young people with a variety of interests who are open to commitment and hard work thrive in the fast-paced environment of the Choir School. Parents often report with amusement that the students are often caught singing while at play with their classmates…in Latin! Our graduates regularly applaud the discipline and work-habits they acquired during their years at the Choir School. Daily instruction, rehearsals and regular performances are a part of the experience of a student. These experiences lay the foundation for future musical and artistic engagement throughout their lives.
By Gregory A. Glenn, Pastoral Administrator, The Madeleine Choir School.
To see the Madeleine Choir School in action, check out their upcoming performances with the Utah Symphony: The Child and the Enchantments. Friday November 13, and Saturday 14 at 7:30pm, at Abravanel Hall. For more information and tickets, visit the Utah Symphony website.