Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Australian Parish Church Music Snapshot - St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral Parramatta

St Patrick's Catholic Cathedral at Parramatta has an adventurous and ambitious Church Music program, buoyed up by generous funding. The Cathedral maintains an adult Cathedral Parish Choir of 40 choristers (supplemented from Diocesan choirs for large liturgies), a Schola Cantorum which draws trainee singers from the nearby Campion University College at Toongabbie, a Music Director  / Organist / Precentor, an Assistant Organist, an Organ Scholar, and eight Cantors. The standard Sunday and weekday liturgy follows the Vatican II Novus Ordo model, with most hymns and chants in English. At solemn choral Masses on Sundays and feast days, polyphonic motets and traditional Gregorian Chant introit and communion antiphons (often in Latin) are included.

The music repertoire of St Patrick's Cathedral Choirs is almost exclusively European, with some contemporary hymns from America, and occasional items from Australian composers. Since the Cathedral is a diverse multicultural parish with 47 languages spoken, ethnic liturgies organised by community leaders are held frequently, and at these celebrations each community organises and performs its own music according to their Catholic musical traditions and languages. The ethnic liturgical musics include Samoan, Tongan, Filipino, Chinese, Polish, Maltese, Maronite Lebanese, Sudanese, and Nigerian, to name just a few.

The Catholic schools and Religious Orders of the Parramatta Diocese attend the Cathedral for special community liturgies, cooperating with the Cathedral Music Director in organising and performing their own liturgies with school or religious choirs and instrumentalists. The Royal School of Church Music holds its annual Primary Schools Choirs Festival at St Patrick's Cathedral, and the Diocese has recently funded a trainee Catholic Youth Diocesan Choir.

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