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Cathedral Arts Chorale links music, visual arts with the sacred space of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis

Program will link music, visual arts with the sacred space of the cathedral

St. Louis Cathedral Concerts is launching a new program that will link music and the visual arts with the sacred space of the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis.

The first project of Cathedral Arts: A Sacred Art Academy is the establishment of a new concert performance choir. The Cathedral Arts Chorale is a community-based adult choir that will perform major sacred works in the cathedral basilica and will work with other artists who are visiting as part of the Cathedral Concerts Series.

Choral music conductor, composer and producer Michael Engelhardt is the new choir director. Auditions will be held in late March, with initial performances scheduled for Christmas of 2020 and spring of 2021. (See related.)

Engelhardt, who has conducted collegiate-level choirs and composed music for more than two decades, said the choir is expected to be from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds.

The cathedral basilica offers a unique accoustical setting that creates a spiritually moving experience, both for the performers and audience, said Engelhardt, a member of St. Gabriel the Archangel Parish in St. Louis. “A lot of singers and musicians in general learn how to play or perform in different accoustical settings,” he said. “There are some different technical aspects, but once you get it, it’s such a fun space.”

Cathedral Concerts director Scott Kennebeck said the Cathedral Arts program will expand upon the community engagement and education efforts that Cathedral Concerts has been offering for the past 27 years. This is the first time that Cathedral Concerts has produced its own community-based performance choir.

“This choir will have the opportunity to do workshops and master classes with the artists that we bring in, like Tenebrae and VOCES8,” Kennebeck said. “We have a resident choir now that will have the opportunity to work with artists of such high caliber, and that is invaluable for their ongoing education.”

Plans are to explore the visual arts, including eventually offering community classes in mosaic art, stained glass, architecture, sculpture and religious art restoration techniques. Cathedral Concerts is seeking donors to help underwrite the effort.

“We thought why just stop with music? There’s all kinds of artistic undertakings that have made this cathedral the great, magnificent space that it is,” Kennebeck said. “I don’t think there’s anything like this out there that I’m aware of. We want to teach the next generation of artists and artisans — people who can take care of existing places like the cathedral.”

Engelhardt said the program will pull back the curtain on the beauty of the cathedral basilica and show “what goes into making the cathedral the sacred space that it is. I’m surprised at how many people in St. Louis have never been here. It’s a cultural gem. Of course, the doors are always open, but programs like this can help people gain better access to it and pique their curiosity.”

Cathedral Arts Chorale auditions

Auditions for Cathedral Concerts’ new Cathedral Arts Chorale will take place on two Saturdays, March 21 and 28, at the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis. The chorale’s mission is to perform major sacred works with orchestra in the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis, and is open to adults 18 and older. All voice types are needed. There will be 12 paid lead positions, and 80 volunteer positions. Previous chorale experience is preferred.

To schedule an audition, call (314) 533-7662. Additional audition information is available at cathedralconcerts.org/ cathedral-arts-chorale/.

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