The Choir – A New Mass Setting

From time to time I remember to share what we are up to as a choir. Well the latest update comes in the form of a press release! Bishop Denis Nulty is going to launch a brand new Mass setting composed by Padraig Meredith. We have been rehearsing the new Mass pieces for weeks now and next Sunday is the big day. Here’s the story:

Bishop Denis Nulty, Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin, will launch a new setting of the Mass by Kildare composer Padraig Meredith on Sunday 26 February. Mass of the People will be presented for the first time in Saint Conleth’s Parish Church, Newbridge, Co Kildare and it will be performed for the first time by local choir ‘In Caelo’ under the baton of Cora Coffey, Musical Director.

Mass of the People includes new settings of the pieces sung/spoken at every Mass – the Kyrie, the Gloria, the Gospel Acclamation, the Holy Holy, the Memorial Acclamation, the Doxology & Great Amen, and the Lamb of God. The Mass will also feature two additional pieces by Padraig Meredith including the first performance of a new psalm entitled In God Alone and a new Communion hymn Our Blessing Cup which will be performed by soloist Teresa Lynch.

Commenting on how he came to write the new Mass setting, composer Padraig Meredith said, “The Mass came about through my long association with ‘In Caelo’ choir and their Musical Director Cora Coffey. I have written many Church pieces, but I never had the kind of response from performers which I receive every time I bring ‘In Caelo’ a new piece. I wanted to thank the choir for their support over the years by composing a special piece for them, but that didn’t seem enough so I decided to compose an entire Mass setting for them. The setting is called Mass of the People because it is a gift not just for ‘In Caelo’, but for all the parishioners of Newbridge.

Padraig went on to say, “I have worked in Newbridge Parish for the past twenty-four years, first as an altar server, then as a junior sacristan, as a helper on the annual Lourdes pilgrimage, and as a choir member singing with the tenors in ‘In Caelo’. I went on to play piano for ‘In Caelo’ and eventually turned to composing for them.

“I have proudly represented Newbridge Parish at four World Youth Days in Toronto, Cologne, Sydney, and Madrid. Outside of our diocese I have also represented our parish at the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012 as a pianist and member of the chamber choir, and I also composed the official anthem for the Dublin Archdiocese Year of Evangelisation.”

Padraig went on to share some of the spirit of his local parish, saying, “Newbridge parish has a spirit which is unlike another parish. I love liturgy, all types of liturgy, from the joy of a Christmas Eve or Easter Saturday liturgy, to the sombre and muted mood of Good Friday. Whether it is a joyful or a sombre occasion Newbridge parish is able to achieve in communicating a warm, peaceful, calm, and reflective mood. Our parish church is a place of welcome, light, warmth, and heart. My Mass setting tries to capture the various moods of the Church calendar. Each piece has a separate character which matches the tone of that moment in the liturgy where it is placed. The Mass setting tried to achieve a goal of being inclusive for all the congregation by (hopefully) being ‘singable’ by everyone. Hopefully the congregation will leave the liturgy happy and humming!”

Speaking ahead of the launch of the new Mass, Father Paul Dempsey, Parish Priest of Saint Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge, said, “Sunday, 26 February marks a significant day in our parish diary as we launch Padraig’s Mass of the People.  Down through the years Padraig has been most generous in giving of his time to enhance the liturgy in the parish through his musical talent.  He is a very gifted musician and we are extremely fortunate to be able to draw on this giftedness in Saint Conleth’s.  As the Church faces many challenges in a changed and changing culture, many people drift along as many familiar anchors in society have disappeared.  As a Church we must respond by inviting people to participate in the liturgy –  a liturgy that is vibrant, joyful and well prepared, a liturgy that will touch people’s hearts and help them experience the deep love of Jesus Christ.  Good music is critical to this and contributes to the Eucharist being the ‘summit and source’ of the Church’s life.  Through his new Mass setting, Mass of the People, Padraig is making a major contribution to the life of the Church in Ireland today.  I wish him every blessing and thank him for sharing his gifts so generously with us here in Saint Conleth’s Parish.”

The Musical Director of ‘In Caelo’ is Cora Coffey, and the ensemble for Sunday 26 February will include composer Padraig Meredith on piano, Caroline Sutton on violin,  Derek Duffy on guitar, and Mary Farrell on Irish Harp.

Commenting ahead of the launch Cora Coffey said, “In Caelo has come a long way since it began in 1997. Myself and Padraig were original members of the choir. We all knew that Padraig was destined for greater things and he has proved us right! ‘In Caelo’ are honoured that he has chosen us to perform his beautiful new Mass setting.  I wish him every success for the future and ‘In Caelo’ looks forward to many more collaborations with him.”

Padraig Meredith studied music earning a B.Mus. degree from UCD, a G.Dip.Ed (Music) from University of Limerick, an ADV.Dip.PD (Inclusive Education) from Queens University Belfast, and an M.Mus. Masters in Musicology from UCD. He works as the Music Teacher at the Holy Family Community School, Rathcoole, and spends the rest of his time working as an accompanist and session musician in a variety of genres from Church to choral to rock music. He composed the theme song for the Dublin Diocesan ‘Year of Evangelisation’ called Raise Your Voice. He also composed the score for the Irish dance and musical theatre work The Cloak, along with writer Padraig Dunne, which is based on the life of Saint Brigid.

‘In Caelo’ is one of the parish choirs in Saint Conleth’s Parish in the Diocese of Kildare and Leighlin. The choir has been in existence for almost 20 years. The choir of 44 members comprises men and women from Newbridge and surrounding areas. ‘In Caelo’ is a four part harmony choir and they sing at the 12.30pm Mass in Saint Conleth’s Parish Church every second Sunday.

For more on Mass of the People see www.newbridgeparish.ie.

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The Choir – One Year On

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“Without music, life would be a mistake.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols

A year ago I finally got my act together and did something I had been wanting to do for a long time – I joined a choir. The In Caelo choir is based in Saint Conleth’s Parish, Newbridge, Co Kildare and we sing every second Sunday at Mass.

When I joined I was so nervous as I hadn’t sung in any formal way for years and had not been in a choir since I was in school.

Being in the choir has been one of the best experiences. It has been good for the heart, my breathing and really good for the soul and for headspace. We rehearse every other Tuesday evening in the church and I always coming away feeling great.

We have had an exceptionally great year as a choir. We sang for the President and his wife Sabina on Saint Patrick’s Day; we recorded some pieces in Irish for a charity CD; we sang at a hospice remembrance service; we performed as part of JuneFest and took part in a couple of carol services before Christmas, including the Community Carol Service in Newbridge. It was wonderful to be one of the choirs that performed and contributed to the sum of 2,830 euro being raised for charity. We sang in Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral three times during the year.

Looking ahead to 2017, we have the great honour of being the first choir to perform a brand new Mass setting by Padraig Meredith and we have been asked to perform in Knock Basilica.

So full steam ahead for this soprano.

If you have ever even toyed with the idea of being in a choir, just do it…… it’s a New Year’s Resolution you will have no trouble keeping.

Brenda

xxx

 

The Choir – That’s it for the Summer

“Elvish singing is not a thing to miss, in June under the stars, not if you care for such things.”
― J.R.R. TolkienThe Hobbit

So that’s it then for the Summer months! Our choir In Caelo is packing itself away until September so as to give all the singers and musicians a well deserved rest- not to mention our director.

I am going to miss our rehearsal evenings and our singing at Mass over the Summer. Although I am only in the choir since January of this year, it has become part and parcel of my life and it has helped me enormously.

  • I feel my singing is better.
  • My breathing is definitely better.
  • My posture is better.
  • My blood pressure is heading back in the right direction.
  • The music and singing have also done wonders for my head space.

Singing really is good for you physically and mentally and I never really understood how or why until I became part of the In Caelo choir. It has been good for the heart and the soul too.

I studied music up to Junior Certificate in school and before that I was fluent at the tin whistle. As I grew up, life, basketball (and boys) got in the way of me playing a musical instrument and I dropped it. I used to be able to read music, write music and I knew all the lingo. I have missed it.

Being back in the choir is giving me the chance to re-learn some of these things (maybe not the tin whistle for the sake of the new neighbours), I am getting better at sight reading and understanding what is what.

The choir finished on a high at Mass in Saint Conleth’s Parish Church just a couple of Sundays ago, where we sang the Mass parts and some of our nicest pieces. It was lovely to feel the warmth of the applause at the end of Mass when Father Paul said we were finishing until the Autumn.

I am grateful to Cora, our musical director, for her guidance and encouragement. I am also grateful to all the members of the choir who have shared copies of music with me and pointed me in the right direction. I am also grateful for the warmth of the reception into the choir and the feeling of belonging in such a wonderful diverse group of men and women.

We have had a wonderful season of singing – we sang for our parish, for a bishop, an archbishop, and the President of Ireland and the First Lady. We sang at a wonderful concert to open JuneFest and we are heading back to the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin in July.

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Joining the choir came just at the right time for me and I was always be grateful for not having to perform a solo by way of an audition – or I might never have had the courage to join.

Music is a huge part of my life – it has been that way since I first played a note on a tin whistle or recorder and since I bought my first ever record in 1978.

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I can’t imagine my life without music and singing. There’s something special about being part of the wonderful sound that comes from our choir.

So if you are looking for something enriching, fulfilling and fun – go join a choir! You won’t look back.

I’m counting the days until we are back singing together in September.

Have a good Summer one and all.

ENDS

 

 

 

 

 

The Choir – My First Concert

Words make you think. Music makes you feel. A song makes you feel a thought.
― E.Y. Harburg

We had been rehearsing for a few weeks for our place in the Henry Flanagan Memorial Concert in the Dominican College in Newbridge. It’s an annual concert and more recently has been part of the JuneFest stable of events in the town.

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We had two pieces to perform at the concert and were one of six choirs in total. We were also going to be joined by Dr. Gerard Gillen, Professor Emeritus in Music at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

The first of our pieces is an original piece Our Blessing Cup, which was composed for us by Padraig Meredith, a composer from Newbridge in Co. Kildare. The second piece, Jesus, Be With Us Now by David Haas, is one we have been singing for a few weeks as part of Mass on Sunday and at the Novena Masses.

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Our Blessing Cup was introduced to us for the first time in January of this year by its composer Padraig. I had just joined the choir and when I heard the piece for the first time, I was sure I would never be able to master any of the soprano lines. It is a really beautiful piece but it is quite a technical and challenging piece for a choir and even more technical and challenging for me – a novice in the choir!

Both pieces are uplifting, poignant and really moving, especially when they are sung from the heart and when they are given the attention that our choir director Cora gave them.

At our last rehearsal for the concert Cora decided that we were going to use our music and books for Our Blessing Cup and that we were to drop our books on the floor in front of us and sing Jesus, Be With Us Now from memory. Yikes!

So Monday 31 May came and we gathered in a small room in the Dominican College in Newbridge for a vocal warm up and to run quickly through the two pieces. We were performing second last so the nerves and butterflies would have plenty of time to be fluttering as we listened to the other choirs.

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Our turn came and we processed up – almost the way we had rehearsed – and stood ready to perform. I am front row, dead centre, where Cora can keep an eye and an ear on me. I was really nervous and terrified that I was going to forget the OOs and the Ahs (when you listen you will hear them) in Our Blessing Cup and doubly terrified about forgetting the words to Jesus, Be With Us Now.

With Cora directing us, Shona singing solo and Padraig accompanying us on piano, the bars of the intro to Our Blessing Cup began and off we went. When we sang the last line, I breathed a sigh of relief as I felt we had nailed it. Shona, our soloist sounded amazing and I felt that we sounded the best we had ever sounded with this brand new piece.

Then I closed my music book, leaned forward and dropped it gently to the ground. All around me 45 other books dropped too. Suddenly I felt exposed. My prop was gone. Cora made funny faces at us to get us to laugh which had the effect of making us relax – in so far as relaxing was possible at that moment.

The beautiful opening bars of Jesus, Be With Us Now began and off we went. We have to sing the opening line ‘we come before you with all we have’ in one single breath and it’s not easy to do. I think we all managed it. I felt goosebumps as we got to the climax of the chorus and you could feel something special in the air.

We had no books, no props, no words to distract us. We opened our mouths, looked out at the audience and sang from the heart. It felt wonderful. I hoped it sounded as wonderful as it felt to me. I hoped that Padraig was pleased with how we sang Our Blessing Cup.

Our two pieces over, we left our positions to loud applause. We did it. I did it – my first concert was over.

It was wonderful to sit back in the pews and to breathe a sigh of relief. I didn’t forget my OOs or my Ahs and I remembered the words of Jesus, Be With Us Now.

Here are our two pieces performed back to back. Excuse the audio – it was recorded on my iPhone which I left on the pew just before we went up to perform.

Listen here.

When the concert was over a woman came over to us to tell us we moved her to tears as we performed. She said we sang from the heart and really engaged with the music. We were delighted to receive such positive feedback. It’s all down to the wonderful talent we have in the choir but especially to Cora, Shona and Padraig. You make it easy for us!

I am immensely proud of our choir. Joining In Caelo is a new year’s resolution I will never regret.

ENDS

 

The Choir – Singing for President Higgins

I joined the In Caelo Choir in Newbridge Parish in January of this year. We rehearse every second Tuesday night and we sing at Mass every second Sunday. I am very much one of the newbies to the choir so I had no idea that from time to time the choir gets invited to sing in other churches. I was delighted to hear that we had been asked to sing at Mass in Saint Mary’s Pro – Cathedral in Dublin on Saint Patrick’s Day. I was nervous too! I was doubly nervous when I realised we would be singing most of the parts of the Mass and the hymns in Irish and that we would be doing so in the presence of President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina.

The Saint Patrick’s Day Mass is an important service in the liturgical calendar and no more so this year as it is 1916 and we are commemorating the events of 1916. As well as singing in the presence of Uachtarán na hÉireann, we would also be performing to a packed church with a congregation made up of people from Dublin, from around Ireland and from around the world. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was presiding at the Mass and Father Bryan Shorthall from the Capuchins would be the chief celebrant and the homilist.

We had intensive rehearsals in the weeks leading up to the Mass under the direction of Cora Coffey. Sharon Lyons, who would be the soloist on the day of the Mass in the Pro-Cathedral, also came to spend time with us in rehearsal.

We left Newbridge bright and early on Saint Patrick’s Day (17 March) and made our way to Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, through the streets which were cordoned off for the Saint Patrick’s Day parade. After weeks of rehearsals we felt ready but nervous at the prospect of being part of such an important and established tradition of the annual Aifreann Phádraig Naofa.

Thankfully there was time for a quick run through of all our pieces with Sharon and Cora.  We were accompanied by Padraig Meredith on piano and we had some organ accompaniment from Gerard Gillen. Our singing was given a real traditional Irish flavour by the addition of a harp and some uilleann pipes and we had a very talented brother and sister playing cello and violin. We sang most of the pieces in Irish and our finale piece was Hail Glorious Saint Patrick.

After the Mass was over we had a chance to enjoy some refreshments in the side rooms of the Pro Cathedral. We met some of the priests attached to the Pro-Cathedral and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin came out to say hell and to stand in for a quick photo!

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We were all wearing a beautifully crocheted green shamrocks made by hand by one of our choir members Sinéad Buckley. Sinéad had made an extra one in the hope that she might get a chance to present it to the President’s wife Sabina. The chance came and a delighted Sabina Higgins is now the proud owner of a beautiful piece of crochet made by Sinéad.

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One of the highlights of the day was when we all had a chance to pose for a photo with President Higgins and his wife. We were lined up the stairs of the side entrance to the Pro Cathedral house. We decided to kill the time we were waiting for the Presidential party to arrive by reprising a verse of Hail Glorious Saint Patrick. When the President and his wife arrived for the photo they invited us to sing for them again. We were only too happy to oblige and as I reviewed the video afterwards I noticed that both of them were singing along with us to Hail Glorious Saint Patrick.  Afterwards, they thanked us and wished us a Happy Saint Patrick’s Day.

This is a short video of the verse we sang for the President and his wife.

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We waved them off from the Pro-Cathedral where they sat into a waiting car to immediately officiate at the opening of the parade.

We left on a high, with wonderful memories of a day which will never be forgotten and with a great feeling of pride in ourselves, in our country and in our President and First Lady.

Didn’t I pick just the right year to join the choir?

Brenda

xx

 

The Choir – In Caelo

By Una Whitfield

I only sing in the shower. I would join a choir, but I don’t think my bathtub can hold that many people – Jarod Kintz

I finally did it. I joined a choir. It has been something I have wanted to do for a long time. I used to sing in church and school choirs when I was younger but I have not been part of a formal group since then. I sing all the time – in the car, in the shower, in the kitchen and even at my desk. Sometimes I don’t even realise I am singing or humming. I adore music. I could not imagine a life without music.

I have acted as MC for a couple of concerts recently for this really wonderful choir called In Caelo. Caelo is the Latin word for Heaven so that must mean that In Caelo means ‘in heaven’.

I had posted a couple of times on my Facebook page that I would love to join a choir and the Musical Director for In Caelo commented and asked me to come and join up. I was nervous and put it off. I was dreading the idea of having to sing solo in front of everyone.

On 1 January I posted another note about joining a choir and I was given a time and venue for their first rehearsal of the new year and I went along. There are probably 50 or so people in the choir (I must ask how many) and we meet for rehearsals in our beautiful parish church.

I know some of the faces and voices from being their MC -most recently in December for their Community Carol Service.

There was no singing solo or auditioning. I was invited to sing the melody line and to join the sopranos. In to the seat I sat without so much as a sheet of paper or a musical note in front of me.

We were working on some new arrangements so sheets were passed around. We are also working on a brand new composition for a performance at Easter. It has been written for In Caelo by a local composer. It’s quite challenging and all we managed were the first two lines. It is a four-part harmony and from what we can hear, it is a stunning piece.

We sing every second Sunday in Saint Conleth’s Parish in Newbridge. I have my first Mass performance next Sunday. I am nervous and excited. It’s all very well to sing along in church but it is an entirely different feeling to be part of the choir.

Wish me luck.

B xxx