The Cathedral Music Programs
“Now when the priests came out of the holy place…all the levitical singers, their sons and kindred, arrayed in fine linen, with cymbals, harps and lyres, stood east of the altar with one hundred twenty priests who were trumpeters, it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord…” 2 Chronicles 5:11-13.
There are many scriptural references to the ministry of music, whether it’s in singing or playing musical instruments. We are all encouraged to sing praises to God: “Sing praises to God…” (Psalm 47:6); “…and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.” (Colossians 3:16). The use of string, wind and percussion instruments to worship God is talked about in both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, and singing was, and still is, a prominent part of worship.
The Cathedral Music Program currently consists of four choirs: The Angels’ Chorus, Seraphic Voices, Khorós, and Cathedral Choir under the direction of Organist and Director of Music, Matt Hill.
Angels’ Chorus is the training choir for young children at St. Michael’s and helps lay the foundations for excellence in musical skill. Typically, once children are able to read, around the age of six or above, they are welcome to join Angels’ Chorus. Here choristers are taught basic musicianship, age appropriate vocal technique, good behaviour for musical settings, and about music as a part of the liturgy. This choir uses the Voice for Life curriculum and allows choristers to be tested on various musical skills earning ribbons and medals. When a chorister has advanced in maturity, vocal ability, and musicianship, they are eligible to advance to our youth choir, Seraphic Voices. This typically occurs around the age of 12. Angels’ Chorus rehearses on Thursdays from 5:15 to 6:30.
Seraphic Voices is our youth choir at St. Michael’s. This ensemble is for girls until the age of 18 and boys with unchanged voices. At around the age of 12 (and at the director’s discretion) choristers may begin to sing in this ensemble. In this choir, choristers are taught basic musicianship, age appropriate vocal technique, good behaviour for musical settings, and about music as a part of the liturgy using the Voice for Life curriculum. As in Angels’ Chorus, choristers are able to be tested on various musical skills and earn ribbons and medals. To maintain a continuum in all of the musical ensembles at St. Michael’s, when girls reach the age of 18 or a certain vocal maturity, they are transitioned into Khorós and Cathedral Choir. When a boy’s voice has finished changing, he will be transitioned into Cathedral Choir. Seraphic Voices sings in services monthly on their own and often with Cathedral Choir. Seraphic Voices also participates in the various Feast Days, special liturgies, and concerts throughout the year. Rehearsals are on Tuesdays from 5:15 to 6:30.
Khorós is an adult women’s ensemble at St. Michael’s. Khorós sings an eclectic repertoire of music that consists of, but is not limited to ancient chant, medieval and renaissance motets, and contemporary compositions. Khorós often sings a cappella or is accompanied by piano, guitar, or percussion. While the ability to read music is not necessary to join Khorós, rehearsals are fast-paced, and members often learn their music away from the rehearsal setting so that rehearsals may be devoted to making a polished choral sound. Khorós typically sings at the principal liturgy twice each month and at the various Feast Days, special liturgies, and concerts throughout the year. This ensemble occasionally sings at the monthly Choral Evensong services held from October through April. At times, Khorós will sing together with the other choirs. Rehearsals are on Tuesdays from 7:00 to 8:30.
While there is not a principal choir at St. Michael’s, Cathedral Choir is probably the most visible choir being present at each sung liturgy in the cathedral. Cathedral Choir is a mixed choir of women and men singing a wide range of music, most of which comes from the traditional Anglican repertoire. On the Sundays that Khorós does not sing, Cathedral Choir sings the anthems and psalm for the service, typically two or three Sundays per month. However, Cathedral Choir is present each Sunday to sing hymns and service music and sings at the various Feast Days, special liturgies, and concerts throughout the year. This ensemble occasionally sings at the monthly Choral Evensong services held from October through April. As with Khorós, the ability to read music is not necessary to join, a basic understanding of musical concepts is highly encouraged. Cathedral Choir rehearses on Thursdays from 7:00 to 9:00.
In addition to the four choirs at the cathedral, St. Michael’s is fortunate to have multiple instruments on the campus. Most notable of these instruments is the pipe organ that is found in the chancel of the cathedral. In addition to the organ, St. Michael’s has a 1929 Wm. Knabe & Co. grand piano in the nave of the cathedral, and three additional pianos on site. St. Michael’s also has a three-octave set of Malmark tone chimes and a two-octave set of children’s sized handbells. Use the links in the Music tab, you will find more information about the organ at St. Michael’s.