Choirs look forward Dec. 14 concert, trip to Rome

Irish Guys with Ties to make their debut

Irish Guys with Ties, during rehearsal sans ties, prepares for their Christmas concert debut.

Erin O'Neill

Irish Guys with Ties, during rehearsal sans ties, prepares for their Christmas concert debut.

Erin O'Neill, Reporter

This year has been one full of firsts and new beginnings for the school’s choirs. In August, the new Director of Choirs, Mrs. Marian Bender, was welcomed to campus and this quarter, the first-ever all-male a capella group was created.

Bender described how the new boys’ choir came to be.

She said, “I heard from some of the students that are in my other choirs that there are some guys that really enjoy singing, but they didn’t think it was a very cool thing to do, so I reached out to (the students) personally and invited them to just hang out one day and talk about what a guy’s a capella group would look like.”

The creation of this choir has helped to challenge the status quo of choirs in a significant way.

Bender said, “So they all came (to a meeting), this was a month ago, and I said, you know, in all of the high schools that are around, guys are in the choral programs. There are always boys in the choir programs, but at Cathedral, it hasn’t been the norm. That has been really important to me, getting more students involved, especially with male students, showing them that it is really cool to sing.”

Junior Blake Lowe agrees. He said, “Developing this group is crucial to making choir cool for guys. As of now, the ratio of women to men in the choir program is very high. Hopefully, we can change that.”

Bender also expressed her excitement about this new chapter for the choir program. She said, “It’s really been a joy to see the group progress so quickly, to hear their harmonies, and their blending and their excitement. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the future holds for them.”

One of the aspects the students enjoy most about it is the unknown attributes of the new choir.

Senior Chase Santamaria said, “I love how much fun everyone has in this choir, even though many of them have never sang publicly before.”

Junior Brock Steimel said, “My favorite part about being in the guys’ choir is being able to hear the hidden talents that these guys have. It’s amazing how much you don’t know about somebody until you actually listen.”

Santamaria also added, “The most challenging part (about being in the choir) is learning the music, but Mrs. Bender has done a fantastic job teaching us the music in such a short period of time, thanks to her enthusiasm and hopefulness for the group.”

The students seem to enjoy the experience as much as Bender. She said, “They are excited, they’ve got a uniform, they are going to be wearing gold ties, and they’ve got a name now. They seem very excited and invested in the group.”

Irish Guys with Ties will make its debut at the Christmas concert on Dec. 14.

The concert, which is open to the public, will be Bender’s first in her time at the school, and will feature performances that differ from past years. Bender said, “The exciting thing this year is that the finale piece will be all of the choirs together, and we are going to be singing a really cool gospel song.”

Not only will all of the choirs combine for parts of the show, but the orchestra will also take part in a collaboration. Bender said, “We will have a small chamber orchestra accompanying the concert, mostly comprised of Cathedral students. We are looking forward to featuring them and their talents.”

Bender added, “I am so looking forward to (the concert), since it is the first time having them on stage in a big venue, watching their success and seeing how much they’ve grown in the first half of the year. It’s been really neat to watch their progression and musical growth, and there’s nothing better than hearing Christmas music at Christmas time.”

While the choirs will begin ringing in the holiday season Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium, some members will be ringing in the New Year in Rome in 2019.

Bender said, “We were invited to sing at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, Italy and the Pope is officiating (the Epiphany Mass), and the Sistine Chapel choir will be singing with us as well. It’s an Epiphany Mass, so it’s in January, and we will leave Dec. 29 (2018). We will be there over New Year’s Eve, so that will be lots of fun.”

She added, “Rome and Assisi is where we’ll be, and we’ll be singing with other choirs that were invited from different Catholic high schools from around the United States.”

Bender also said that the Cathedral choirs will have another opportunity to perform in Italy, with their own concert at the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi.

All of the choirs will be welcome to go as well. Bender said, “I’m opening (the trip) up to every choir, we’ll sort of form a new group of whoever can go and everyone will learn the music. It’s open to the whole choir department.”

Bender also wrote in an email that seniors participating in choir this year will be welcomed back to sing with the choir in Italy, as the trip will take place during winter break.

Bender described that even people not involved in choir will be able to partake in this once-in-a lifetime experience. She said, “It’s a trip that we are working to celebrate the 100- year anniversary (of Cathedral), so we’ll have a choir trip, but we’re also going to open a shadow trip to anyone who wants to go and be there to support the school.”

She added, “We’re just very honored to have this opportunity, and it’s also really neat, I think, to connect our Holy Cross values with a trip like this.”