Category Archives: the schola

Come to our Christmas concert: Dec. 3, 2011

The Pope Benedict XVI Schola is putting on a concert this December to benefit the Knoxville Ladies of Charity.

The theme is “A (Mostly) Medieval and Renaissance Christmas,” and the program will feature some of the most beautiful chants, motets, and carols written in the past 800 years. Organist Charles Walden, our friend and colleague, will also perform a set of his favorite seasonal pieces.

Here are the details:

2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011
Holy Ghost Church
1041 N. Central St., Knoxville, TN 37917

Google map to the church


Buy tickets at the door

Tickets are $10.

All proceeds benefit the Ladies of Charity, who do so much to help the poor in Knoxville. It’s amazing what they accomplish on a tiny budget–and no, they do not receive funds from Catholic Charities of East Tennessee.

Please e-mail or call me (865-437-8620) with any questions–and please mark your calendar. We look forward to seeing you there!


This year’s schola

We began this effort almost exactly a year ago, on Feb. 24, 2008. Our members have changed a bit–we’ve lost a few and gained a few. We gained a new member last Thursday, and I’m grateful for her interest. So now we have five regulars. Still a very small ensemble . . . but we’re making music.

I believe the only thing limiting us now is our small numbers. I’m praying for new members and have sent notices to a number of church bulletins in the Knoxville area.

Oh, and we are now rehearsing at Holy Ghost Church in Knoxville, arguably the most beautiful Catholic church in the area. I appreciate the welcome the music director and the priests have given us.

Our first Mass

I’ve been communicating most of our news via our Google group/e-mail list or private e-mail. But we have not been idle.

Five of us sang for the vigil of the Assumption on Aug. 14 at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa. I was very pleased with the group. We were small but mighty!

Highlights of the Mass included the Chabanel psalm for the day; a two-part "Ave Maria" by Perosi at offertory, followed by "Salve Regina," the seasonal Marian antiphon; and the chanted proper at Communion, "Beata viscera." Dignified hymns at processional and post-Mass recessional.

We’ve been invited to sing at St. John Neumann in Farragut for the vigil of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross (also known as the Triumph of the Cross), and if we have sufficient numbers, we’ll do it. My initial thoughts include Liszt’s "Vexilla Regis," the Communio ("Per signum Crucis"), the Chabanel psalm for the day, "Salve Regina," and whatever polyphonic piece we can learn. Two possibilities are Asola’s "Christus factus est" and Lasso’s "Adoramus te, Christe." Both are available from cpdl in editions for three parts.

Note an addition to the sidebar at right: links to my public page on It looks like an easy way for me to share info and links on the fly with members.

If you’re interested in joining the schola, comment on this post or e-mail me.

By the way–there may be changes ahead in our rehearsal schedule. I’ll keep you posted.

meeting March 22

The timing is awful, I know, but our next meeting/rehearsal is set for 4 p.m. this Saturday, March 22. It’s the day before Easter, the busiest time of the year for church musicians . . . but I didn’t want to skip a rehearsal and go a month without getting together.

Note the time: 4 p.m, not 4:15 as for the last two meetings. Rehearsal will be held in the nursery at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa. I thank our friends at Fatima for being so welcoming to us.

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here’s what we sang today

Four of us had quite a good meeting this afternoon and looked at the Communion chant used for the fifth Sunday of Lent (when the Gospel is the one about Lazarus’ being raised from the dead) and three short polyphonic pieces from They can be found in this packet. We hope to meet again in two weeks—and you are all welcome—but someone just pointed out to me that two weeks from today is the Saturday before Easter. Of course, we’d rehearse in the afternoon, so we’d be done long before anyone has to report for duty at Easter Vigil. Location to be determined. I’ll keep you posted via the google group. Mary

first meeting

Five people interested in the schola met with me yesterday, Feb. 23, in the library at St. John Neumann Church. We had a good session, I think, and those who came were further along that I had expected. I chose some very simple chants for us to go over—and these people aced them. I need to choose more difficult music for next time . . . We will meet again in two weeks, this time at Our Lady of Fatima Church in Alcoa. Because the schola isn’t affiliated with any particular parish, we may end up meeting at multiple locations. In any case, for next time I’ll prepare a short introductory spiel for newcomers and then move directly to some more challenging chant—perhaps a Communio. I’ll also bring a simple piece of polyphony in case we have enough voices to cover three or four parts. At the initial meeting we had talented altos and tenors, so we could perhaps have sung some of Orlando di Lasso’s elegant little bicinas, but that’s about it. By the way—I’ve added a custom-search feature (see “custom search engine” in the first sidebar) you can use to find articles, documents, and what-have-you on specific sites I’ve chosen.

first meeting of the schola scheduled

Our first meeting—open to everyone interested in learning more about the schola—will begin at 4:15 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at St. John Neumann Church in Farragut. I expect it to go until about 5:30. Noel Jones, music director for the parish, will begin free classes in reading Gregorian chant notation on the same day, same place, from 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. The classes are free and open to everyone. Requirements for the schola are a bit tighter: members must be able to read music and match pitch with other singers. But everyone is invited to the interest meeting. E-mail me with any questions you may have.


Next week I’ll participate in the fifth annual Sacred Music Workshop in Auburn, Ala. I attended with three friends two years ago—and this year will travel to Auburn with several other friends. Friday is devoted to Gregorian chant, Saturday to Renaissance polyphony.

I expect to come home even more fired up about starting the schola. Don’t quote me on this, but I’m leaning toward scheduling the first “information meeting” the weekend of Feb. 23-24. I plan to invite a handful of people I know are interested, to get a blurb in the calendar of the diocesan newspaper, and to fax bulletin inserts to local parishes.

We’re trying to pin down a rehearsal location now . . . and one has tentatively been offered.

Stay tuned!

Now playing: Gloriae Dei Cantores – Alma redemptoris mater
via FoxyTunes

how do you build a chant schola?

Well, we hope to find out. Watch this space early in 2008, when we will announce one or more meetings for people in the Knoxville area who might be interested in joining us. Knowledge of Gregorian chant is not necessary, but prospective members must be able to read music and to blend with others in unison singing. Within the next week or so, I hope to add information on how potential members can join our Google Group.