Cathedral choir from Buffalo, New York performs at Church Center

August 5, 2009

In their first time touring together, the girls' and boys' choristers of St. Paul's Episcopal Cathedral in Buffalo, New York, made a stop at the Episcopal Church Center's chapel in New York City during their three city tour.

The choristers, led by choirmaster Abigail Rockwood, performed a 15-minute, mini-concert prior to the daily noontime Eucharist held in the Chapel of Christ the Lord and performed during the Eucharist.

The prelude included the 10th century hymn "O Nata Lux" by composer Thomas Tallis and "How Can I Keep from Singing" arranged by John Scott. During the offertory, the choristers sang "Teach Me, O' Lord" by Thomas Attwood and William Byrd's "Ave Verum Corpus" during communion.

The choristers – 13 boys and 12 girls ages 8-16 accompanied by men from St. Paul's Choir -- are scheduled to perform at St. Mary the Virgin in Times Square August 6, and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., on August 9.

Head boys chorister Tim Stachowiak, 15, joined St. Paul's choir after his music teacher in third grade gave him a brochure and suggested he tryout.

"I didn't even know I wanted to sing," he said, in an interview after the performance.

Meeting new people and traveling the world are the two things Stachowiak likes most about singing in the choir. Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is his favorite place to perform; he sang there while on tour with the choir in 2005, he said.

When head girls chorister Grace Hamlin, 15, decided she wanted to sing, St. Paul's girls' choir was the "natural" choice because both her father and her sister sang at the cathedral, she said. Her favorite place to sing is Uppsala Cathedral in Sweden, she said.

Boys and girls interested in singing in St. Paul's Cathedral's choirs must audition and demonstrate basic aptitude, but no prior musical training is required, Rockwood said, adding that "they come from all backgrounds and keep a rigorous rehearsal schedule."

Choristers practice two to three times a week, performing on Sundays, during special concerts and with frequency during Holy Week, Easter and Christmas, she said.

Participation in the choir has changed children's lives, said the Very Rev. Liza Spangler, dean of St. Paul's. Spangler is travelling with the choir.

"There are very few places you can get this: music theory, leadership, liturgy, scripture … it has truly changed lives," she said.

Balancing choir practice with school and sports practice schedules can be difficult, but Hamlin said, "I always make time for chorus."