Today I would like to turn away from European choir schools and move closer to home, focusing on several in the United States, the first of which is St. Paul’s Choir School, Harvard Square, in Boston.
Dr. Theodore Marier, the well known chant scholar, founded St. Paul’s Choir School in the autumn of 1963, creating the first and only Catholic choir school for boys in the United States. Today the school educates boys in grades 4 through 8. In 2010, the choir school hired Mr. John Robinson, formerly Assistant Organist at Canterbury Cathedral, to lead the choir. From various articles I have read, he is doing great work, such as implementing the ABRSM music theory curriculum in the school, hiring professional male singers for the choir and increasing the number of liturgies for which the choir sings on a weekly basis. Last fall, the choir released its first international CD entitled “Christmas in Harvard Square.” The parish’s pastor sums up the music at the choir school as (quoting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) “Music capable of opening minds and hearts to the dimension of the spirit and of leading persons to raise their gaze on High, to open to absolute Goodness and Beauty, which have their ultimate source in God.” Would that all parish music programs could say the same.
One “take away” item I would like to share is that (if Wikipedia can be trusted!) Dr. Marier and the then pastor of St. Paul’s began the choir school in response to De music sacra, the 1958 document from the Sacred Congregation of Rites, which encouraged boys choirs and special schools for the teaching of sacred music. All it took was the vision of one parish priest (St. Paul’s is not a cathedral) and one music director to create such an incredible institution. Are you a priest, are you a music director? Perhaps God is calling YOU!