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Mozart festival marks end of Year of Faith

MEGHAN THOMASSEN | Monday, November 25, 2013

All three Basilica choirs joined for the first time with an orchestra to commemorate the end of Campus Ministry’s Year of Faith in Friday’s Mozart Festival at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart.

The Year of Faith began in December 2012 in response to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s request for a Catholic Year of Faith, assistant choral program director and organist Mary Catherine Levri said.

The Women’s Liturgical Choir, the Liturgical Choir and the Folk Choir performed pieces of sacred music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, including one of his more well-known religious works, the Coronation Masd. The concert also coincided with the feast of Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of musicians, and preceded the Solemnity of Christ the Kind.

“[Mozart] wrote the Coronation Mass for Easter Sunday in 1779,” Levri said. “No one knows exactly why he wrote it. We are just given the date and the fact that it was performed in Salzburg Cathedral. It’s a famous piece, and it’s really fitting at the setting of the basilica.”

Andrew McShane, director of the Liturgical Choir, said the choirs rehearsed independently starting in August and came together to practice with the orchestra Tuesday. McShane said due to scheduling conflicts with the Notre Dame Symphony, a group of 21 South Bend musicians with experience playing for weddings and large masses at the basilicapcomprised the orchestra for the festival.

McShane said 150 singers performed in the concert.

“In my 22 years here, I have never seen a choir as big as this one,” he said.

Levri said many people of faith, such as Pope Francis and Benedict, love Mozart’s music.

“Benedict talked a lot of the faith of Mozart and about the impression that his music made on him when he was growing up in his church,” Levri said. “Many theologians wrote about how his music is divinely beautiful and how heaven touches earth when you hear this music. Mozart wrote a great bit for the church.”

 Benedict called for the Year of Faith so Catholics would not take their faith for granted, Levri said.

“[Faith] used to be something that everyone shared, and everyone in the same community went to the same church,” she said. “It was just a part of life, not something you sought out or chose to do. [Through Year of Faith, we] make a deliberate celebration of the gift that is faith and evangelization.”

Contact Meghan Thomassen at mthomass@nd.edu.