By Jordan Grantham
Artes Christi’s Choir has spread Christmas joy for the past four years, travelling to parishes from Brisbane to Sydney. Kieran Walton, a Diocese of Parramatta Medal of Honour recipient, is a key organiser of this year’s tour.
Twelve churches and seven cities will benefit from classic hymns and songs, including O Come All Ye Faithful, Angels We Have Heard On High, O Holy Night and original pieces composed by choir members.
“We really want to help build the tradition of singing carols at Christmas,” said Emma O’Shea, the Secretary of Artes Christi Australia. “The Lessons and Carols inside churches are not performances so much as prayer. The tour helps all who attend enter into the time of Advent with the assistance of beautiful music, which is a form of prayer itself.”
For choir members, giving back Christmas joy is a great way to experience Christmas. Members with a significant connection to the Diocese of Parramatta include Meg Griffin (soprano soloist), Jeremy Bell (Tour Accompanist), John Brazier (alto soloist) and Robert van Gend (viola).
Artes Christi last came to Parramatta in 2014 for the production of The Jeweller’s Shop written by Pope St John Paul II (then Karol Wojtyla) in 1960. The Jeweller’s Shop was performed at the Riverside Theatre, Parramatta and explored love in marriage, as part of Artes Christi’s mission ‘to seek the Face of Christ through the arts’.
Artes Christi’s mission has also been fulfilled through music theatre productions, notably MacKillop the Musical, on the life of St Mary of the Cross. Other previous productions include Fiddler on the Roof, The Wiz and plays such as A Man for All Seasons, The Importance of Being Earnest, Hamlet and an adaptation of the Gospel of John.
In previous years, well-known mainstream artists who have collaborated with the Artes Christi Carols Tour include Gary Pinto (X Factor Australia), Jason Stevens (Channel 7’s Sydney Weekender) and Monique Reynolds (Mary Poppins).
Last year, Artes Christi toured Europe in the lead up to Christmas, performing at pre-eminent churches, including St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, St Francis Basilica in Assisi and Westminster Cathedral in London.
Emma said a special highlight was at St Peter’s Basilica when they brought in instruments for Gaudete Sunday, which are not normally permitted on other Sundays in Advent.
“Our choir and orchestral ensemble of 25 young people sang and played beautifully and we were simply blown away, especially when the procession for the Mass began with almost 100 priests, bishops and cardinals walking in to concelebrate,” she said.
A group of 45 young people, including choristers and instrumentalists, will travel through the cities of Brisbane, Annerley, Tweed Heads, Coffs Harbour, Sawtell, Terrigal and the Sydney parishes of North Ryde, Horsley Park, Beverly Hills, Surry Hills, Camperdown and St Mary’s Cathedral.
The tour will conclude with the spectacular Lights of Christmas at St Mary’s Cathedral, which will run from 8-25 December 2016. Beautiful images of Catholic art and graphics will be projected on to the Cathedral and viewed by thousands as Artes Christi sings.
The tour of Australia’s east coast runs from 16-19 December 2016. Sydney parish carol services begin on Sunday 27 November 2016 at North Ryde Parish. Further information and contact details can be found at www.christmasinthecity.org.au
Posted on 23 November 2016.