Twin Cities Catholic Chorale
Twin Cities Catholic Chorale

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 4234
St. Paul, MN 55104

E-mail: chorale@stagnes.net

+ Monsignor Richard J.Schuler, Founding Director (1956-2007)
Dr. Robert L. Peterson, Music Director

The members of the Chorale are all volunteers. Mary E. Le Voir is the organist. Instrumentalists are professional musicians from the Twin Cities area. The soloists are Patricia Kent, soprano; Jocelyn Kalajian, contralto; Adam Gedde, tenor; and Jon Nordstrom, bass.

The music of the Chorale is supported financially by the Friends of the Chorale. All contributions to the Chorale are tax deductible. Envelopes are available in the back of church. For more information, please see Donate to the Chorale on the web site. If you would like to be on the Chorale mailing list, please sign up online or leave your name and address by calling the Church of St. Agnes at 651- 293-1710.

» View the music schedule.


Painting of Monsignor Richard J. Schuler
Book cover painting
by Christopher Foote

View Behind the Painting: Memories of Monsignor Richard J. Schuler

This 80 page book containing fond remembrances of Monsignor Richard J. Schuler is written by present and former members of the Chorale and members of the Orchestra. It contains many photographs of Monsignor Schuler, Founding Director of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale and former pastor of the Church of St. Agnes in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

» This book can be viewed and printed here.

For further information, please contact Virginia Schubert, President of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale at chorale@stagnes.net.


The Relationship Between the Chorale and the Church of St. Agnes

Although the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale is an independent non-profit corporation, there is a close relationship between the Chorale and the Church of St. Agnes. The Chorale has sung the 10 o'clock Latin High Mass at the Church of St. Agnes on a regular basis since 1974. This relationship seems natural because the Chorale's founding director, Monsignor Richard J. Schuler, was also the pastor of the Church of St. Agnes. In addition, ever since 1974, the mission of the Chorale has been to sing the great Masses of the 18th and 19th centuries with orchestra in the context of the sacred liturgy of the Mass for which they were written. The music sung by the Chorale is an integral part of the Mass. The Church of St. Agnes has a strong Austrian heritage, and the Chorale's core repertory includes some of the greatest Viennese classical Masses of all time. The Chorale is thus able to carry on the faith, culture, and heritage of the parish and its people. The Church of St. Agnes welcomes the Chorale to sing as part of the liturgy and provides rehearsal and library space for the Chorale.


Officers and Board of Directors of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale

OFFICERS
Virginia A. Schubert, President
Kathleen Bedor, Vice-President
Patricia York, Secretary
Richard O. Ellsworth, Treasurer

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Lois K. Berens
Diane Foote
Jean Haskell
Mary Ann Heine
Mary Sherman Hill
Roger Huss
Dr. James Kromhout
Rev. Mark Moriarty, ex officio
Mary Schwartzbauer
James J. Sieben


The Repertory of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale

Ludwig van Beethoven Mass in C
Luigi Cherubini Fourth Mass in C
Antonin Dvorak Mass in D, Opus 86
Charles Gounod Mass of Saint Cecilia
Joseph Haydn Little Organ Solo Mass
Harmonien Mass
Heilig Mass
Mariazeller Mass
Nelson Mass
Pauken Mass
Schöpfungs Mass
Theresien Mass
Heinrich von Herzogenberg Mass in E Minor
Johann Nepomuk Hummel Mass in B-flat
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Coronation Mass, K 317
Piccolomini Mass, K 258
Requiem, K 626
Mass in C, K 337
Missa Brevis in D, K 194
Missa Brevis in F, K 192
Missa Longa, K 262
Trinitatis Mass, K 167
Waisenhaus Mass, KV 139
Josef Rheinberger Mass in C
Franz Schubert Mass in A Flat major
Mass in C
Mass in B Flat
Mass in G
Carl Maria von Weber Mass No. 1 in G
Mass No. 2 in E Flat

The History of the Chorale

In 1956, Monsignor Richard J. Schuler founded the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale with some sixty charter members from the cities and surrounding suburbs of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Since at that time Monsignor Schuler was teaching music at the College of Saint Thomas in St. Paul, the new choir was able to make use of the practice rooms at Saint Thomas. Eventually, the college was regarded as the home of the choir. Initially, the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale did not have an affiliation with any parish in the Archdiocese of  St. Paul and Minneapolis, but accepted invitations to sing on parish feast days and at important archdiocesan functions. In addition, the chorale performed  orchestral compositions at its annual sacred concerts, usually with the assistance of members of the Minnesota Orchestra. These concerts provided an opportunity to sing some of the Viennese classical masses which could not, at that time, be sung at liturgical functions. Many American Catholics were under the (false) impression that the Motuproprio issued by Pope Pius X had forbidden the performance of orchestral settings of the mass texts within the liturgy. Thus, the annual concerts given by Monsignor Schuler allowed his choir members to study and appreciate the riches of the liturgical music of eighteenth century Vienna.

After the Second Vatican Council many parish choirs disintegrated. Many priests believed that everything during the Mass, including the music, had to be said (or sung) in English. Since there were very few artistically adequate settings of the English Mass texts, parish choirs discovered that the much hailed liturgical reform had deprived them of their repertoire. They had nothing to sing and nothing to practice. Their membership dwindled and finally, in most cases, they disbanded. The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale continued to sing settings of the Latin Mass drawn from the treasury of sacred music either in concert or, when invited to a parish, at liturgical functions. Thus, the chorale was able to survive these "lean years" of Catholic church music. Monsignor Schuler was not opposed to new liturgical compositions employing the English Mass text. In fact, the chorale has at least three or four English Masses in its repertoire. However, the few new liturgical compositions which are of high artistic quality are usually not readily received by the congregation because of their modern musical style. They do not, for the most part, establish the proper atmosphere for prayer among the members of the congregation. Therefore, the chorale continued to sing Latin Masses, but it received fewer and fewer invitations from pastors because most of them had adopted English to the complete exclusion of Latin. One concert per year is hardly sufficient reason for weekly practices. If the choir was to survive, it would have to develop a new program, devote itself to a new and unique project. The chorale's journey to Salzburg in 1974 for the Sixth International Church Music Congress, organized by CIMS, suggested a program which many choir members believed could succeed in Minnesota.

The European experience opened a new world to most of the choir members. In Italy, together with the Dallas Catholic Choir, we visited Florence, Assisi, and most importantly, Rome. In Germany, the tourist areas surrounding Cologne and Munich attracted the choir. The Austrian cities of Linz, Lienz, imperial Vienna, and Salzburg charmed the Minnesota visitors as they have others from around the globe. In all these areas, but especially in Bavaria and Austria, the choir members experienced the high tradition of Catholic church music which continues even after the council. We envied the yearly programs of the Austrian and German cathedral choirs. One of our most memorable experiences was hearing the Mozart Requiem sung by the Salzburg cathedral choir. Most of us had heard this work often, but usually not at Mass. This masterpiece of sacred music produces a wondrous effect when heard outside of its proper liturgical setting, but within the liturgy, it is transformed into a profound musical prayer for the souls of the faithful departed. The baroque cathedral of Salzburg was a perfect setting for this liturgical drama. However, the chorale did not travel to Europe  only to listen. We sang Joseph Haydn's Missa in Tempori Belli, the Paukenmesse, on the feast of the Assumption in St. Peter's in Munich. Under Joseph Kronsteiner together with his Linz cathedral choir the chorale sang the Bruckner E Minor Mass in Linz. In Salzburg at the pilgrim church of Maria Plain, the chorale sang Michael Haydn's Requiem. After three weeks, we returned home, but we did not leave Europe empty handed. With the firm resolve to implement a program of classical orchestral Masses in the Twin Cities similar to the efforts of Bavarian and Austrian church choirs we landed at the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport.

However, there were two major problems. First, we needed a parish where we could sing regularly. Second, we needed funds to pay the costs of hiring professional musicians. The first problem was resolved relatively easily. Monsignor Schuler had been appointed pastor of St. Agnes in St. Paul a few years  before the choir made its European trip. St. Agnes was founded in 1887 by German- speaking immigrants to the United States. The church is a baroque structure as its "onion" tower, one of the hallmarks of the baroque style, clearly indicates. The Masses of the Viennese classical period belong in such a parish. They could only serve to heighten the previously existing baroque, south German atmosphere. Since the predecessor of Monsignor Schuler, Monsignor Rudolph G. Bandas, had not abandoned the Latin high Mass, the chorale could sing the classical Viennese Masses at any Sunday high Mass. The Masses of Mozart, Haydn, Schubert, and Beethoven would be a pars integrans of the Latin liturgy at St. Agnes, because the language of the altar and the choir loft would be the same. If, as in some churches, the ministers at the altar employ the vernacular while the choir sings Latin, it appears as if the music is completely divorced and separate from the liturgy unfolding on the altar. Only when choir and ministers use the same language is a unity between the altar and choir loft established. Thus, the Latin high Mass at St. Agnes gave the chorale an opportunity to implement its program in accordance with sound liturgical principles. Incidentally, it may be remarked that the choir director had no problems whatsoever with the clergy. The pastor was also the choir director!

Unfortunately, the problem of funding was the greater of the two. In the first year, 1974-1975, the chorale actually sang seventeen orchestral Masses and in the second year, 1975-1976, twenty-five. We needed a relatively steady annual income which would provide the funds for the professional musicians, members  of the Minnesota Orchestra. In order to announce a program of twenty-five Masses we had to have some solid financial backing. On the average, we hired fifteen musicians for each Mass, but during the second year we added four professional vocal soloists. The need for a firm financial base thus became even more pressing. St. Agnes parish could not assume this burden. The parish was already financing a high school and a grade school. Still, under Monsignor Schuler, it had a budget for church music, but this fell far short of what the chorale's project needed.

When in September 1974, we decided to announce a program of five Masses and to organize a new society called the Friends of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, we sent letters to about two hundred people in the metropolitan Twin Cities area announcing the new project and asking them for their financial support. These people had been willing to donate small sums to the chorale on previous occasions. The response to our efforts surprised even the optimists among us! Not only were we able to finance the five Masses which we had announced, but were able to plan twelve more. Most of the members of the  Friends of the Chorale donated $25. Some gave $100 and there were a few contributions above $100. 1997-1998 is the 25th year since the birth of the Friends of the Chorale. There are now well over 1000 members who have generously supported the efforts of the chorale during  its 27 year history.

Why? Why have these people, who certainly could make use of their hard earned money in many different ways and for many different purposes, donated it for church music? The only possible answer to this question is that these people want to hear good church music sung within the liturgy. If we recall that the Viennese classical Masses have rarely been sung within the liturgy in this country, perhaps it is possible to imagine the new world which was opened to the people who attended the Latin high Mass at St. Agnes. Seldom, in this country, has such music been sung regularly in its proper setting. The Friends of the Chorale realize the significance of the effort which Monsignor Schuler, the members of the chorale and the Minnesota Orchestra, are making and want it to continue.

It is clear that the incomparable music of Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, and Schubert should only be sung as part of a liturgy which is equal in beauty. There must be a balance between the choir loft and the altar. The beauty of the music must be balanced by the solemnity and beauty of the ceremonies. If the liturgy is not comparable to the music, then the music and ceremonies are separated and there is no unity between altar and choir loft. Since the chorale inaugurated its musical program , Monsignor Schuler, as pastor, has attempted to enhance the ceremonies at the Sunday high Mass. On the great feasts of the church year, Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, Corpus Christi, and on the patronal feast of St. Agnes, Monsignor Schuler has frequently invited a bishop to celebrate the sung Mass. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has several auxiliary and suffragan bishops who are willing to sing a Latin high Mass now and then. Also, the ordinary, Archbishop John Roach and current Archbishop Harry Flynn , have celebrated the high Mass at St. Agnes on several occasions. Otherwise the celebrant sings the Mass with two deacons and ministers from the parish schools.

The high Mass at St. Agnes continues to leave a lasting impression on many people. But it is not simply the music. All the liturgical elements-- the ceremonies, the music, the sermon, the vestments, even the church building itself -- combine, when properly used, to create a beautiful, worthy, and solemn atmosphere of the sacred. Church music is a part of this whole; it is a pars integrans in  liturgia. The music without comparable ceremonies could not produce the effect which the liturgy demands. The composers did not intend the concert hall as the proper setting for their Viennese classical Masses. In light of this, one could compare Masses sung outside of their liturgical setting with operas performed without actors in concert. In both cases, the music alone leaves a certain impression, but it is incomplete. Opera music should be performed with costumes, acting, and all the other elements proper to an opera. Only then is one able to appreciate the opera as a whole. The same is true of church music. It belongs in the liturgy. The members of the Friends of the Chorale support the chorale's program because they want to participate in a truly beautiful, uplifting, liturgical ceremony. (They do not consider the program to be a series of concerts.)

The Viennese classical Masses have enriched the liturgies of many a parish in Europe and around the world. Since the council they are again proving themselves, but this time in an American parish. Every week there are new members joining either the choir or the Friends of the Chorale. The success of these Masses has been nothing short of phenomenal. But it is not entirely attributable to our own efforts. The fact is that there is a demand among Catholics, and especially young people, for beautiful ceremonies and worthy sacred music. If our program has been well received in the Twin Cities, it is more than likely that a similar program in other parts of the United States would meet with the same success. Catholics today are starved for the beautiful in their religious lives. The church musician has the knowledge and the tools to fill this need.

      RICHARD M. HOGAN

This article was originally published in German in the Austrian church music magazineSingende Kirche, XXIV, no. 4 (1976-1977), pp. 157-160. The translation was made by the author. Edited and updated for the Saint Agnes Website by Jason Miller(1998).


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