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Parish ready to hit high note with choir concert


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SAN DIEGO — The St. Thérèse of Carmel Choir has been rehearsing for its spring concert since last summer.

It is that important.

Previously an annual parish tradition, the concert hasn’t been held since the scheduled 2020 concert was canceled in the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Father Christopher Tozzi, pastor, said the cancelation was “a heavy blow” to the parish, but the upcoming concert is generating “a lot of excitement … that we’re getting back to our ‘normal.’”

The choir, accompanied by a chamber orchestra and a guest organist, will perform French composer Gabriel Fauré’s “Requiem in D minor, Op. 48.” The concert will begin at 3 p.m., Palm Sunday, April 2, in the parish church and will be followed by a reception in the plaza.

There is no cost to attend, though a free-will offering will be accepted.

“We’re very excited to be bringing back our parish tradition of spring concerts, and I know the choir is really looking forward to it,” said the choir’s director, Catherine Marshall, who has served as the parish’s director of music since November 2021.

The all-volunteer choir, which can be heard every Sunday at the 9 a.m. Mass, is an impressive group.

Marshall, who also directs the parish’s youth and young adult choir and its children’s choir, noted that presenting Fauré’s Requiem at a professional level “is, musically, very difficult for your average music ministry.”

But the choir, which first performed it in 2008 at its inaugural spring concert and again in 2011, is up to the challenge.

Many in the choir have degrees in music, and various members have sung with the San Diego Master Chorale, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Santa Fe Pro Musica, and the St. Louis Symphony Chorus, and at such venues as Carnegie Hall; the Queen’s (now King’s) Chapel of the Savoy, London; and the Vatican.

“They’re a great group, and they’re very serious musicians,” said Marshall, who earned a bachelor’s degree in Music from UC Santa Barbara and will complete her master’s at San Diego State University this spring.

Father Tozzi said the choir “has always striven for – and achieved – nothing short of professional quality.” He described it as “a gift … that we want to share, not only with our parishioners, but with the entire community.”

In addition to its musical talents, the St. Thérèse of Carmel Choir is notable for its diversity. Collectively, its 30-plus members hail from about 10 different countries, speak 13 languages, and are accomplished in their professions.

The choir members include a university professor, two medical doctors, two lawyers, two airline pilots, an internationally renowned cancer researcher, and an international wine judge.

A requiem is a musical work intended to accompany a Requiem Mass, or Mass for the dead. Marshall said that Fauré’s is “very much focused on mercy, and consolation, and a peaceful depiction of the afterlife.” For concert-goers, she said, the performance will serve as “a peaceful entry into Holy Week.”

She hopes that the audience will leave with a positive experience of a type of music that’s “not what people … are listening to on a daily basis.”

“Every time people experience this type of beauty, it can be kind of surprising in a way that draws them closer to the Lord.”

For more information, contact the parish office at (858) 481-3232.

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