.- Boys’ choirs have been a tradition in the Catholic Church since the Middle Ages, when men and women did not sing together in public, and boys’ higher-pitched voices were needed to round out the sound of sacred music used at Mass.
Today, the United States is home to just one Catholic boys’ choir school – St. Paul’s choir school in Cambridge, Mass. The school is open to boys in 4th-8th grade, who must audition to earn a spot in the renowned and rigorous program.
Having celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013, and having produced their first CD, “Christmas in Harvard Square” in 2014, the school has enjoyed a recent uptick in interest and awareness of both their program and music.
Given the success of their first CD, the group decided to produce another CD entitled “Ave Maria,” with a wide variety of sacred music centered on the theme of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which was released on Sept. 8, the feast of the Nativity of Mary.
“(We) wanted to do something that would be ‘in season’ all year round, so something that honors Our Lady seemed like the perfect choice,” choirmaster John Robinson told CNA in e-mail comments.
“There is such an amazing richness of music that honors Our Lady,” he said. “Because Mary is so central to everything we believe, we felt that music that honors her can also show certain devotional aspects of other themes as well, so the recording has a wide range of subject matter.”
The 18 tracks selected for the CD cover a range of lesser-known as well as more popular pieces of sacred music, from Gregorian chant written in the 7th century to works written as recently as the 19th and 20th centuries.
The boys in the choir school have a small window of time to capitalize on their young voices – the younger boys in 4th and 5th grade go through a practice phase before joining the older choristers, usually around 6th grade.
Each piece in “Ave Maria” is meant to highlight the…