Festival choir’s Dec. 13 concert in Peoria precedes Italy tour

Hello World.

CAPTION: Mary Ann Fahey-Darling leads the St. Anthony’s Camerata Chorale Festival Choir in a rehearsal. The choir will present a concert at St. Joseph Church in Peoria at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 13. (The Catholic Post/Jennifer Willems)


Before they sing for Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, the members of St. Anthony’s Camerata Chorale Festival Choir will fill St. Joseph Church in Peoria with song on Sunday, Dec. 13. The concert will begin at 3 p.m.
A reception with wassail and cookies will follow in the parish hall at 103 Richard Pryor Place.

“It almost leaves me speechless to see where they were at the beginning and where the Holy Spirit has brought them,” said Mary Ann Fahey-Darling, who is directing the group that will tour “Majestic Italy” from Dec. 30 to Jan. 7.

“The sound that comes from them — it’s such a blessing,” she said. “The music speaks to the soul. Especially at this time of year, with what’s happening in the world, we all need a few minutes to just sit and hear the words given by the Holy Spirit in this music.”

The Dec. 13 concert is the same one the festival choir will be presenting at the Church of St. Ignatius in Rome on Jan. 5. It includes “For Unto Us a Child is Born” from Handel’s “Messiah,” “O Magnum Mysterium” by Morten Lauridsen, the Franz Biebl arrangement of “Ave Maria,” “Dixit Maria” by Hans Leo Hassler, and a special arrangement of “The Huron Carol” by Steve Schuch.

The audience will also hear beloved Christmas carols, such as “The First Noel” and “Silent Night,” and be invited to sing along to “What Child is This,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful” and “Joy to the World.”

Admission to the concert is a non-perishable food item for Sophia’s Kitchen, which serves as many as 500 lunches a day out of the St. Joseph Parish Center.

“We want to wish people a ‘Merry Christmas’ but we also want them to see where they may be able to help out,” Fahey-Darling said. “Sophia’s Kitchen needs volunteers all the time. . . . Or maybe they can make a donation before the end of the year.”

There are 31 people from all over the Diocese of Peoria — as well as St. Louis and Iowa — singing in St. Anthony’s Camerata Chorale Festival Choir. A total of 58 people are making the musical pilgrimage, with Msgr. William Watson as the spiritual director.

While the group will sing in Assisi, Florence and Rome, Fahey-Darling said the highlight of the trip will be singing for the Mass celebrated by Pope Francis for the Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6. This will take them to St. Peter’s Basilica.

As they prepare, however, it is important for the festival choir to have the experience of performing for the people of central Illinois, she said.

“It’s an affirmation to the group that has been rehearsing for so long and to raise awareness for Sophia’s Kitchen,” Fahey-Darling said.

SPALDING PASTORAL CENTER | 419 NE MADISON AVENUE | PEORIA, IL 61603 | PHONE (309) 671-1550 | FAX (309) 671-1595
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