All Catholic Chorus: exhilarating for musicians

Anthony Abron

During the first weekend of February, six students from Malvern Preparatory School participated in the Archdiocesan All Catholic Chorus Festival. The festival occurred at Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, PA. The schools that participated spanned from Conwell-Egan Catholic High School in Bristol, PA to Pope John Paul II in Pottstown, PA. The hostess was Mrs. Marge Campbell, director of the Bishop Shanahan Choir, and the guest conductor was Mrs. Jayne Glocke, director of Women’s Chorale for the Pennsylvania State University Main Campus.

All Catholic Chorus, an organization spearheaded by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is a mass choir where the best singers in Archdiocesan High Schools and private secondary schools audition.  If they make the choir, they join each other and make beautiful music with the guest conductor. During the time spent with the guest conductor, Mrs. Glocke, the members of the choir learned about different time periods of music and the different styles of composers. The chorus sang music which spanned from the Renaissance to 20th Century Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta. Students also gained musical knowledge such as knowing minor and major chords and counting in weird time signatures to which singers are not accustomed.

The one unique song that the students performed was the Ave Maria. The Ave Maria was written in the style of Gregorian Chant. This is unusual because there were no bar lines in the score, and the music and the time signature changed mid song from cut time to ¾ back to cut time.

While at Bishop Shanahan, the students sang for up to two continuous hours at a time.  Mini breaks and lunch allowed us to mingle with the other students, and to become friends.

This was my third All Catholic Chorus Festival. I still love every single moment about the process. In the beginning, just like with anything, things were a little rough, as we experienced the fiery temperament of Mrs. Glocke. I could tell that at Penn State she doesn’t accept anything but perfection. Mrs. Glocke assigned grades to our performance at the end of each day of working. After that first day, we had a B rating – considered horrendous in the music field. By the next day of hard work, our rating was up to a A-, and by the end of the concert, she gave us over an A+.

To the students in All Catholic Chorus, music is sacred. Music is our gift of expression. Whereas sports players express themselves through their muscles, we have a muscle that we use that gets overlooked. Our muscle is our diaphragm.  As musicians, we use our diaphragm to tell stories that are encompassed in the music. All Catholic Chorus allows young musicians to go to a place where at times we might not get to go. We sing joyful music. We sing sad music. In my three years of being in All Catholic Chorus, I have never had an experience where the music was one-dimensional.

 All Catholic Chorus is an exhilarating experience where, if you really care about music, you will find lifetime friends who share your perspectives. You will be part of an experience where you can captivate an audience with the sound of your voice. To be a member, you first need to join Men’s Chorus. Talk with Mr. Liga or any of the current members of Men’s Chorus for more information.