Choir from St. Gregory the Great Academy sings for Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral

By EmmaLee Italia | Trenton Monitor Correspondent

The school choir of St. Gregory the Great Academy, Hamilton Square, had the unique opportunity April 29 to sing in St. Patrick Cathedral, New York.

As part of a regional workshop run by The American Federation Pueri Cantores – the student choral organization of the Catholic Church – the St. Gregory’s choir comprising fifth through eighth graders joined other young choristers from various schools in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland for a day of musical instruction by director Paul French, capped by singing as a combined chorus for the cathedral’s 5:30 Mass.

“It was an all-day affair; they left at 8:15 in the morning,” said Dr. Jason C. Briggs, principal, who joined the choir for the day, along with his wife and several parent chaperones. “I am tremendously proud of what our choir has accomplished over these past several years.  Walking into the sacred space of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, I was thankful that our students were able to have this opportunity.”

Each school had to register to be included in the workshop, and music for the day and the Mass was sent in advance of the event. Kristin Bergin, St. Gregory the Great Academy’s choral director, spent a long while preparing the music with the 30-plus choir students prior to the workshop.

“Kristin Bergin is an extremely talented musician and teacher,” Briggs confirmed, “and she has helped the choir, and music instruction in the entire Academy, to flourish under her guidance.”

“This is the first year they’ve done this particular event,” he noted. “In November they were part of a group that went to Carnegie Hall to sing for a Christmas in New York theme.” The choir will also take part in a choral competition May 19 in Six Flags Great Adventure, Jackson. A few years ago, Briggs said, the choir competed in a contest in Hershey Park, Pa. “They certainly make the rounds,” he attested. “They work very hard.”

Several of the choral students reflected on the experience, which proved well worth the effort.

Toni Marie Rivera, fifth grade, was excited to sing in New York for a second time, having sung at Carnegie Hall earlier in the school year. “When I saw the cathedral, I realized it was one of the most special cathedrals in the world,” she said. “I was excited to sing there.”

Eighth-grader Estelle Kulessa was impressed by the venue. “At first I did not know what to expect, because we have been other places to sing before,” she explained. “Everyone in the combined choir was cooperative and friendly, even though the choirs just met each other.  Once the Mass was over, I thought of how big the space is and how everyone assembled in the space.  I admired the altar that I had never seen before the procession.”

“I was very excited,” said Nicolina Bevins, fifth grade. “As I was walking to the cathedral I was a bit nervous, and when I got inside I thought that it was very pretty.  It was fun to sing, though it was a little difficult.”

“The preparation was intense, but it was amazing to consider amount of work was completed in a small amount of time,” said seventh-grader George Mularadelis. “Singing in St. Patrick’s Cathedral was an amazing place; it was surreal to be there.”

LIFT YOUR VOICES • The choir of St. Gregory the Great Academy, Hamilton Square, joined choirs from across the region April 29 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, N.Y., for a daylong choral workshop. The multi-state group sang music they had prepared for the cathedral’s 5:30 p.m. Mass. Photo courtesy of St. Gregory the Great Academy

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