Dear St. Paul’s family,
I recently asked our Canon for Music, Martin Green, to write something about our choirs. Here’s what he wrote; I found it very moving, and I think you will too.
If you’ve been around the cathedral for a while you are probably aware that our music program is a special attraction for many people. In particular, our choirs of boys-and-men and girls-and-men are unique here in San Diego County.
The past several weeks I have had visits from a few former choristers, all in their late 20s to mid-30s now. It is always eye-opening to hear their stories and to see the nostalgia that hits them upon seeing the choir rehearsal room and other parts of the cathedral that were such a huge part of their lives for a significant portion of their childhood.
A former boy chorister, upon looking around the choir room for a few moments, excitedly remarked, “That’s MY old seat! It’s still right here”. We then enjoyed stories about those years and discussed what had become of other chorister friends from that time. After a few minutes of this, he said, “You know, I didn’t realize it at the time, but being part of this choir as a kid was a really big deal. After doing some singing in college and elsewhere after moving away from San Diego, I realize what a tremendous music experience this was”.
A former girl chorister from around 15 years ago recently visited. She, too, was very taken with all the memories and was beyond excited that I was able to find one last copy of the CD that we made while she was a chorister. Even more remarkable was her personal story that followed, in which she named her time in the St Paul’s choir as a truly formative experience that ultimately shaped the path of her adult life. It also helped her handle a very difficult childhood. Hearing that the choir and the people here at St Paul’s were not only part of a great childhood music education and experience, but also formed a place of refuge and support (even though we may not have known it at that time), is something that makes my job as Music Director so very special and meaningful. It is much more than just directing a choir and leading rehearsals each week. It becomes part of the fabric of these children’s lives.
Believe it or not, the majority of our boy and girl choristers start out in our program with zero music experience. Most have never seen a sheet of printed music, and certainly have never sung in a group before. Our program is open to ALL children, regardless of current musical accomplishment, and regardless of any church membership or faith affiliation. If you would like to help give a child the gift of a love for music, please encourage young friends and family members to join, and please consider supporting our choir program financially through our Friends of Cathedral Music fund.
To quote a former chorister who is now studying abroad, “St. Paul’s choir has created such a safe space that even the most shy of us learns the courage to perform, and that carries over magnificently into our adult lives—because now we will not be afraid to raise our voices in defense of what is right.” — Martin Green
Martin himself was a boy chorister at St. Paul’s, and this year he celebrates some 40 years of making music in this parish. The Liturgical Fashion Show on October 26 will be, in part, an appreciation of all that he does for choristers, congregation, and community members.
Your sister in Christ,