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Toronto Catholic District School Board

Choral Program

 

The choral program is designed to foster a lifelong interest in music: many graduates go on to serve the musical life of their own parishes, while some pursue professional careers in music. The course of study includes daily classroom instruction in music rudiments and singing, weekly individual lessons in piano, organ and other instruments, as well as choral rehearsals and preparation for a regular schedule of performances in the cathedral and at other special events.  
 
Service to the cathedral remains the focus for choral activities, and various groups of boys sing at wedding and funeral liturgies, as well as for the major cathedral events celebrated by the Archbishop. At the same time, St. Michael’s Choir School has a long tradition of sharing its music with others by giving concerts in various communities, at churches and music festivals, and undertaking occasional tours in Canada and abroad. Recent plans have included appearances at the Stratford Festival and at an international choral festival in Prague.

In order to serve the musical needs of the Cathedral liturgies, a number of choirs are formed from the student body:
 
Elementary Choir (Grades 3 and 4): Grades 3 and 4 are considered training years, where every student begins to learn the necessary skills to become choristers. During these two years, students prepare for service in St. Michael’s Cathedral without taking on regular Sunday duties. However, notable exceptions have been made, particularly when one of the other choirs must be replaced. The Elementary Choir may be asked, for example, to sing on Christmas Day and one other occasion in the spring. The Elementary Choir sings in the Massey Hall Christmas concert, and has appeared occasionally in other venues.

 

Junior Choir (Grades 5 and 6): Regular, weekly Sunday duty at the cathedral begins when the student enters this choir in Grade 5. At an investiture ceremony during their first Mass in September, the Grade 5 boys pledge their service as choristers in the cathedral. As a sign of the parents’ involvement and commitment to the choral program, parents or guardians vest their son with his surplice for the first time. At present, the Junior Choir sings at the 10:30 a.m. Mass every Sunday. Note that this includes Sundays during the Christmas and March breaks. In addition to Sundays, the Junior Choir sings at Christmas, and at the evening Stations of the Cross on Good Friday. The Junior Choir sings in the Massey Hall Christmas Concert. Touring begins in Grade 6, while the Grade 5 students do not tour in order to provide music in the cathedral without interruption.
 
Senior Choir (Grades 7 to 12): Students in these grades are divided into two senior SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choirs. Some will sing at the Saturday 5 p.m. Mass, and others at the Sunday 12 noon Mass. The weekly obligation includes Sundays during the Christmas and March breaks. In addition to Sundays, the Senior Choirs sing at the Christmas Eve Midnight and Christmas Day 12 noon Mass. The Senior Choir sings in the Massey Hall Christmas Concert. During Holy Week, the full Senior Choir (both Saturday and Sunday groups) sings on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, the Easter Vigil (Saturday) and Easter Sunday.