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From October 11, 2012 until the Solemnity of Christ the King in November 2013, Pope Benedict XVI has asked Catholics around the world to observe a Year of Faith, as a time of renewal, reflection and deepening of faith. The Archdiocesan Choir of Galveston-Houston, as well the Catholic Schools Choir, will dedicate their 4th Annual "In Memoria" concert to this 13-month-long observance.
During the second half of this year's concert, the choir will present what has often been described as the "Mass that saved the music of the Catholic Church". Palestrina wrote Missa Papae Marcelli at the request of the members of the "other" Council, namely those 16th century participants of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation. The "Councils of Trent" did not want complicated Mass compositions, which were popular at the time. They wanted the words of the prayers and Propers of the Mass to be more easily understood. Palestrina's Pope Marcellus Mass was written to show that "Classical counterpoint and clarity of text could live together" and thus Palestrina "saved music"!
Another theme that this Year of Faith concert will take-up is music written about people of faith - namely, the saints. Luke 1:46-55, called the "Magnificat" or "Hymn to Mary," has been set to music by composers from every musical period. The choir will present a hauntingly beautiful setting by Arvo Part, a 20th century composer from Estonia. Part's setting like most of his sacred choral works draws its inspiration from the composers and musical style of the Renaissance.
The first half of the concert will close with another prayer setting. The Te Deum, or "We Praise You God" prayer from the 5th Century, is a song of thanksgiving thought to be written jointly by St. Ambrose and St. Augustine. The Archdiocesan Choir will perform a setting of this prayer by British composer John Rutter, as they did recently at the closing of the Ordination Mass of Bishop Sheltz.
The above is an overview of the thought process as well as some of the music highlights that are planned for "In Memoria" 2012 celebrating the "Year of Faith" .