A five-man choir performed a concert of Church music to a 500-strong audience
A choir specialising in Gregorian chant performed at the Esplanade Concert Hall on April 29.
The half-hour-long concert was part of the Esplanade’s A Tapestry of Sacred Music programme held from April 27-29.
The Schola Cantorum Sancti Gregorii Magni choir, with its five members – Mr Francis Nyan, Mr John Goh, Mr Leonard Cheah, Mr Gregory Tan and Mr Norman Lee – performed music from the traditional Catholic Mass.
The pieces included the Kyrie, Gloria, Paschal Alleluia, Sanctus, the Lord’s Prayer and Agnus Dei.
The group was invited by the Esplanade to be part of the programme.
The choir wanted “to share the gift of Gregorian chant with those who do not ordinarily have the opportunity to hear it”, said Mr Nyan.
He added that the performance aimed “to showcase how the many genres of chant used in the liturgy, from the simplest to the most complex, all serve one purpose – to amplify the liturgical texts, especially those drawn from Scripture”.
More than 500 people attended the concert.
One of them, a Catholic who wanted to be known only as Ms Lim, said she found the music solemn and meditative, and helped put her in a prayerful mood.
Some choir members from the Church of St Michael, who attended the concert described the music as “interesting”, “grand”, “sacred” and “different” from the usual music one hears during Masses in Singapore.
Ms Janice Chua, a choir mistress with the parish, said Gregorian chant could be introduced during Mass if the congregation is able to follow the music.
The Schola Cantorum Sancti Gregorii Magni was formed in 2005 “to assist the Liturgical Music Committee of the archdiocese in carrying out the mandate of the Second Vatican Council to promote Gregorian chant”, said Mr Nyan.
The choir is dedicated to the main repertory of the Mass – the entrance, offertory and communion antiphons and the psalm and alleluia chants, Mr Nyan said.
He explained that these parts are almost entirely drawn directly from the Bible and comprise choice texts that have a special relevance for each day’s Mass.
The group meets once a week for two hours of rehearsal.
“We dedicate much effort to this repertory because each of us has come to understand and appreciate its unique spiritual and liturgical value,” said Mr Nyan.
By Darren Boon