By Michael Messina, Director of Music

Editor’s Note: On Saturday night, after our Evensong service, we had a group meal at the refectory of the cathedral. It’s a tradition at the end of each choir pilgrimage to gather together and celebrate the work we have done throughout the week. Michael spoke words of thanks to the choir, which we share below. Imagine the scene: The refectory cafe is reserved for our private party, with a three-course meal set at small tables throughout the room, while we gaze upward through the glass ceiling to watch as the setting sun changes the light and character of the magnificent spire of the cathedral above us. Michael’s speech is interrupted frequently by laughter, applause, cheering, and concludes with a thunderous standing ovation in thanks for his leadership.

Preparation for this pilgrimage has been extraordinary! 

After 1.5 years of barely singing together, except for the recording of hymns in a parking garage, rehearsing in the garden, evensong on the playground, and liturgy under the big-top, we resumed Wednesday rehearsals in September of 2021 and sang our first Evensong spaced throughout the church, with only an online congregation. Over time, the number of singers allowed at Sunday services went from one to four to eight to 25 to full congregation.

This past year, you helped dedicate a re-voiced organ, and sang for Lessons and Carols, Christmas, Evensong, and Holy Week and Easter. In the weeks leading up to our pilgrimage you picked up the rehearsal/Evensong pace, albeit with a fairly erratic schedule, both corporate and individual. 

Many thanks to the remarkable group of people who are gathered together here tonight.

  • Our companion pilgrims who are here for no other reason than they love music and they love this choir: Joel Harrison, Karen King, Russ Lawson, Bob/Helen Dekker
  • Spouses who are here because they love particular choir members: Mike Cuticchia, Michael Arnold, Lynette Herd, and Dick Hughes
  • Parents who are here with the children they love (whether those children are still kids or are now adults): Kären Haley, Julia Whitworth, Brian Steensland, Shana Stump, Kate Howe, Cynthia Barry, and Cheryl Haines
  • Our bass section: Malcolm, Soren and Erik Hembre, Matt Hume, Gavin Craig, Jim Knowles, Kyle Myers, Chuck Schafer, and Alan Lewis
  • Our tenor section: Zach Cardwell, David Crabb, Ed Ferguson, Jerry Hall, Richard Herd, and Blake Beckmeyer
  • Our alto section: Linda Cuticchia, Grace Davis, Shannie Hughes, Mary Mail, Rebecca Mattingly, Leigh Anne Naas, Chelsea Reynowski, Syd Schafer, and Kathleen Hayes
  • Our choristers: Clara, Grace, Maxine, and Minna
  • Our soprano section: Lillian Cardwell, Erica Dollhopf, and Hannah Resnick, and particularly our guest sopranos Eli McCormack, Chloe Boelter, Erin Benedict, and Shannon Beckemeyer, without whom Lillian, Erica, and Hannah would have been very lonely, with only one or two on a side
  • Nara Lee, our award-winning organist, who has worked tirelessly, accompanied us beautifully, and inspired us with his playing of the repertoire and improvisation
  • Mother Julia who supports and encourages the work we do, is a creative problem solver, and inspires us with her preaching, meditations, and leading of the liturgy.

Mother Julia closed our meal with the prayer for church musicians and artists: O God, whom saints and angels delight to worship in heaven: Be ever present with your servants who seek through art and music to perfect the praises offered by your people on earth; and grant to them even now glimpses of your beauty, and make them worthy at length to behold it unveiled for evermore; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.