2012 Children's Choir Camp
Posted in Events on August 17, 2012
Gregorian chant choir camp

Nestled in the rolling hills of northern Kentucky, the former Mount Saint Joseph Academy campus provided the idyllic setting for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest's 3rd Annual Choir Camp. Thirty-six children coming from all over the country devoted a week to singing, music and deepening their Faith.  In a world where beauty and genuine art are increasingly uncommon, the five-day Choir Camp offered a unique occasion for the children to develop their musical gifts for the glory of God and the restoration of authentic Catholic culture.

The camp culminating with a Missa Cantata on the final day, the children passed much of their time in practicing for the Mass, singing as well as preparing a small orchestra.  Learning classical vocal technique throughout the week, the children were able to sing the little known Messe Brève of Léo Delibes, in addition to the Epistle Sonata No. 15 of Mozart.  A highlight was the Sanctus and Benedictus of the Missa de Sanctae Ursulae for organ, strings and treble choir, premiered at the Mass and specifically written for this year's camp by Chicago composer Kevin Allen.  Because the camp was also aimed at the overall musicianship of the students, each day included classes in music theory, ear skills, composition, Latin and Gregorian chant. An intense musical environment, combined with enthusiasm and eagerness from the children, gave not only a splendid result artistically, but inspired these young Catholics with an ever greater love for the beauty of Sacred Music.

Gregorian chant camp

Of course, the camp environment was truly Catholic in that amidst their musical activities the children had ample time for sports and fun activities, including a talent show and skits. With the presence of an Institute priest, Canon Raphael Ueda, the children and staff were able to assist at Mass each day, as well as benefit from several opportunities for confession.  The busy daily program ended with a Rosary walk at dusk on the beautiful grounds, and the Litany of the Sacred Heart sung by the children themselves. Proof of the happy atmosphere was the many friendships formed by the children from different ages and regions, several of whom write to each other throughout the year.

The quality of the children's final performance left no doubt as to the hard work spent, and to reward their efforts the faculty performed a small operetta for the children on Thursday evening.  Written by a member of the staff and featuring the camp's director, Mr. Nick Botkins, director of music at the Institute's St. Francis de Sales Oratory in St. Louis, in an operatic tenor role, the children were introduced to the world of Italian bel canto opera. Laughing at the amusing antics of their teachers, the children learned that classical music can be fun and enjoyable. We often forget that a true Catholic culture entails not only the "serious" parts of our life, but also its lighter  aspects. A life lived for God is full of joy, and even the humorous moments can and should be beautiful in their own way.

While there may be many music camps for children in the United States during the summer, this one is outstanding in its synthesis of discipline and lightheartedness, of excellence and recreation, of art and faith. The great Dom Mocquereau said of Gregorian chant, "For chant to be prayer it must first be art."  This year's music camp witnesses to the beauty of art in the service of God, and the joy that comes naturally when undertaken with this timeless principle in mind.

Abbé Matthew Walter, seminarian

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2012 Children's Choir Camp
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2012 Children's Choir Camp
2012 Children's Choir Camp