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The Schola Cantorum

Ms. Kathleen Slezak, Choral Director

Every Sunday at 9:00 a.m., the dedicated members of Bethesda’s Schola Cantorum assemble deep in the bowels of the church to begin final rehearsals for that morning’s 10 a.m. service. Having already rehearsed the music for several weeks, the choir focuses all of its concentration on perfecting every nuance of the music. Singing in English, Latin, Greek, German, and sometimes French (not to mention “old” English….which may seem like Greek to many of us!), is the norm.

Choir members must read music fluently and be able to sing their individual vocal part the very first time they rehearse a piece of music. This skill of “sight-singing,” as it is known by professional musicians, is essential in a choir like Bethesda’s, which each week requires the performance of difficult and complex compositions with interweaving melodic lines. The singers must be able to sing their parts with little or no help from the piano and/or organ, since much of the music we sing was intended to be performed “a cappella,” without accompaniment.

Following each service on Sunday, the choir reassembles in the Parish House to continue rehearsing music for future services. Certain times of the year present special challenges for the group, including Christmas, Holy Week and Easter, as the group must learn and perform as many as 10 different compositions in the same week.

The choir is always on the lookout for new members, and auditions are held at the end of Sunday morning rehearsals whenever the need arises.