Two days laters the American students joined 4,000 other young singers from 37 countries to sing a Papal Mass on New Year’s Day. They were mesmerized by guides and incomparable art during private tours of the Sistine Chapel and shared the almost unheard of experience of singing for a Mass of Nations at the Pope’s Archbasilica, St. John Lateran. On all levels - local, regional, national, and international, music matters.
In a powerful convergence of religious formation, artistic growth, and Catholic identity, the American Federation Pueri Cantores lies at the dynamic center of Catholic education. Reflecting equally the priorities of Church and school, this Vatican-based outreach organization, which evangelizes students through music, offers no/low-cost, high-quality musical training to Departments of Catholic Education, all Catholic parishes and schools and their students throughout the nation.
Bringing the best resources and an historically balanced, high-appeal, sacred music repertoire, Pueri Cantores sponsors student choral festivals and Masses in cathedrals and other grand churches throughout America with liturgies celebrated by cardinals, bishops, and pastors of host churches. Evoking the sound of European cathedral music, participating students from neighboring dioceses are immersed in the music of the Church and develop a keen sense of leadership in worship. For high school choirs, traditional choir festivals with a sacred music emphasis allow choristers to evangelize each other in the most natural manner: by singing onstage to receive advanced coaching from a roster of elite conductors and by performing together an opening hymn and closing anthem.
- provides opportunities for student singers from all backgrounds to participate in liturgical music, singing with their peers in one large combined choir
- is uniquely Catholic, elevates the musical excellence of the choirs and their schools, yet requires only a small part of the music curriculum
- teaches a complete service of music each year including repertoire spanning 1500 years-from Gregorian chant (a student favorite) to music of the 21st century
- handles all electronic promotion directly with conductors in all U.S. Catholic schools and registration procedure with conductors whose choirs participate in local festivals
- invites nationally recognized Catholic guest conductors to conduct the combined choirs
- generates evangelization and pride in the families of singers attending Festival Masses
- offers music focused Certificates of Attendance to all participating school conductors
- providing high quality accessible training in the music of our faith-offering advanced formation in music education and the theology of the Church
- increasing collaborative networks with students, schools, music teachers, dioceses, and cathedrals
- encouraging the inclusion of all student populations
- providing in-depth experiential instruction in the music, texts and teachings of the Catholic Church
- integrating a faith based musical education with academic discipline, liturgical practice, and a meaningful worship experience
- offering opportunities for conductor education and advancement
Administrative support is critically essential to the inclusion of the study of sacred music within a balanced curriculum and the practice of it in an academically aligned Catholic environment. Care in the hiring of music professionals, even for part time positions, is an important step toward excellence in music education and even limited financial underwriting can encourage teachers and conductors to avail themselves of professional resources which help students lead worship with musical excellence. Funding is available for the purchase of music for programs in need. Additional information is available at www.pcchoirs.org.
As Executive Director of the American Federation Pueri Cantores, Jan Schmidt is considered a leading advocate of Catholic music education in the United States. She is also the author of Basics of Singing adopted by more than 1,000 colleges and universities.