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Friday, January 2, 2009
"Mount St. Mary's Seminarians release first CD"
From Frederick News Post.com
By Ron Cassie
EMMITSBURG — After the Mount St. Mary's seminarian choir performed at the restored Baltimore Basilica in November 2007, several fans, including bishops attending the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, inquired if they had CDs available.
The answer was no. In its 200 years, the Mount's seminary choir has never performed any record-making. But a year later, a mobile recording unit pulled up in front of the Mount's Immaculate Conception Chapel to remedy that — and raise money to restore the Mount's chapel and organ.
The choir released its first CD, "Vespers Schola," on Dec. 8. Roughly 3,500 of the first 5,000 copies printed have been sold or given away, said Monsignor Steven Rohlfs, vice president and rector at the seminary.
"We sent about 30 bishops copies for Christmas, and we've already had several send us notes back about what a wonderful CD it is," Rohlfs said. "We think we're going to have print another 5,000."
In 2010, the Mount will mark the 100th anniversary of its Immaculate Conception Chapel, and all the sale proceeds will go toward restoring the spiritual home of the school and seminary. The national Knights of Columbus, based in New Haven, Conn., have contributed $250,000 toward the purchase of the chapel's new organ. The Knight's supreme chaplain, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport, Conn., is a Mount alum.
"The CD was released on the feast of Immaculate Conception, which is especially fitting in that it's the feast day of the chapel we're trying to restore," Rohlfs said.
"The whole project really shows Our Lady's grace in motion," said Frederick Ziegler, the Mount's organist and director of liturgical music.
The seminary's Vespers Schola (Schola is Latin for choir) performs 36 songs of liturgical music on the CD, including "Panis Angelicus," "To You Do We Come Seeking Mercy," three versions of "Ave Maria," an entire Sunday solemn Vesper's (evening prayer) service and Gregorian chants.
Seminarian Jason Burchell, 28, in a press release from the Mount, described singing in the schola as "a beautiful way to convey a love for Christ."
"We sing not because we want to polish our musical backgrounds, but to inspire, evangelize, and grow in our relationship with Christ," he said.
Seminarian Mike Zimmer, 24, said the CD is "an opportunity to slow down and really absorb the music, which will hopefully foster a setting that is more open to God."
On one hand, Rohlfs said there has been a renaissance of interest over the past few decades in Gregorian Chant records.
"I imagine that this CD will tap into that," he said.
During the academic year, the public can see and hear the choir at 9 a.m. Sunday Masses and 5 p.m. Sunday Vesper services at the Immaculate Conception Chapel.
"It's a truly magnificent CD," said Rohlfs, who noted the Mount's choir benefits from having 150 seminarian singing voices to choose from. "It's certainly the best CD in 25 years that I've ever heard from a seminary choir, without a doubt.
"As I rector," Rohlfs said with a small laugh, "I have to say that regardless, but I am telling the truth."