Musica Sacra Cantorum Cathedral Close 4 pm, Sunday, May 4, 2014 St. Boniface Episcopal Church

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Musica Sacra Cantorum
Cathedral Close
4 pm, Sunday, May 4, 2014
St. Boniface Episcopal Church

Media Contact: Gayle Williams

[email protected]

Musica Sacra Cantorum Looks Forward to a Milestone in “Cathedral Close” on May 4


[Sarasota, FL – April 15, 2014] In the final program of their “Britten to Britain” 2013-14 season, Musica Sacra Cantorum, Sarasota’s Sacred Choral Ensemble, presents a program that celebrates a milestone event for the ensemble: the first residency of any Sarasota choral ensemble at a British Cathedral.  The program titled “Cathedral Close” takes place on Sunday, May 4, 2014 at 4 pm at St. Boniface Episcopal Church (5615 Midnight Pass Rd, Sarasota, FL).   Tickets, $20 in advance, are available online at or call 941.405.7322. Admission at the door is $25 per person.


Musica Sacra Cantorum is the first Sarasota choral ensemble honored to be selected from a competitive field to serve as the choir-in-residence at Great Britain’s historic Lichfield Cathedral in July 2014.


“Cathedral Close,” the last public concert prior to their departure for the sojourn in Lichfield, England, features works written purely for the concert hall as well as selections chosen from the repertoire to be performed during the Lichfield residency.

The repertoire of anthems for the program, as well as the residency, were chosen to reflect our American heritage and includes works by some of the leading 20th century sacred music composers including Harold Friedell, Leo Sowerby, Rene Clausen, and Ned Rorem.  Two large scale works, Benjamin Britten’s “Rejoice in the Lamb” and Gabriel Fauré’s “Cantique de Jean Racine”  will be balanced by Mendelssohn’s  poignant “Hear My Prayer” featuring soprano Fiona Gillespie in her Florida debut.  We also pay homage to our British hosts with works by Samuel Sebastian Wesley and Michael McCarthy


More about the Lichfield Cathedral Residency and Cathedral Close

All great English cathedrals are surrounded by what is called the Close, a precinct of buildings associated with the cathedral and the clergy which encircle the Cathedral. Britain’s Lichfield Cathedral Close, where Musica Sacra Cantorum will be serving as choir-in-residence this July 2014, developed during medieval times. Today some medieval buildings remain in the Close, but the remaining buildings from the 17th and 18th and 19th centuries are filled with history.


Such residencies are eagerly sought by choirs throughout the world and rarely offered to Americans.  Musica Sacra Cantorum is the only American choir chosen for this year.  The Sarasota musicians will be living in the city for 10 days, working at the cathedral each day providing music for the daily choral evensong services and Sunday Eucharist.  There will be twenty choristers representing the region traveling on the tour.  Each musician will have a significant opportunity to interact with the city’s residents and businesses.  This excursion is, quite simply, unlike the traditional choir tour with short visits to numerous cities.


For more information about the cathedral and its history please visit  Musica Sacra Cantorum is listed on the cathedral’s “Visiting Choirs” page.  The present cathedral (the third to have been built on the site) has a very rich and interesting history beginning with its construction in 1200.  It has served as a place of worship and refuge for more than 800 years!


More about Soprano Fiona Gillespie hails from Pennsylvania, where she recently joined the faculty of Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA as an adjunct professor of voice. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Voice Performance from Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ and her Master’s degree in Voice Performance with a concentration in Early Music from the University of North Texas last year. Fiona sings as a soloist and chorister with professional choirs throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey and the Dallas/Fort Worth area, and has appeared as a soloist with the Williamsport Symphony Orchestra, in their recent performance of Handel’s Messiah, The Orchestra of New Spain, The Denton Bach Society, and at the Daejeon International Choral Symposium in Daejoen, South Korea, The Boston Early Music Festival, The Berkeley Early Music Festival, and The Spoleto Festival USA. Additionally, she can be heard as a featured soloist on recordings with Anam Cara and The Westminster Choir. Recent opera credits include Colette in Jean Jacque Rousseau’s Le Devin du Village and Edith in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Pirates of Penzance with the University of North Texas Opera Theatre.


Concert Location
All performances this season will take place in the acoustically vibrant sanctuary of St. Boniface Episcopal Church (5615 Midnight Pass Road, Sarasota.)


Tickets are $20 general admission available online at or by telephone at 941.405.7322.  Tickets purchased at the door are $25 per person.


About Musica Sacra Cantorum
Musica Sacra Cantorum is dedicated excusively to the performance and promotion of sacred choral music. It is the only ensemble of its kind in Southwest Florida, as it is not affiliated with any religious institution, denomination, or philosophy.  Sacred texts have been th basis of the greatest choral works ever written, by the foremost composers in history.  These include Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Bloch, Durufle, Elgar, Faure, Handel, Haydn, Mendelssohn, Mozart, Verdi, Vaughn Williams, even Puccini! Each has left a legacy of great choral music inspired by sacred texts. 


Artistic Director,  Dr. Robert Parrish
Dr. Parrish enjoyed a thirty-one year career at The College of New Jersey, where for twenty-one of those years Dr. Parrish was Artistic Director of its Opera Theatre and was awarded the title Professor Emeritus of Music upon his retirement . During this time he was also affiliated with Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Trenton, New Jersey where it was his great fortune to work with Albert Ludecke, cathedral organist and choirmaster, and to serve as conductor for festival services and concerts. 

Outside of the academic community, Dr. Parrish has had an active conducting career in regional opera houses and concert halls.  He continues his active conducting schedule to this day.


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