In June 2008 it was my great pleasure to welcome the St. John’s School Kantorei to perform in Madrid as part of their Spanish Concert Tour.  St. John’s School is in Houston, Texas.

St. John’s is an independent, co-educational day school presenting a 13-year sequence of college preparatory training. A non-profit institution, it was founded in 1946 to provide the community with a school of exacting standards in the development of individual, spiritual, ethical, intellectual, social and physical growth. While the means to achieve that purpose may change, it remains the basic mission of the School.

The School seeks to develop the whole person in preparation for a lifetime of personal fulfillment and contribution to society. In particular, it is dedicated to the enhancement and the expansion of future leadership for Houston and the country.

Choral ensembles perform at a variety of events throughout the school year, including the annual fall and spring shows, holiday concerts, community events, Chapel services and more.

(School web page: http://www.sjs.org/)

In Madrid, the Kantorei choir sang a range of sacred and secular songs, as shown in their programme information:

 

Sacred:

1)   O Magnum Mysterium………………………………… Tomas Luis de Victoria (c.1548-1611, Spain)

2)   The Lamb……………………………………………. Words by William Blake; Music by John Tavener

3)   Totus Tuus………………………………………………………………………….. Henryk Mikołaj Górecki

4)   Ubi Caritas…………………………………………………………………………………………….. Ola Gjeilo

5)   Ya viene la vieja………………………. Traditional Spanish Carol; Arr.Alice Parker & Robert Shaw

6)  Esto Les Digo……………………………………………………………………………………… Kinley Lange

7)   Dry Bones………………………………………………………………………. Spiritual; Arr. Peter Gritton

8)   O Day Full of Grace…………………. Danish Folk Hymn; Arr. F. Melius Christiansen (1871-1955)

 

Secular:

1)  Cantaremos……………………………………………. Traditional Spanish Dance; Arr. Ramón Noble

2)  Kaki Lambe…………………………………………………………… Traditional Senegal; Arr. Brian Tate

3)  La Chaparrita……………………………………………… Venezuelan Folk Song; Arr.Vivian Tabbush

4)  Nelly Bly……………………………………………….. Stephen Foster (1826-1864); Arr. Jack Halloran

5)  The Star-Spangled Banner…………………… American National Anthem; arr. by Lloyd Pfautsch

6)  Yankee Doodle Dandy……………………………………….. Traditional American; Arr. Deke Sharon

It was really a joy to listen to this inspirational choir, and to see the reaction of the audience of Spanish students, very much the same age as the singers: their admiration for the Texan choir was palpable.

 

 

Kantorei

Kantorei is the top Upper School chamber choir.  Selected by audition from the much larger Chorale, this select group is twenty to twenty-five members strong, and holds rehearsal for two 40-minute periods a week, with occasional extended weeknight rehearsals.  Kantorei annually participates in an Independent School Arts Festival, local High School Choir Contest, and a statewide Madrigal/Chamber Choir competition where they have consistently received superior ratings.  Singers from Kantorei have participated in some the country’s best honor choirs, being selected to sing at conventions for organizations such as the Texas Music Educators Association, American Choral Directors Association, and Organization of American Kodály Educators.  The group has performed concert tours of Austria, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, England, Hungary, Italy, Norway, and Poland. (Choir notes)

 

The Kantorei choir was led by their Choir Director, Scott Bonasso:

 

Scott Bonasso is in his seventh year as Choir Director and Music Teacher at St. John’s School, where his responsibilities include teaching intermediate general music classes and Music Theory AP, directing the upper school chapel program, and conducting the St. John’s Boychoir (a 50-voice, all-male choir; grades 4-12) which he founded in 2002, Chorale (a 50-voice mixed high school choir) and Kantorei (a 25-voice select high school chamber choir).  Mr. Bonasso is also the Director of Music Ministries at Southminster Presbyterian Church in Missouri City, TX, where he conducts the chancel choir and oversees a large music program that includes 3 youth choirs and 2 adult choirs.  Scott holds a B.M.E. degree in Choral Conducting and Vocal Performance from Sam Houston State University where he studied conducting with Peter Jermihov and voice with Walter Foster, and he also holds a M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Houston’s Moores School of Music, where he studied conducting with Charles Hausmann. (Choir notes)

 

Thanks to Wens Travel, who always coordinate all the arrangements so beautifully to guarantee a happy occasion for all:  http://www.wens.nl/index_en.html

 

All I can say is thank you for performing in Madrid, and please come back soon.

About the royalty thing….I have some Spanish friends who have lived in Houston for the last few years. When I told them the St. John’s Kantorei had been our guests in Madrid they were so impressed and said:  We don’t have royalty in Houston, but if we did, they’d be at SJS.

 

 

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