In August, St. Luke Catholic School in Palm Springs is determined to welcome its students with the promise of an expanded choir program.
The boys’ and girls’ choirs at St. Luke School are part of the nationally acclaimed American Federation Pueri Cantores, the student choral organization of the Catholic Church that promotes Catholic identity among music students. The American Federation Pueri Cantores previously held its annual Choral Festival and Mass at St. Luke Catholic Church in February 2020. Young people from throughout South Florida came together to sing one shared repertoire at the Mass and festival.
The expansion of the choir program is the result of the collaboration between Father Andrew Brierley, pastor, Diann Bacchus, school principal and Kevin Faulkner, director of music. “Expanding the choir program adds depth to our school program both academically and spiritually through its focus on liturgical music and Catholic identity,” said Bacchus.
When school reopens, St. Luke School intends to increase the choirs’ involvement in the Mass, as well as their musical repertoire and ability level. This means choir rehearsals will be a regular activity on campus and in the church. Faulkner shared that instead of students rehearsing before and after school one to two times a week, rehearsals will take place four times a week, Monday through Friday during school hours.
Students from third to eighth grade are encouraged to join the choirs, with the opportunity of taking piano and voice lessons. In preparation for a future in the school choir, students in second grade are taught to sing in Latin so as to gain the appropriate skills to sing traditional hymns. Faulkner also explained that students can audition over the summer with a simple song selection such as “Happy Birthday.”
Faulkner and school administrators are taking into consideration social distancing regulations according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Choir rehearsals will remain under the recommended group numbers, with students spread six feet apart from one another. In addition, the boys’ choir and the girls’ choir will alternate singing between the Friday school Mass and the 9:00 a.m. Sunday Mass.
“Our students are ordinary kids, doing extraordinary things,” said Faulkner. “We will be the only school in South Florida expanding our choir involvement to this level. This is a huge move for us. Although it is an old form of incorporating liturgical music in school curriculum, it represents a new avenue for our students to connect with the Mass.”
To learn more about the choir program at St. Luke Catholic School, contact Kevin Faulkner, director of music, at email@example.com. Visit stlukepalmsprings.org to read about the school’s academic offerings. To learn about the American Federation Pueri Cantores, visit pcchoirs.org.
Aleen Stanton, Florida Catholic correspondent