Exclusive to California Catholic. By Roseanne Sullivan
The St. Ann choir has continually performed the Church’s traditional music for 54 years, starting before radical changes to Roman Catholic liturgy and music occurred after the Second Vatican Council.
The choir’s schedule for Christmas and Epiphany this year includes Masses by Renaissance composers, Victoria, Byrd, and Morales. New Year’s Eve Vespers (for the first Vespers of the Solemnity of Mary) will include music by Josquin, Dufay, and Mouton.
The St. Ann Choir sings the chants for the traditional cycle of the Church year every Sunday at noon with polyphonic motets. For special Feasts, the choir also sings polyphonic Mass settings for the Ordinary, along with chanted Propers for the feast.
The choir sings at Latin Ordinary Form Masses at St. Thomas Aquinas Church, 751 Waverly Street, Palo Alto, CA 94301. The choir also sings Sunday Vespers at 6:15 p.m. at St. Ann
Chapel, at 541 Melville Ave, Palo Alto.
The St. Ann Choir is directed by Stanford musicology professor William Peter Mahrt, president of the Church Music Association of America, editor of Sacred Music, and publisher at New Liturgical Movement. Mahrt joined the choir as a Stanford graduate student shortly after it began in 1963, and he became director when the founding director took an academic job in another state.
The late René Girard, Stanford professor emeritus, member of the Académie Française and an influence on American entrepreneur Peter Thiel, said this about Mahrt: “I assumed that the Catholic Church and the university actively supported this unique contribution to the spiritual and cultural life of the community. The truth is that ever since 1963, Professor Mahrt has been very much on his own.”