Concert to provide retrospective of finest music played during cathedral’s history


PROVIDENCE — In commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the consecration of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, the Gregorian Concert Choir and Festival Orchestra will present “Great Music in a Great Space,” a retrospective concert featuring some of the finest music ever played in the cathedral during its history.

Proceeds from the event, which will be held at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul, 30 Fenner St., on Saturday, May 31 at 7:30 p.m., will benefit Emmanuel House, the diocesan-sponsored homeless shelter in South Providence.

Msgr. Anthony Mancini, rector of the cathedral and musical director of the Gregorian Concert Choir, said that while there have been many outstanding concerts at the cathedral through the years, the May 31 event will be the first to follow the trajectory of the history of music performed in the cathedral, from the time it was consecrated, through its meticulous renovation over the past year.

“I’ve chosen music that I think is representative of the repertoire that has taken place and that has been sung in this cathedral over the past 125 years from the Gregorian Chant all the way up to the present,” Msgr. Mancini said.

“I tried to choose the outstanding music that has been performed here, and there has been a lot of it. There’s a great musical legacy here, both ancient and modern.”

Msgr. Mancini, who has written many pieces of music that have been performed in the cathedral through the years, has served as musical director at the cathedral since 1991, when he took over for the retiring Dr. Alexander Peloquin, who had served as musical director for the previous 50 years.

“He was my musical mentor and friend. I learned a great deal of performance technique from him, and how to interpret music and to get the best out of a group of singers,” Msgr. Mancini said.

In addition to the 40 singers in the Gregorian Concert Choir, and cathedral organist Philip Faraone, the Festival Orchestra — which will include some members of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra—will also perform as part of the musical retrospective.

Given the breadth of music to be featured during the approximately 90-minute concert, and the fact that it is being held near the end of the cathedral’s celebration of its 125th anniversary, Msgr. Mancini describes the event as “historic.”

Faraone said the selections for the evening will be entertaining for listeners in a variety of ways.

The sacred music to be performed will include selections from the Renaissance, Baroque, Classical and Romantic periods.

The choir will perform the famed Gregorian Chant a cappella, with Faraone then playing a unique piece of music on the organ.

“They will sing the Chant, and I will improvise in the melody of the Chant,” he said.

Tickets for the concert are $10, and may be purchased at the door. For more information, call the cathedral office at (401) 331-2434, or visit www.cathedralprovidence.org.