The History of the Chorale

Painting of Monsignor Richard Schuler by Christopher B. Foote

The Twin Cities Catholic Chorale was founded in 1956 by Monsignor Richard J. Schuler with some sixty charter members from St. Paul and Minneapolis and the surrounding suburbs. In the beginning, the Chorale had no parish affiliation, but sang Masses when invited for special parish and archdiocesan functions.

After the Second Vatican Council it was believed by many that all parts of the Mass, including the music, had to be in English. This eliminated the traditional musical repertoire of parish choirs and many of them disbanded or changed in nature to become merely a support for congregational singing. The Chorale received fewer invitations to sing and became a concert choir, presenting an annual concert each year. However, Monsignor Schuler, through his work with the international church music association founded by the Vatican, the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae (CIMS), knew that it was still permissible to sing Latin settings of the Mass at liturgical celebrations. The Chorale thus continued to study the great classical repertoire of Catholic church music and to sing at Mass when invited, as well as in concert.

In 1974 the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale was invited, along with the Dallas Catholic Choir, to represent the United States at the Sixth International Church Music Congress organized by CIMS in Salzburg, Austria. This trip became a European pilgrimage for the Chorale and the Dallas Catholic Choir during which the choirs sang at a Latin High Mass every day as it journeyed throughout Germany, Italy and Austria. In Salzburg, the choirs sang new music in English written for the Congress at official Masses. The Chorale also sang the Requiem in C by Michael Haydn at the Church of Maria Plain, high above Salzburg, and Franz Joseph Haydn’s Pauken Mass with professional orchestra in Munich for the feast of the Assumption. This Mass was especially moving for Monsignor Schuler and the singers and served as the inspiration for the program of orchestral Masses at the Church of Saint Agnes

Thus, in the fall of 1974, the Chorale announced a program of seventeen Masses with orchestra to be sung at the 10 a.m. Latin High Mass at The Church of Saint Agnes. Several things made this possible. Monsignor Schuler, director of the Chorale, had been made pastor of the Church of Saint Agnes several years previously. There had been a continual tradition of Latin High Mass at Saint Agnes in spite of the prevailing tendency to eliminate such Masses since Vatican II. In addition, the Chorale had a nucleus of financial supporters called the Friends of the Chorale, who had supported its concerts and its recent pilgrimage to Europe. Thus began the tradition, which continues to this day, of orchestral Masses at The Church of Saint Agnes. In the 2015-2016, its 42nd season, the Chorale will sing 28 Masses with professional instrumentalists from October to the Solemnity of Corpus Christi in May. The Chorale has the strong support of the current pastor of The Church of Saint Agnes, Rev. Mark Moriarty. However, it has the great challenge every year of raising the funds necessary to pay the professional musicians. The choir of about 65 singers are all volunteers.

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