The Laudate Pueri Choir of the Basilica has been to many places. But few, if any, can upscale London’s Westminster Cathedral.
Following an official invitation by H.E. Joseph Cole, Malta’s High Commissioner in London, to participate in the Malta Day Celebration at Westminster Cathedral on Saturday 7 September 2019, an overwhelming response by the choir members to the proposal left the choir leaders with no choice but to accede to the request. As if there were any choice in the first place: no one in his right mind would turn down London!
Well nobody did. A solid contingent of 89 between choristers and accompanying relatives and friends could not have made a happier choice. With all due modesty, the level of singing was never in doubt. But one can never really tell before the actual singing is done. This time the choir not only did not disappoint, but sang with the customary poise, elegance and feeling to create a magical ambience proper to the celebration of the sacred mysteries. No wonder that Cardinal Prospero Grech osa who led the Pontifical High Mass did not mince his words at the end of the Mass and remarked to the enthusiastic applause of the congregation that the singing of the Laudate Pueri Choir was the highlight of the celebration and that the singing made coming to Westminster more than worthwhile. Touching words from a highly cultured intellectual to match the touching singing.
The choir performed Joseph Vella’s Missa Brevis op. 40 as a tribute to the great composer that he was. The sheer beauty of the sound created by the crystalline voices of the female section of the choir which no passing of age can dim left a mark which cannot be erased. The complex simplicity of the Palestrina motets, Ave Maria and Vulnerasti cor meum; the appeal of Perosi’s Gradual and the flow of Bartolucci’s Benedicta sit sancta Trinitas and Ubi caritas, came across with the greatest of ease to fill the spacious vaults of the hallowed place. It was indeed Catholic liturgy at its finest.
Perhaps the most poignant moment of all was the singing of the Innu Malti admirably arranged by Joseph Vella for the female section of the choir (SSAA). It was most fortunate that this magical moment was captured on mobile and uploaded. The impact of the unadorned yet brilliant rendering of the National Anthem was such that the High Commission uploaded the recording on its official website as a testimony to the greatness of simplicity and the urge to stay the moment forever.
Nobody was in a hurry to leave the Cathedral. London is well known for its excellence in various fields and the choir was at home.
Apart from this memorable celebration, the choir members and friends enjoyed every single minute of the cultural tour. Sightseeing, entertainment, shopping: you name it; London always has more.
Photos: Andrew Formosa