On Sunday July 28th, the Schiller Institute NYC Chorus gave a concert at the Church of St Anselm and St Roch in the South Bronx. The chorus of about 60, performed four Negro Spirituals (one was an encore) a couple of Spanish hymns (including a popular setting of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” from his Ninth Symphony), two movements from Schubert’s Mass in G, the Sicut Locutus Est from Bach’s Magnificat, and Gradual by Afro-Brazilian composer Jose Mauricio Nunes Garcia. This concert was unique because it came together as a result of a real collaboration between the chorus and the church, which serves a largely Spanish-speaking population from the nearby neighborhood, as well as English-speaking immigrants from various European nations.
The approximately 100 people in attendance rose to their feet in a standing ovation after the chorus performed the William Dawson arrangement of “Soon Ah Will be Done” as an encore. The fact that we included music of an Afro-Brazilian Classical composer in the program, was of particular interest to the priest, who stressed that in his Sunday announcements. The church also prepared an amazing reception. Many members of the church expressed interest in joining the chorus, but hesitation because of difficulty speaking English.
We look forward to future endeavors in collaboration with this historic church. Here is a story about the church, which, unlike many city churches, is packed with hundreds of people at its 11 am Spanish-language mass. It has an earlier mass in English which is attended by 70-100 people as well. It is related by design to a Byzantine church in Turkey, and has been home to many immigrants for over a century.