2022 Cathedral Concert Season Launches with Success

19 May 2022

By Contributor

By Grace Feltoe

Jacinta Jakovcevic playing the organ during the WASO Concert
Jacinta Jakovcevic, Director of Music at St Mary’s Cathedral, accompanies the WASO Chorus for the performance of Cherubini’s Requiem on Sunday, 15 May. Photo: Michelle Tan

St Mary’s Cathedral in the heart of Perth is known for its on-going music program that marks every Sunday Mass and important liturgy and assists in highlighting every season of the Church for the people of the diocese. But not only is the Cathedral’s music program known for its sheer volume of music for liturgies, but also for its concerts of sacred music, hosted in the great acoustics of this sacred space.

Artists and institutes have returned year after year to perform within St Mary’s since the Cathedral’s re-opening in 2009, and Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) is among them, having performed at the Cathedral each year since 2013. Following the somber and austere season of Lent and the busy period over Easter, the Cathedral’s concert season launched with great success, commencing with WAAPA’s annual oratorio performance on Thursday, 5 May performed by the University’s classical voice students, alongside WAAPA’s String Camerata, assisted by WAAPA staff member Stewart Smith on organ, and directed by Cambridge University graduate, Christophe Karas. The concert program was a superb selection of well-loved sacred music, commencing with Mozart’s popular and beautiful Coronation Mass in C Major, K 317, the Magnificat and Nunc Dimitus by the English composer Herbert Howells, and the moving instrumental composition by Karl Jenkins, his Benedictus from The Armed Man: a Mass for Peace. Well received, the audience, students and staff were also very happy to have returned to St Mary’s with things ‘getting back to normal’ after the difficulty performers have had navigating COVID restrictions these past few months.

Choral Director, Christophe Karas, leads the WAAPA Classical Voice students in performances of Mozart’s Coronation Mass and Magnificat and Nunc Dimitus by Herbert Howells. Photo: Ron Tan.

Continuing on with a busy schedule, the Cathedral hosted the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) Chorus on 15 May for a performance of the lesser known but nonetheless beautiful Requiem in C Minor by Luigi Cherubini the following week. It had been specially transcribed for chorus and organ by Andrew Foote, director for the performance, and who holds the position as WASO Chorus Director as well as Chair of Voice Studies at the University of Western Australia. Composed in 1816 and premiered in 1817, Cherubini’s Requiem was popular at the time and admired by his contemporaries, even being performed at Beethoven’s funeral. It has since diminished in performance popularity, but obviously not entirely. St Mary’s Director of Music, Jacinta Jakovcevic, was clearly eager to have the piece performed, as she stated, “It’s a truly spiritual work expressing the many emotions the text of the Requiem Mass carries, as well as being a musical masterwork of symphonic proportions”. She highlighted that the 4th movement of the Requiem, Offertorium, was particularly monumental for both choir and organ. For Ms Jakovcevic, this was also an opportunity to ‘reprise’ her role as accompanist for the WASO Chorus.

This opportunity to perform and host both WASO and WAAPA is a special part of Ms Jakovcevic’s work as Director and she believes allows her to continually grow further as a musician. She has been associated with both organisations previously, so is glad to have the opportunity to host both WAAPA and WASO events at St Mary’s. “It’s also an important way that I can help enable a wonderful collaboration and engagement between the Church and the wider community with our concerts – they are really valuable outreach and evangelisation opportunities. It’s a real thrill to welcome the audiences here to experience these masterworks in the Mother Church of the Archdiocese.” Ms Jakovcevic also sees these opportunities through the richness of music and its vast heritage as a bridge spiritually to God. Echoing this is the Church in her pursuit for the good, the true and the beautiful, as stated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art” (#1156). As such, at St Mary’s Cathedral, it is the art form to be fostered for Church liturgies and the wider community.

WAAPA’s String Camerata perform Karl Jenkins’ Benedictus from The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace in the beautiful acoustic of St Mary’s Cathedral. Photo: Ron Tan.

Providing even more performances, the Cathedral also hosts free lunchtime recitals every week on Thursdays at 1.05pm. Only lasting 30 minutes, this is a wonderful opportunity to come and experience beautiful music in the sacred surroundings of the Cathedral during a lunch hour and everyone is always very welcome.

To keep up to date with particular happenings within the music ministry at the Cathedral, you can also follow the Director of Music Blog, written by Jacinta Jakovcevic and available on the Cathedral’s website.