SALT LAKE CITY — More than 130 youngsters spent some time in the company of the 18th-century composer Johann Sebastian Bach at the Cathedral of the Madeline Oct. 25. The children were students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten and first grade from The Madeline Choir School along with about 30 children from the public.
Bach, who was portrayed by cathedral organist Gabriele Terrone, interacted from the organ loft with the children through a live feed that was displayed on a large screen at the front of the cathedral. He showed his young audience many features of the organ and played several pieces. He also answered questions.
In addition, the school’s St. Tilly’s and St. Nicholas choirs performed Bach’s “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” MCS Choir Director Melanie Malinka then taught the children a Bach hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God,” which some of them sang along with the MCS choirs. MCS teacher Julie Maughan also read a story about Bach’s life to the children.
This was the kick-off event for The Madeline Choir School’s Cathedral Family Series. The free event was geared toward children ages 3 to 8, Malinka said, although it was open to all ages.
Jessica Ellis, a homeschooling mom from Ogden, brought her children Micah, 5, Allison, 7, and Isaac, 9, to experience the music of Bach in a cathedral setting. The family has been studying Bach as part of their curriculum.
“It was lovely,” Ellis said of the event. “It was fun that it was interactive with the children. My children have never seen a pipe organ before.”
Mike Gitto took his son Michael, 7, out of public school for the event. It was well worth the time, he said. Gitto and his son are avid fans of music; both play the piano and have an organ at home, he said. “It was great that it got kids involved with an interactive tour of the organ,” he said. “The 30-minute length was perfect.”
Lakshmi Johal-Dominguez brought her grandson Arlo, 3, to the concert to pique his interest in playing the piano as she had just sent the family piano to Arlo’s home earlier in the week. Both of Arlo’s parents are professional musicians.
“It was outstanding on so many levels,” Johal-Dominguez said of the concert. “It taught the children concert etiquette, listening, how to respond and was so creative having someone in costume inhabit the body of Bach.”
MCS officials decided to put together the concert series “to bring young families into the cathedral in a concert setting to introduce families with young children to sacred choral music,” Malinka said.
The school has three more concerts planned over the coming months.
For the Cathedral Christmas Family Day on Thursday, Dec. 6 at 12:30 p.m., the school’s choristers will lead the audience in a carol sing-along. The children will also make a Christmas ornament and hear a Christmas story, along with enjoying a visit from St. Nicholas.
The High School Choral Festival on Thursday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. is designed for an older audience. It will feature the Choral Scholars of the Cathedral Choir and invited high school ensembles from the Salt Lake Valley. All choirs will join together for Pergolesi’s “Magnificat” and perform works separately.
During the Gifted Music School Conservatory Orchestra on Thursday, May 2, at 7 p.m., the MCS choristers will join the Gifted Music School Conservatory Orchestra in a performance of Poulenc’s “Litanies ä la Vierge Noire” and other selections.
All concerts will be at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, 309 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City. They are free and open to the public.