Fr Romeo Monteiro and the Santa Cecilia Choir under his baton did it again. The Concert of Sacred Music held in memory of late Fr Cristóvao Caldeira, former Rector of the Patriarchal Seminary of Rachol and the president of the Choir from 1993 to 2000, held recently, enthralled the audience overflowing the vast newly renovated Church of St Anne, at Santana-Talaulim, Ilhas.
The concert, which was rather a prayer service, began with the Pater Noster sung in Gregorian and had two parts consisting of parts of Requiem Mass and the Lenten compositions of various composers. The requiems included Introit and the Kyrie of Gabriel Fauré, the Dies irae of Franz von Suppe, the Lacrimosa of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, the Pie Jesu of Luigi Cherubini, the Lux Aeterna of Maurice Durufle and In paradisum (in Konkani) by Fr Romeo Monteiro. Let it be noted that requiem is the first word of the introit or entrance antiphon sung formerly in the masses for the repose of the soul of one or more deceased persons; this term is now used referring to the musical settings of the chants which belong to the “Proper” of these masses as it can be seen from the repertoire chosen. Till XVI century these parts were sung to Gregorian melodies. It is only in the last five centuries that the text was set to polyphony. With over 2000 requiem compositions, they are not meant exclusively for liturgical services; they were also set for dramatic performances. The liturgical reforms, extended also to “Order of Christian Funerals”, of 1969, either simplified or omitted some of them except when the funeral is celebrated according to the Extraordinary Form of the Funeral Rite. One of them is the famous “Dies Irae.” The composers chosen ranged from 18th to 21st century including the director’s composition in Konkani “Dev-dut tuka voinkunttant gheun vhorum.” Set to orchestra and choir in four voices this composition unveiled the deep riches of the text which otherwise goes unnoticed and even unheard in the din of activity of funeral services when it is recited.
The second part included various classical and contemporary compositions dealing with Lenten themes. To be highlighted are “Since by Man and Worthy is the Lamb” from Georg Frideric Handel’s “Messiah”, “Were You There?” an Afro-American spiritual with wordings drawn from the imagery of the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of the Lord by Raymond H Haan and our own traditional Motet “Khorench Sangtam.” Earlier in the programme a composition of our own maestro, late Fr Lourdino Barreto, Jesus’ mhojea mogalla, was performed.
His Grace, Archbishop-Patriarch, M Rev Filipe Neri Ferrao, presiding over the function, paid encomiums to the performance of the orchestra and the choir and the Himalayan effort put up by Fr Monteiro for the execution of such a lofty concert and appealed to the audience to keep up the long traditions of the classical and Gregorian music when composing for and singing in the church and decried the standards of some of the modern compositions in Konkani.
Earlier in the programme Fr Lourdino Pereira, the parish priest of Santana-Talaulim, welcomed the audience on behalf of the parishioners and his own behalf. During the interval a power point biographical presentation depicted various facets of Fr Cristóvão Caldeira right from his birth to the various tasks he carried in the service of Jesus.