How do the Reformation, the Virgin Mary, and breath-taking organ improvisation all tie together? They’re all part of the 2017-2018 Concert Series at the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans. Opening on September 1st with an organ recital by Robert Cruz, Cathedral Director of Music, that pairs J. S. Bach with his Catholic contemporaries, the season includes performances by Shreveport’s own Festival String Quartet, Prisma Vocal Ensemble, the St. Cecelia Diocesan Choir, the Centenary College Camerata, and internationally acclaimed organist Bruce Neswick.
“When the Cathedral’s Adult Faith Formation announced they would offer a ‘Catholic Retrospective’ on the Reformation during the fall and explore miracles and apparitions in the spring, all sorts of ideas for the concert series started popping into my head,” says Robert Cruz, Director of Sacred Music at the Cathedral. “Thematically, the 2017-2018 Concert Series focuses on ‘vision.’ Sometimes in a literal sense as in Kermit Poling’s Visions of the Virgin or in a special Vespers service commemorating the apparition of Our Lady of Guadalupe (that will use music composed in the Spanish New World during the 16th and 17th Centuries). But it also encompasses ‘vision’ in a more metaphorical sense. For instance, the ‘Bach and Forth’ recital will link together works of J. S. Bach, who represents in many ways the culmination of the Lutheran musical tradition, with specifically Catholic composers in a way that allows us to ‘see’ both sides of the confessional divide in a new light. And Prisma’s performance of Messiah will use the 1754 version of the work, which in some cases is noticeably different than the standard version usually performed. That again allows us to ‘see’ something familiar in a fresh and exciting way. And perhaps most ‘visionary’ of all will be Bruce Neswick’s recital in April that will conclude with an improvisation on a submitted theme: it doesn’t get any more ‘fresh’ and ‘new’ than that!”