London is calling this year as Christ Cathedral prepares for its 2018-2019 Concert Series. The popular music series, now in its third year, has grown each year in its reach and scope. This year’s lineup features a trio of globally renowned groups from England as part of the six-event series that runs between August and April.
This year’s series is particularly notable as it will serve lead-up to the cathedral’s dedication July 17, 2019.
“The idea is to build toward the dedication, which will be spectacular,” said Dr. John Romeri, director of Music Ministries for the Diocese of Orange. “There will be a whole year of celebration. People will be coming from around the world, from Europe and all over.”
This year, the concert series kicks off with the Libera Boys Choir from London, on Tuesday, Aug. 7. In addition to the boys choir, London will be represented by the Westminster Choir and the Tallis Scholars, called by the BBC, “one of the U.K.’s greatest cultural exports.”
The Libera Choir, consists of boys from South London schools who range in age from 7 to 16. The group has performed in venues ranging from Yankee Stadium, in a Papal Mass for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States, to cathedrals throughout the United Kingdom.
Romeri arranged the choir’s U.S. debut when he was director of music at the Cathedral Basilica in St. Louis.
Romeri said music aficionados travel from across the globe to listen to the Boys Choir, which makes its only Southern California stop at Christ Cathedral.
The Westminster Choir, established in 1901, is the second-most significant Catholic Choir in the world, Romeri said, behind only the Sistine Chapel Choir.
When not touring and recording internationally, the Westminster Choir sings daily Masses and celebrations at the famed cathedral.
The Tallis Scholars, one of the foremost Renaissance vocal groups in the world, are making their second appearance in the concert series. They have performed in venues from the Sistine Chapel to Carnegie Hall.
“They will perform an entire program of music from the Sistine Chapel,” Romeri said, noting all the selections have been played for Popes over the years. “That’s going to be very, very exciting.”
The concert will coincide with a traveling Vatican exhibit of artifacts from the Sistine Chapel.
Also featured in the series will be American organists David Ball, principal organist at Christ Cathedral, and Todd Wilson, who will each get the chance to play the cathedral’s famed organ, the largest in Orange County. And once again the annual Christmas at the Cathedral show will be a highlight.
The concert series also highlights the diocese’s efforts to make Christ Cathedral a diverse hub for all cultures in Orange County.
“Our focus is we really want the Cathedral to be in the sense of a European cathedral where it’s a center of the community,” said Ryan Lilyengren, director of communications for the diocese.
“We’re not only a liturgical but a cultural center for the city and the county,” Romeri said. “That’s where the outreach goes far beyond the Catholic Church.”
Music is a large part of that and why the diocese worked hard to bring in Romeri, who Lilyengren says is “arguably the top liturgical music director in the country,” to head up the music program.
Romeri, who was hired away from his post as director of Liturgical Music for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, took the helm as the first director of Music Ministries for the Diocese of Orange in Jan. 2016.
“Music has been a remarkable program to draw people when they wouldn’t necessarily come for another reason,” Lilyengren said.
The campus at Christ Cathedral also plays host to movies, theater, multicultural exhibits and chefs and cooking as part of its outreach to the community at large.
Romeri was tasked with not only bolstering and developing the Church’s own programs, but launching the effort to bring in top music groups to the cathedral.
According to Lilyengren, Romeri’s connections are such that “We are able to bring in acts that might go to the Segerstrom Center.”
However, Romeri says there is nothing like hearing sacred music in a sacred space.
Since much of the music, particularly organ pieces, was specifically commissioned by the Church and to be played in cathedrals, Romeri says, “those are the places where it’s heard best.”
Christ Cathedral 2018-2019 concerts
All shows at 7:30 p.m.
Christ Cathedral, 13280 Chapman Ave, Garden Grove
Tickets: $25 general admission, $20 seniors, $10 students
Libera Boy Choir from London, Tuesday, August 7, 2018,
Westminster Cathedral Choir from London, Tuesday October 9, 2018
Todd Wilson, Organist, Monday, November 12, 2018
Christmas at the Cathedral, Friday, December 14, 2018
David Ball, Organist, Friday, February 22, 2019
Tallis Scholars of London, Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Tickets will go on sale mid-summer 2018. Information available at christcathedralmusic.org/christ-cathedral-concerts or call 714-971-2141 ext. 5529.