Last year, Patricia Lamb was a regular attendee at the inaugural season of Christ Cathedral Concerts.
Among the performances Lamb enjoyed were concerts by world-famous organist Peter Conte, Orange County’s own De Angeles Vocal Ensemble and the Tallis Scholars, a British early music vocal ensemble.
“The series offers both our diocese and the general public wonderful opportunities to be uplifted by a wide range of performers and musical styles,” says Lamb, music director at Our Lady Queen of Angels in Newport Beach.
At one performance, people were asked to raise their hands if it was their first time to visit Christ Cathedral.
Several hands shot up.
“That was especially exciting for me,” Lamb recalls. “It showed the power of music to evangelize. I’m really looking forward to the second season.”
Lamb won’t have to wait long.
The 2017-2018 season of Christ Cathedral Concerts begins in October with legendary organist-in-residence Johann Vexo of Notre Dame in Paris. It concludes in April with an evening with the De Angelis Vocal Ensemble.
The five concerts are part of Christ Cathedral’s efforts to build itself into a world-class center not only for liturgy, but also for the arts, as work continues on the main cathedral, which is scheduled to open in Spring 2019.
“We’re trying to reestablish an audience here,” says Dr. John Romeri, director of Music Ministry at Christ Cathedral. “We want people to come to the campus knowing that it’s a center where you can hear great music, especially sacred, choral and organ music. The idea is to have the cathedral become a center of art, music and theater that will attract people from all of the world.”
Since coming to Christ Cathedral more than a year ago from the Philadelphia Cathedral, Romeri has seen his Facebook page explode with friend requests from people all over the world, many of them asking the same question: When is Hazel coming back?
Hazel, of course, is the iconic Hazel Wright Memorial organ — the fifth largest in the world — that was the centerpiece of the former Crystal Cathedral, which the Diocese of Orange purchased in 2012.
Hazel is sitting in storage and will make her grand re-debut when Christ Cathedral opens.
Meanwhile, the Fred Swann organ — a wonderful instrument about one-fourth the size of Hazel — remains the star in the Arboretum, where Masses are held and where Christ Cathedral Concerts are performed.
Romeri, who started playing the piano when he was 6 and who has been a church organist since he was 9, is working on developing a base of donors and sponsors that would allow Christ Cathedral to stage world-class concerts year-round from 2019 and beyond.
For now, Romeri has relied on the generosity of major donors Drs. Thomas and Cynthia Coad, and their son, Dr. Christopher T. Coad, as well as Kevin T. Kowalski, to make the first two Christ Cathedral Concerts possible.
Tickets for the concert series start at $10 for student and go up to $40 for front-row seats.
“The idea is to make it affordable so everyone can come,” says Romeri, who also has served as director of Music Ministry at cathedrals in Pittsburgh and St. Louis.
Randi Larson, a choir member and member of the Pacific Chorale, will be back in the audience for the 2017-2018 season.
“What a lovely discovery,” Larson says of Christ Cathedral Concerts. “The venue is intimate and the experience very personal and exhilarating. Every single concert I have attended has filled my soul to the brim with joy.”
For more information or to purchase tickets, please call (714) 971-2141, ext. 5529. For more info, visit christcathedralmusic.org/christ-cathedral-concerts or email [email protected].
Here is the schedule for the 2017-2018 Christ Cathedral Concerts series (the acclaimed British boy choir Libera performed in late July).
Organist at Notre Dame, Paris
Monday, Oct. 9, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Vexo has performed extensively in Europe, the U.S., Canada and Russia. He is the organist for both the choir organ at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris and the great organ of the Cathedral of Nancy.
Stile Antico from London
Friday, Oct. 27, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
This early music ensemble is one of the world’s finest vocal ensembles, renowned for vibrant and expressive performances of music from the Renaissance.
Christmas at the Cathedral
Cathedral and Diocesan Choirs
Friday, Dec. 15, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
The Diocesan Choir of the Diocese of Orange, the Diocesan Children’s Choir, the Christ Cathedral Spanish Choir and the Christ Cathedral Choir will help usher in the blessed season of Christmas with splendid carols, both new and old. The Christmas Concert will also feature guest tenor Cesar Sanchez.
The Organists of Christ Cathedral in Concert
Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, 7:30 p.m.
Music Director John Romeri and Principle Organist David L. Ball will perform, along with guest organists Fr. Christopher Smith and Bishop Kevin Vann.
De Angelis Vocal Ensemble
Friday, April 20, 2018, 8 p.m.
Enjoy one of Southern California’s finest vocal ensembles as they transport you to the glories of France in a program entitled ‘Sacré France.”