The Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart Schola Cantorum traveled to Québec City to sing in a Sunday, April 22 concert at the church of Notre-Dame-de-Jacques-Cartier. Accompanied by members of the senior class of 2012, the Schola’s five-day trip included excursions and sightseeing in and around the city. Québec, one of the oldest cities in North America was founded in 1608 by Samuel de Champlain and given the Algonquin name that means “where the river narrows.”
Arriving at Le Château Frontenac, a 120-year old hotel with commanding views of the St. Lawrence River, the forty-five travelers enjoyed a welcome dinner at Conti Caffe. The following day they traveled along the northern banks of the St. Lawrence to the majestic Chute Montmorency, located where the Montmorency River spills into the St. Lawrence. The falls are impressive, cascading 275 feet, one-and one-half times the size of Niagara Falls. The Newton travelers viewed the falls from an aerial tram that ferries passengers from the bottom to the top of the falls. They crossed the crest of the falls by walking along a suspension bridge, and descended a staircase that allowed them views of the falls from different vantage points.
Leaving the falls the group traveled on to Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a little town named for its Basilica that draws more than one million pilgrims annually. First built in 1658 to showcase a statue of St. Anne, the church was enlarged multiple times over the next 200 years until the present Basilica was completed in1926. In 1658 the first of many miracles was attributed to St. Anne. The First Nations of Canada (Native Americans in the US) worshipped the “Grandmother of the Faith,” later named the patron saint of Québec. Invited by the priest at Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré to perform an impromptu piece from their repertoire in the magnificent vault of the Basilica, the Newton Country Day Schola sang “Set Me as a Seal” by Rene Clausen. The travelers toured the naves and the central vault with mosaics depicting the life of St. Anne, Jesus, and saints of Canada; viewed eighteenth century sculptures and artworks; and gathered for a group picture at the famous copper doors embossed with intricately crafted biblical scenes.
Sunday dawned with a panoramic tour of “Upper Town” from the Cap Diamant promontory and followed with a guided walking tour of “Lower Town,” a section of the city that dates back to its early years. Members of the Schola then prepared for their afternoon concert in the 1853 neo-classical Église Notre-Dame-de-Jacques-Cartier.
On the steps of the high altar which sculptor Ferdinand Villeneuve shaped as a triumphal arch, the Schola Cantorum, the elite Newton Country Day School choral group of twenty-two voices performed fourteen pieces. Directed by Music Department Chair Mr. John Sullivan and accompanied by Mrs. Anne Tripp-Miller, the Schola opened with Johann Haydn’s St. Leopold Mass and moved into “I Cannot Dance O Lord” and two versions of “Ave Maria,” one by Gustav Holst and one by David MacIntyre. The Schola performed pieces from twelve different composers including Szymko, Poulenc, Mendelssohn, Rutter, and Alexander. In a tribute to their French hosts, the Schola presented Pierre Passereau’s “Il est bel et non” and closed their concert with “Salut Printemps” by Claude Debussy. Sophomore, junior, and senior girls comprise the group of Soprano I, Soprano II, Alto I and Alto II voices.
The final day of their trip to Québec was spent leisurely exploring Québec City and Onhoüa Chetek8e, an authentic re-creation of a Huron village, and enjoying a farewell dinner and an impromptu serenading of guests at the restaurant Le Rivoli.
View a slideshow of the Schola Cantorum Concert and Tour.