September 2, 2016

Vox Sacra to ‘praise God’ during first public concert

Andrew Motyka, director of archdiocesan and cathedral liturgical music, leads members of Vox Sacra during practice on Aug. 18 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The group will perform its first public concert on Sept. 8 at the cathedral. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

Andrew Motyka, director of archdiocesan and cathedral liturgical music, leads members of Vox Sacra during practice on Aug. 18 at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis. The group will perform its first public concert on Sept. 8 at the cathedral. (Photo by Mike Krokos)

By Mike Krokos

Jeanne Chandler and Tim Gelhaus listen intently as Andrew Motyka instructs them on how to refine the song they are performing.

So do 12 other people on this evening.

The 14 singers compose Vox Sacra (Sacred Voice), a newly formed schola cantorum (choir) of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

Thursday evening practices have been a constant since June as the group prepares to perform a concert of Marian choral music to honor the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral, 1347 N. Meridian St., in Indianapolis, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8. It will be their first public concert, which is free and open to the public.

“We came together through an audition process,” explained Motyka, director of archdiocesan and cathedral liturgical music. “When I put the word out that we were looking for singers, I was overwhelmed by the number of talented musicians who showed interest.”

All told, 10 parishes are represented by the group, whose goal, Motyka noted, “is both to serve the archdiocese by providing music for various events, and to create a model for excellence in liturgical music.

“Beauty is one of the pathways that leads many to God, and we strive to create and perform excellent, beautiful music that might not be possible at the parish level,” he continued. “The Church’s treasury of sacred music, especially but not limited to Gregorian Chant and polyphony, makes up the core of our repertoire.”

The group agreed on the name Vox Sacra, Motyka said, “because it not only succinctly implies what the group is, but describes part of our method. When many singers come together to praise God, we do so with both many voices and with one.”

Music has long been a staple in Gelhaus’ life. He is working on earning a master’s degree in music from Butler University in Indianapolis. His mother was the organist at his home parish in Wisconsin, and he obtained an undergraduate degree in music from Clarke University in Dubuque, Iowa.

“I really like the talent here,” said Gelhaus, who is a bass baritone with the group.

Chandler, who works as a licensed professional engineer by day, also shares her musical talent as a soprano in Vox Sacra.

“I have been with the group since the beginning,” said Chandler, a member of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral Parish, adding, “Andy [Motyka] is amazing, and I wanted to sing with the best singers in the archdiocese.”

At the concert, the group will have its first CD of music available for $10.

“When we convened the group in November, it made sense to dig right in to music for Advent and Christmas. It was too late to do much for Christmas of 2015, but we thought that it could be a good launching point for our visibility if we created a CD of Advent and Christmas music,” Motyka said.“People always enjoy listening to seasonal music around the Christmas season, and if we can give them a taste of the Catholic Church’s contribution to that, then we can start to demonstrate what this group is about. We began rehearsals for the CD right away, and recorded the tracks in April, after Easter.”

Seeing Vox Sacra work together, Motyka added, has been rewarding.

“This group has been a joy to work with. I enjoy every choir I direct, from the Cathedral choir, to the Archdiocesan Choir, to other groups that are convened for special events,” he said.

“What sets this group apart is that it is a group of leaders. It presents plenty of advantages and some challenges. Sometimes we over sing, and I have to remind them that every person in here is the strongest singer in their home choir. They have to sing out in their parishes and help lead. Here, they have to fit in more sensitively. They respond so well to each other, and to the music.”

Chandler, like all Vox Sacra members, is eager to praise God through their singing, as the group’s name implies.

“We all have different gifts, and this group allows me to use my gifts to the greatest glory possible,” she said.
 

(For more information on the concert, contact the Office of Worship at 317-236-1483, 1-800-382-9836, ext. 1483, worship@archindy.org, or visit www.voxsacra.com.)

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