Next year, on March 28, 2015, Carmelites around the world will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of the birth of St. Teresa of Avila, foundress of the Discalced Carmelite Order and first woman Doctor of the Church. In preparation for this momentous event, two virtual choirs composed of real Carmelite voices from around the world will debut this month. It’s hard to imagine but when I listened to a prior virtual choir recording, I was impressed. The singing sounded angelic!
Thanks to the wonders of computer technology, individual Carmelites from around the globe did a recording in the comfort of their own monastery and submitted it on the virtual choir website where it was synchronized with many other voices from around the Carmelite worldwide community and compiled into a single choir. If you did not know differently, one would think that the singers were all in one room. Really quite amazing.
Scott Haines produced Eric Whitacre’s first virtual choir, “Sleep,” in 2009 and the next production “Lux Aurumque” — featuring 185 voices from 12 countries — in 2010. You can listen to the production on YouTube where it has almost 4.5 million views. Scott is the producer behind the St. Teresa celebration.
The world premiere of the two virtual choirs is right around the corner. From August 21 through August 23, it will be part of a public celebration of St. Teresa of Avila in San Jose, California. It will be available on YouTube beginning August 24th. The PBS station KNPB is also producing a documentary on the whole endeavor.
The three day celebration in San Jose, called “The Creative Spiritual Genius of St. Teresa of Avila Today,” will feature presentations by each branch of the Discalced Carmelite Order (Nuns, Friars, Seculars, Affiliates), a banquet, a special Eucharistic celebration, a concert and the two virtual choirs comprised of members of the Discalced Carmelite Order from around the world.
The songs that will be sung by the two virtual choirs are: Nada Te Turbe, a Spanish piece sung by Discalced Carmelite nuns, and Salve Regina, sung by nuns, friars and seculars. Both pieces were composed by Sister Claire Sokol, OCD.
Sr. Teresita Flynn of the Carmel, California, monastery was one of the singers. “I became so excited by the idea that nuns from all different countries were going to participate in this project to honor St. Teresa,” she said. “We actually didn’t have the equipment to make the recording, and I was very lucky that they prolonged the deadline, and also that someone donated a laptop so we could do it. I did it at about 5 minutes to midnight on the day of the deadline.”
Several members of IRL Affiliate communities will be speaking at the St.Teresa event including Sr. Regina Marie Gorman, OCD, (Alhambra, CA); Sr. Mary Clare Trolley, OCD, (Terre Haute, IN); Sr. Teresita Flynn, OCD, (Carmel, CA); and Sr. Michael Crimmins, OCD, (Danvers, MA).
Registration information can be found here. For those of us who cannot attend, we will look forward to the YouTube premiere!