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Our Anniversary
St. John the Divine
Special Event
The Cathedral of St. John the Divine
Amsterdam Avenue, New York City
by Mark Thompson & Robert Doyle
May 9, 2009 Bookmark and Share

In December of 2001—a year already destined for the annals as annus horribilis—a raging fire spread through the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, causing such extensive damage that much of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral remained closed for the next seven years.  And yet, thanks to the perseverance and commitment of the Cathedral community, as well as the skills and expertise of engineers, artisans, and architects, the Cathedral atop Morningside Heights has risen like the phoenix to an even more glorious beauty today.  And what better way to celebrate the Cathedral’s rededication (and the restoration of its renowned Aeolian-Skinner organ) than with a concert with full symphony orchestra and a one-hundred voice chorus singing selections from Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Handel, and Verdi.  Few sounds are more beautiful than voices raised in joy, and Canterbury Choral Society conductor and founder Charles Dodsley Walker superbly guided his beloved choir through a chorus of Bach’s Mass in B minor as well as the Hallelujah chorus from Beethoven’s sole oratorio.  There was also the fourth movement from Brahms’s Requiem, and a particularly poignant version of Randall Thompson’s anthem, Alleluia, written during the summer when France fell to the Nazis.  As for Verdi’s Te Deum, the Choral Society’s rendition was so glorious as to assuage even the most ardent atheist.  For this was music for the soul sung in a setting that has long served as a magnificent testament to humanity’s ongoing search for meaning.

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