“The one who sings well, prays twice!” I’ve always loved this adage from St. Augustine. Perhaps that’s the reason why I’ve always been a strong advocate for supporting vibrant and quality music ministry programs in our parishes and diocese. When I was named Rector of Holy Family Cathedral in 1988, one of my major priorities was to continue to support the outstanding music ministry program established by my predecessors. Within a relatively short period of time, I brought onto the music staff a new full time director by the name of Matthew Gray. I had met Matt in my previous role as Director of the Office for Liturgy and Music in the Diocese. At the time, Matt was involved in leading a small contemporary ensemble at a parish in the Los Angeles Archdiocese. Once Matt was on board at the Cathedral, his musical interests and skills expanded exponentially. He eventually went on to earn an M.A. in Choral Conducting and to shape a musical sound with the various Cathedral choirs and vocal ensembles that became an example to the entire Diocese.
In 2003 when I was named Rector of Mission Basilica San Juan Capistrano, an opportunity for a new Director of Music Ministry became available and I offered the position to Matt. Having forged endearing bonds to both his choirs at the Cathedral as well as to the parishioners there, he nevertheless accepted the position and continues to this day as Music Director at the Basilica.
For nearly 30 years, I consider it more than good fortune that Matt and I have been ministerial colleagues in the service of God’s People. I preached God’s Holy Word and Matt made that Holy Word come alive in the inspiring music and professional excellence that he has always brought to his craft.
Thirteen years ago, Matt fulfilled a long-held dream of developing a small professional vocal ensemble that is called The De Angelis Vocal Ensemble. Over the intervening years, the group’s reputation for musical excellence and innovative repertoire introducing audiences to 20th & 21st century choral composers, has become the hallmark of their distinctive style. Many of their performances are held in the exquisitely beautiful and acoustically perfect Mission Basilica (he said humbly!). With an acoustical reverberation of over 5 seconds, the Basilica interior rivals that of the great Cathedrals of Europe.
The following link details information regarding their upcoming new Season of concerts. It will be another exciting year of beautiful music-making for them. For all music lovers, here in the County and your friends, I encourage you to consider both attending and supporting this cultural treasure in our midst.