By Theresia Titus
Cantors from St Mary’s Cathedral have shared how their Catholic faith has been deepened through music.
The workshop, a collaboration between the Royal School of Church Music and St Mary’s Cathedral, was geared specifically towards cantors from across the Perth Archdiocese, with the aim of honing their skills.
Speaking to The eRecord, Dennis Nixon and Emma Oorschot explained how they began their journey.
Dennis, who has been a Cantor at the Cathedral for some 18 months and is currently at Curtin University studying Medicine, explained St Mary’s Cathedral Director of Music, Jacinta Jakovcevic noticed him singing the Responsorial Psalm at a school event.
“I had a gap year last year when I auditioned for and joined the choir for Lent. I only started being a cantor three to four months after I joined the choir.”
Dennis said Jacinta has helped him by relating scripture to the music and explaining its relevance.
“I am learning the scriptures through music and about the meaning of music as well,” Dennis said.
“Whatever word you sing; whatever phrase you sing has to be delivered with meaning and feeling, so people are able to connect with it.
“Because at the end of the day, a cantor is there to aid the people’s understanding of the Word of God.”
Emma, who just graduated from the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA) and is now planning to continue her studies in Germany, said being a cantor helped her to more deeply understand the Mass and the meaning behind the readings.
“I think music, in general, enriches the whole experience. It’s like another dimension of faith and praise.
“Often the Psalms that I sing reflect what the reading is about, so it helps me have a greater insight into each week’s readings and understand my faith a lot better,” she said.
She added that being flexible and attentive as a cantor are important.
“You have to keep an eye on what’s going on, know when your cues are and where to stand.”
Dennis said it is essential for cantors to be able to set aside stresses and worries before singing.
“I think the biggest lesson I have learned was to not let your external issues or worries impact the liturgy.
“As a cantor, you are responsible for leading the people in music.
“If I get stressed or worried, which you sometimes can’t stop from happening, it can take a toll on the delivery.
“You don’t want to be worried when you sing; but to sing with feeling, reflecting the meaning of the words in the music,” he said.