Youth Choir Unites Diocesan Family in Song

BRIDGEPORT— Bishop Frank J. Caggiano and more than 800 people in attendance received an early Christmas present when the Diocesan Youth Choir delivered its most accomplished and vibrant performance yet at the “Arise and Shine” Christmas Concert at the Klein Memorial Auditorium in Bridgeport on Friday evening.

In a remarkable performance the 135-member choir under the direction of Mary Bozzuti Higgins united the diocesan family and inspired all those present with a joyful and reverent celebration of Christmas.

The choir, featuring singers from grade six through seniors in college, received a standing ovation at the end of the hour-long performance, which included traditional Christmas music and contemporary classics.

Their voices lit up the first evening of the winter season as proud parents and friends recorded the performance on their cell phones and responded with thunderous applause.

“As we stand at the threshold of Christmas there is no better way to prepare than to raise our hearts in song. This has been a night of grace that we have spent together because of these young people,” the bishop said in his remarks following the concert.

“In a divided world, they have shown us what different people can do working together. In a wounded world, they have given us a taste of what it means to be healed. In a world of hatred, they have shown us the power of love,” said the bishop as he thanked the young people.

From the rousing version of “Arise and Shine” that began the concert to the reverent and resonant arrangement of “Dark is the Silent Night” that ended the program, the choir soared and seemed to gain strength from the four years that many of the members, including returning college students, have worked together.

The choir, which performed in their signature blue and white robes, sang in front of a beautiful alpine backdrop designed by J. Galt Design Backdrops.

One of the highlights of the evening was the performance of “Christ Child Noel,” which brought out members of children’s choirs from St. Theresa in Trumbull, Our Lady of Fatima in Wilton, and St. Matthew in Norwalk to join the larger chorus.

Photos by Amy Mortensen

This year’s concert also introduced new music with an 8-part cantata, “Were you There on That Christmas Night,” an extended and innovative movement combining different musical styles that interwove Christmas standards with contemporary songs and arrangements.

Student narrators for the cantata included Jack Smith of Fairfield Prep; Julia Rosati, St. Joseph High School; Emma Baughman, Immaculate High School; Thomas Griffin, St. Joseph High School; Odera Smart, Kolbe Cathedral High School; Evan Bean, Fairfield Prep; Gabrielle Wasco, Joel Barlow High School; and Citlalli Santiago of Kolbe Cathedral High School.

The young people’s voices also soared on “Mary Did You Know,” a contemporary classic, and “Believe,” a selection from the popular movie The Polar Express.

The young singers were backed by a gifted seven-piece ensemble including Clay Zambo, accompanist and arranger; Jessica Raposo, flute; Don O’Keefe, percussion; Nick Loafman, Trumpet; Dr. Ralph Kirmser, Oboe; Joachim Petzold, Trombone, and Robert Lenkowski, violin.

“What an accomplishment,” said Father Robert Kinnally, Chancellor of the Diocese and pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in New Canaan, in his welcome in which he noted that the choir was formed four years ago, as a “dream of our bishop.”

Mary Bozzuti Higgins, who demonstrated why she is considered one of the premier choral directors in the state, described the young singers as “happy, joyful, and full of faith.” She said they had rehearsed for months for the annual concert and benefited from the support of many people including members of the St. Augustine Guild.

To learn more about C4Y and how to support the choir, please visit the Choir’s web page.