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Church of Saint Michael launches new choir, music program
by Nancy E. Wright for Vocal Area Network
Posted September 19, 2008

Odell organ at Church of Saint MichaelThe Church of Saint Michael, at 424 West 34th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues in Manhattan, is launching a new choir and music program under the direction of Donald Barnum. (For details, see the ad in the Info Exchange.) The Church, which is served by Father Myles P. Murphy, S.T. L, and Father Peter Ekanem, celebrated its centenary in 2006. The Parish of Saint Michael celebrated its 150th anniversary in December 2007 with a mass celebrated by Cardinal Egan, featuring special music presented by the Canoni Chorale. (See the VAN Feature, Canoni Chorale: Back to Brooklyn, posted May 20, 2008.) On September 28, 2008 at 4 PM, the Canoni Chorale, under the direction of Donald Barnum, will return to St. Michael's with a concert of major liturgical masterpieces and other sacred repertoire, in celebration of the church's Patron Saint Michael. (See the listing in the VAN Concert Calendar.)

Particularly noteworthy is the magnificent statue of the church's Patron Saint, Michael the Archangel, as well as statues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Infant of Prague, a replica of Michelangelo's Pieta, Our Lady of Grace, Our Lady of Fatima, Saint Joseph, Saint Anthony, Saint Therese, Saint Jude and Padre Pio. The Blessed Sacrament is situated at the church's center, just behind the main altar within a raradose reminiscent of medieval architecture and liturgical practice. The main altar, composed of Bethel White granite and installed in the year 2000, received the Bene Award from Modern Liturgy's 1999-2000 Visual Arts Awards. This altar contains three relics of American saints: Saint John Neumann, Mother Cabrini and Mother Seton. There is also a relic of Blessed Kateri.

The organ at the Church of Saint Michael, built in 1893 by J.H. & C.S. Odell Organs, is a three-manual instrument with over forty stops, originally built with tubular-pneumatic action. Prior to the initiation of the new choir, it had not been in service for more than a decade, due largely to deferred maintenance. Carrying out of series of on-site repairs, the Odell Company was able to complete limited restoration. At present a substantial effort is underway to restore the instrument to its full potential. For more information about J.H. & C.S. Odell Organs, please visit the company website at www.odellorgans.com.

The choir and organ restoration are under the direction of Mr. Barnum, newly appointed Director of Music at the Church of St. Michael. Originally from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, conductor and dramatic baritone Donald Barnum is a long-time member of the Metropolitan Opera and former Organist and Director of Music at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in the Bronx and of Saint Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn Heights, where he actively preserved the church's 1880, thirty-six rank Odell tracker-action organ. In October 2004, Barnum released In Perfect Peace: A Brooklyn Pastorale, featuring liturgical music with the organ by the former Saint Charles Borromeo Choir. A recording by the Canoni Chorale is in production. Barnum served as chorus master for the Schola Hebraeica and prepared the New York Jewish Choral Ensemble for concerts at Lincoln Center and throughout the eastern United States, as well as for their debut at Royal Festival Hall, London.  He is former dean and current active member of the Brooklyn Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

For more information about the Choir of St. Michael, the St. Michael Odell organ or the Canoni Chorale, please contact Donald Barnum by telephone at 212-799-6944 or by e-mail at dcbjr1@aol.com. For more information about the Church of St. Michael,
please contact the church by telephone at 212-563-2575, or visit the church's website at www.stmichaelnyc.com.

Nancy E. Wright sings with the Canoni Chorale.

Content Contact: Nancy E. Wright.
Revision Date: September 19, 2008.
Technical Contact: Steve Friedman.

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