Musical and Liturgical Riches—Particular Strengths of Notre Dame
The Sacred Music Program offers its students the entire wealth of experience and range of choirs and instruments found on the Notre Dame campus and in the immediate environs of the university. Conductors receive weekly podium time for their lessons and formed ensembles for their recitals with the Master Singers, the Conductor's Project and as part of special events mentored by the faculty with the aid of major grants. Organists perform with the famed Notre Dame organs and with the instruments in regional churches with which the Sacred Music Program has established agreements. Singers participate in all these projects as soloists, actors, producers, and as advanced chamber vocal ensemble members.
The DeBartolo Performing Arts Center contains six performance spaces. Among them is the Reyes Organ and Choral Hall. This chapel-like venue, mainly used for concerts and recitals in organ, a cappella vocal and other baroque ensemble music, is home to a spectacular Paul Fritts organ. Inspired by the work of the great north German organ builder Arp Schnitger (1648-1719), the instrument has 35 stops and 2,551 handcrafted pipes, with a marvelous hand-carved case crafted from 800-year-old Douglas fir. Students also have access to an Italian positive organ that is on loan from an anonymous donor. The organ was built ca. 1680 by an unknown maker in the region of Naples, Italy.
The DeBartolo Center also contains the ten-story high Leighton Concert Hall, a 900-seat venue that is widely recognized as one of the finest concert halls in the world. It is home to visiting artists and University performances by the Glee Club, Notre Dame Symphony, and the Chorale. Programming in the DPAC series has included Pomerium, Alex Blachly, director; Chanticleer; the King's Singers; the Vienna Children's Chorus; Augusta Read Thomas with Third Coast Percussion; Cantus; Paul Hiller and the National Chamber Choir of Ireland; and the Venice Baroque Orchestra among many other important soloists and ensembles. The Metropolitan Opera: Live in High Definition season is presented throughout the year in the spectacular Browning Cinema, a state-of-the-art cinemathèque included among the venues in the Center.
The liturgical center of the campus is the Basilica of the Sacred Heart: a gothic revival building, spectacularly painted and graced with the finest collection of nineteenth-century French stained glass in the USA. The Holtkamp organ in the loft was installed in 1976. There is never a dull moment in the Basilica, as it is filled with services, concerts, and numerous choirs, and offers a range of musical styles. MSM students are intimately involved, as many have placements in the Basilica. The staff of the Basilica has worked hard on televising Masses with their music, so the efforts of musicians reach millions of people every Sunday. Notre Dame is a campus filled with chapels: virtually every building has a chapel, and many of these offer services throughout the week, and in a range of worship styles. Dorm life, too, has a liturgical dimension: every dormitory has its own chapel, with a Sunday evening Mass and at least one Eucharistic service during the week. The acoustics of the Basilica are glorious for choral performance, as was demonstrated in January, 2011, when Miami-based Seraphic Fire, founded by Notre Dame alum Patrick Quigley, performed to a standing-room only crowd.
Opportunities abound! Recently some MSM students have begun to sing and conduct at the Masses in the Notre Dame Law School chapel, and have crafted a well-attended program of music based on Gregorian chant. Notre Dame resembles a huge parish, with every nook and cranny filled with liturgies awaiting the talents and energies of MSM students. Several students have placements in local churches, and there is ample podium time given the great numbers of working choral ensembles at the University of Notre Dame.