Gabriel Fauré
Requiem & Other Masterworks:
Project BIO

Gabriel Fauré 
& Other Masterworks

With the Boston Sinfonia
Directed by James Kennerley

On the heels of two celebrated Billboard Chart-Topping recordings by The Boys of Saint Paul’s Choir School (Christmas in Harvard Square and Ave Maria), comes their new release— Fauré’s Requiem & Other Masterworks. Presenting fresh arrangements of music by Gabriel Fauré (1845-1924), starting with the French composer’s ever-touching Requiem, The Boys of St. Paul’s Choir School gives new life to one of the most beloved pieces of the late Romantic-era choral repertoire. Also featured is the debut recording of the composer’s early, lyrical Cantique de Jean Racine, appearing in a new orchestration. In addition, the album includes a trio of original works composed by James Kennerley, the Choir Director of Saint Paul’s, framed by expressive renditions of ancient plainchant hymns. Along with the Fauré works and the plainchant, Kennerley’s dynamic compositions — the four-part Missa Sanctae Mariae Virginae, plus settings of O Salutaris Hostia and O Sacrum Convivium — help demonstrate the range of vibrant musical offerings central to Saint Paul’s. In addition to the extraordinary tradition and sound of the boy choristers, the album’s performances feature The Choir of Saint Paul’s, which includes professional tenor, alto and bass voices. Recorded by multiple Grammy-winner Brad Michel in the rich acoustics of Saint Paul’s Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the singers teamed with the chamber orchestra which features members of the Boston Symphony and organist Owen Reid to produce the intimate spirit ideal for Fauré’s music and the other selections.

About Gabriel Fauré Requiem & Other Masterworks, Kennerley writes: “The theme of this album’s program was drawn from an image of the Requiem text, “lux perpetua” — perpetual light — symbolic of the everlasting peace in Heaven, but also the immense beauty and comfort that the Saint Paul’s Choir and, especially, our boy choristers bring to tens of thousands of people each year through their daily singing of the Mass and Vespers, along with concerts, recordings and international tours. Saint Paul’s in Harvard Square was founded in 1875 and celebrates its 150 th anniversary in 2025. The Saint Paul’s Choir School was founded by Theodore Marier in 1963, marking its 60 th anniversary next year. This recording is dedicated to him in thanks for his extraordinary sense of vision and tenacity, and to all those who have continued to ensure the choir’s flourishing in subsequent generations. We are particularly indebted to our choristers and their families, who give so much of their time and talents to share the beauty of music with the world.”

Producer-engineer Brad Michel, who has shepherded hundreds of acclaimed classical recordings into the world over the past 30-plus years, also helmed a previous Saint Paul’s Choir recording, Ave Maria, released in 2017. He calls the St. Paul’s Church “a wonderful building,” with a “big, robust, warm sound,” ideal for Fauré’s Requiem, in particular. And he’s full of praise for the boy choristers. “it’s a pleasure to experience the youthful energy and raw talent of these boys,” he says. “They give it their all, and you can feel their excitement in the air. There are also a lot of distinctive colors in this performance of the Requiem — I think it’ll sound quite a bit different from most other recordings of the piece. The sound of the boys is like a sprinkling of textures, a fresh, angelic shimmer.” Kennerley, who grew up as a boy chorister in England, agrees, adding: “That’s one of the sounds that makes our recording special. Having boys singing the treble part, the top line, leads to a beautiful, effusive sound that can be really magical.”

Saint Paul’s Parish and Choir School

Located in the heart of Harvard Square, Saint Paul’s has for almost 150 years been local and global force for the renewal of Catholic life and thought. Over the decades, St. Paul’s has earned international recognition for the profound beauty of its liturgical and musical traditions — and for ministries that touch lives within the Harvard University community and far beyond. The individual parts of the Saint Paul’s community — Saint Paul’s Parish, Saint Paul’s Choir School and the Harvard Catholic Center — mutually enhance and support one another’s missions and together make up a unique center of Catholic faith, life and culture.

The jewel in the crown of Saint Paul’s liturgical life is the Saint Paul’s Choir. Founded in 1905, the ensemble is one of the premier ensembles of its type in the country. The choir comprises boy choristers, educated in the European Cathedral school tradition at Saint Paul’s Choir School; there are also altos, tenors and basses drawn from Boston’s pool of top professional singers, as well as the Choral Scholars, who are recent graduates of the Choir School. The choir performs hymns, plainchant and the finest choral music drawn from the Church’s rich repertoire sung weekly in the sublime acoustic of Saint Paul’s Church.

The Boys of St. Paul’s Choir School has long enjoyed collaborations with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Lyric Opera, Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and Boston Pops. Additionally, they have enjoyed widespread media features on Good Morning America, CBS News, FOX&Friends, The Boston Globe as well as appearances at Fenway Park, to name a few. Recent major performances include Leonard Bernstein’s Kaddish Symphony with the Boston Symphony, and the choir returned to Symphony Hall for a lauded performance of Mahler’s Third Symphony with Benjamin Zander and the Boston Philharmonic. Fauré’s Requiem & Other Masterworks, to be released digitally and on CD via Sophia Music Group/Sophia Institute Press, joins two previous albums featuring the boys of the Saint Paul’s Choir School: Christmas in Harvard Square (Aim Higher/De Montfort Music/Universal Classics, 2014) and Ave Maria, (Aim Higher/De Montfort Music/Sony Masterworks, 2017).

Gabriel Fauré

Fauré said that his Requiem, first performed in 1888, “is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest,” going on to add: “It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death — someone even called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration toward happiness above, rather than as a painful experience… As to my Requiem, perhaps I have also instinctively sought to escape from what is thought right and proper, after all the years of accompanying burial services on the organ! I know it all by heart. I wanted to write something different.” In 1924, the Requiem, in its full orchestral version, was performed at the composer’s own funeral.

Fauré was one of the most influential musicians of his generation in France, working as an organist, choirmaster, composer, teacher and director of the Paris Conservatoire. Contemporaneous to Fauré’s early life was the restoration of plainchant through the work of the Benedictine monks of Solemnes Abbey in northern France. The influence of Gregorian plainchant (or plainsong) on Fauré’s sense of melody cannot be underestimated, and nowhere is that more evident than his Requiem. Fauré became choirmaster and assistant organist at the Parisian society church of La Madeleine, the official church of the French Empire, in 1874. Initially, he deputized for his teacher, Camille Saint-Saëns, who would be a lifelong friend and mentor. Fauré went on to become the main organist at La Madeleine from 1896 to 1905. Thus, the entire musical and liturgical life of his Requiem is tied to this church, its choir of men and boys, the sonorities of the organ, and the acoustic properties of the building. Saint Paul’s Church shares many of these characteristics, most notably a choir with boy choristers singing the treble line and educated at a dedicated choir school, one of only a few in the world today.

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