Parish stands out with innovative musical scholarships
World-famous for its swimmers, the popular beachside suburb of Bondi now wants to be put on the map for its singers.
In what is believed to be an Australian first, parishioners of the iconic seaside parish are being offered 12-month scholarships to learn how to sing by some of the best in the business.
In return, they will commit to performing with the choir at Sunday Masses, solemn seasonal liturgies including Christmas and Easter as well as patronal feasts throughout the year. Aimed at producing soloists and choral leaders, parish priest Fr Anthony Robbie hopes they will attract former members and new people to his twin churches of St Anne’s Shrine near the beach and St Patrick’s Church in Bondi Road as part of their ‘Evangelisation through beauty’ program.
Our purpose is to elevate people’s spirits through music and connect them to something truly beautiful. ” Eugene Raggio
Latest figures reveal Mass attendance among Catholics in the parish is at about two per cent, and he hopes the bold initiative, along with other programs will make Bondi a vital centre for worship, formation, evangelisation and social outreach.
Bondi parish Music Director Eugene Raggio said he believed it is the first time a Catholic parish has offered singing scholarships to its parishioners. An experienced organist and opera singer who has performed around the world, he said good sacred music draws people from far and wide, and hopes suitable parishioners take full advantage of the incredible opportunity on offer.
“I’ve never seen a parish in Australia offer an initiative like this upfront,” he said.
“Cathedrals do offer similar programs, yes, but Cathedrals compete with Cathedrals; parishes with parishes.
“Our purpose is to elevate people’s spirits through music and connect them to something truly beautiful. Fr Anthony Robbie, to his great credit, sees the importance of beautiful liturgy and has been keen to develop the choir for some time.
“There’s no reason why suburban parishes cannot aspire to deliver a robust liturgical music program, even with a group of volunteer singers. Music is a very important part of the whole ritual of the Mass, we need more leaders in this area, and programs like this one will help create them.”
Individual classical voice tuition will be available as part of the scholarship and will develop the scholar’s voice, languages, lyric-diction and musicianship. Applicants need to have a solid musical background and a love for sacred choral repertoire is essential.
The scholarship is best suited to a singer who is a new graduate or tertiary level student with a background in classical/choral singing and wishes to expand their musicianship.
Formal auditions and interviews will be conducted in coming weeks.
For more information or to apply for a scholarship contact Music Director Eugene Raggio at [email protected]