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Workshop offers a sampler for selecting wedding music

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placeholder February 6, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 3   •   Oakland, CA
Workshop offers a sampler for selecting wedding music

More than a dozen couples, with wedding dates ranging from February through the end of the year, gathered on a sunny Sunday afternoon in late January at St. Michael Church in Livermore, where music director Barbara Pinto-Choate gave them a preview of the music that would be played at their upcoming big days.

With the emphasis on sacred and classical music appropriate for a Catholic wedding, Pinto-Choate directed vocalists Christopher Choate and Beth Holtan, the Palomino Family trio of Spanish-language musicians, and Martha Peterson, who moved nimbly between the piano and organ so the couples could hear how the selections, particularly those for the processional and recessional, sounded on each instrument.

 
Catholic weddings

For information on readings and music, visit: http://foryourmarriage.org/catholic-marriage/planning-a-catholic-wedding/
 
With about 50 weddings a year at the Livermore parish, in addition to several quinceañeras, the time Pinto-Choate would spend going over the selections individually would be more than daunting.

Her 30 years’ experience as a music director has helped Pinto-Choate recognize that couples have many of the same questions. Pinto-Choate devised these workshops, which are mandatory for couples marrying in the parish and are held about every four months.

Each couple received a manila envelope with information on how the music is selected; a sheet explaining the fees and requirements for musicians; and two sets of lists of selections for each part of the ceremony. There was room for notes.

Her goal, she told the couples, was “to make this enjoyable and relieve as much stress” as the couples plan for their special day.

It was also, she told them, a starting point. Changes could be made to selections and she would be available to meet with them to discuss selections.

What was not up for negotiation, however, was the use of popular music that the couple might like. She encouraged them to find time for such personal selections at the rehearsal dinner or during the reception.

“We are here to celebrate the sacrament,” Pinto-Choate said. “The sacrament is to explore our relationship with God.”

String quartets, hand bells and mariachis have found a place in weddings at St. Michael’s.

No recorded music is allowed. St. Michael’s requires that a parish musician be engaged for each ceremony.

With grace and excellent musicianship, Pinto-Choate put the musicians through 16 processional/preludes, four responsorial psalms, five songs for lighting of the unity candle, eight for presentation of the gifts, nine for Communion, four for flowers to Mary, and seven recessionals. They totaled more than 50 selections, in recognizable snippets, in about 90 minutes.

Pinto-Choate peppered the selections with information: If the couple like both piano and organ music selections, for example, one musician could provide both. Pachelbel’s “Canon in D,” can be used as bridesmaids process or as mothers take their places. Add a flute or violin.

She reminded the couples to consider their wedding guests’ participation in their ceremony as the music was chosen. “Will the music help people become involved in full and active participation?” she asked. She told them they had the option of a gathering song once the procession has reached the altar to get the people singing.

Pinto-Choate encouraged the use of the vocalist, who could serve as cantor and lead the guests in singing.

For many of the couples, the workshop included songs they knew and songs that were new to them. Pinto-Choate told them they could have more time to decide, and could go home and listen to selections on YouTube.

Couples were invited to return to another session, if their time frame would allow for that, to hear the selections again.

Some music needed little introduction. As the familiar strains of the “Wedding March” filled the sanctuary, heads nodded and check marks were made.

One young couple said they liked what they heard, but the fees might limit how many musicians they would have at their September wedding. Jessica Serpa and Tyler Silvia said they would probably have piano music, with Pachelbel’s “Canon in D” high on their list.

Michele Freitas and Tony Yovino left the session with a list of music they liked for their August wedding, there were some spots to be filled, but they were leaning toward Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus.”

“And the ‘Wedding March’ at the end,” she said.

 

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