Youth singers in Cathedral Choir Academy to sing national anthem at Comerica Park

Members of the Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit sing during a Eucharistic procession on the feast of Corpus Christi at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament in June. On Sept. 10, the choir academy will kick off its second season by singing the national anthem during a Tigers game at Comerica Park. (Valaurian Waller | Detroit Catholic)

Youth chorale program enters second season with high hopes for the future; singers in grades 3-9 invited to audition

DETROIT — The Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit is in many respects the “farm system” for the Archdiocesan Chorus.

But on Sept. 10, the youngsters will have their chance in the big leagues.

The Cathedral Choir Academy, an after-school music program formed last year for singers in grades 3-9, will sing the national anthem during “Catholic Night at Comerica Park” before the Detroit Tigers take on the New York Yankees.

The special appearance is the kickoff to the academy's second year, according to director Susan Lindquist. 

The academy provides children from across the Archdiocese of Detroit a chance to encounter Christ through sacred music, Lindquist said, growing in faith and musical excellence while learning advanced choral techniques. 

The Cathedral Choir Academy regularly sings at Masses celebrated by Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron.

“Children never fail to recognize beauty, and it’s our job as parents and educators to give our children the very best we can offer,” Lindquist said. “Choir membership allows these children to take their rightful place of leadership in the most important gathering of the church, the holy Mass. Seeing kids grow in their understanding of our faith, particularly the Mass, is exhilarating.”

In addition to singing at Comerica Park, the Cathedral Choir of Academy will perform during the archdiocesan Parish Day of Renewal on Nov. 15-16, and at Sacred Heart Major Seminary's centennial Christmas concert on Dec. 6.

Joe Balistreri, director of music for the Archdiocese of Detroit, said the Cathedral Choir Academy is one of the few cathedral programs around the country for young singers.

“I’m aware of only about a half-dozen youth academies; it’s not something that is done very often,” Balistreri said. “In a way, it's similar to the Archdiocesan Chorus. There are so many talented singers in parishes and schools who are learning the basics, but can thrive when put in an environment that takes them to the next level.”

Programs like the Cathedral Choir Academy are the “farm teams” for the future generation of organists, music teachers and priests, Balistreri said. “This is a way of evangelizing through beauty, using the liturgy and the music to teach this beautiful Christian life.”

The Cathedral Academy of Detroit is open to children of all faiths. The choir rehearses at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament on Tuesdays, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

With budget cuts precipitating a decline in school music programs across the city of Detroit, Balistreri added the academy affords children a much-needed platform for musical education.

“This is an evangelization program, not just for Catholics, but for kids around the neighborhood,” Balistreri said. “There has been a decrease in funding for music in public schools, and we’re filling in that gap.”

Children who are interested in trying out for the Cathedral Choir Academy of Detroit can schedule an audition for the Cathedral Descant and the Training Choir — the academy's two groups — by contacting Lindquist at (313) 883-2867.

“The Cathedral Choir Academy is highly committed to supporting and enhancing existing children’s choir programs throughout the archdiocese,” Lindquist said. “To date, CCA has invited 12 children’s choirs across the archdiocese into affiliation, offering their choristers experiences beyond the parish level as well as providing workshops and resources for their directors.

“The CCA is the ground-level for building the choir leaders of tomorrow in our church, today.”