It’s beginning to sound a lot like Christmas.
Students from Camden Diocesan high schools are fine-tuning their selections for “Christmas Amore,” the Dec. 3 concert to support the South Jersey Scholarship Fund for Catholic schools. Many have traveled over an hour for rehearsals to create an all-star vocal and instrumental ensemble that demonstrates the breadth of talent and commitment to the arts in South Jersey Catholic schools.
Student performers will join concert headliners the Sicilian Tenors, a nationally acclaimed trio that captivates crowds with their music and stage presence.
“It’s wonderful that [we] can share the gift of music so others can get the gift of a Catholic education,” said Gabe DiMauro, a tenor himself. The Holy Spirit High School, Absecon, senior has been singing since age 5, refining his talent with private lessons for the last five years.
Caitlin Haas, a junior at Camden Catholic, Cherry Hill, began private voice lessons at age 8. Caitlin said new connections and new friends have been a great reward for long, hard rehearsals. A scholarship recipient, she also appreciates the mission the concert supports.
“It would have been a huge shift,” said Caitlin, referring to a move away from Catholic school. “[Catholic school] has given me a chance to identify with my faith,” she said. “I can express it without fear of peer judgment… We go to Mass. We’re all in it together.”
Wildwood Catholic’s Fred Spiewak sang in his first Christmas pageant at age 4. Like Caitlin, Fred says the best part about Christmas Amore is the opportunity to meet and work with fellow musicians from other diocesan high schools. A senior who plans to study music in college, he finds the choral selections interesting and fun, and he appreciates that the concert will help families pay for a Catholic education.
“Faith has always been a part of my life,” he said. “It’s great being able to start every [school] day with a prayer.”
Claire Collins, music director at Holy Spirit High School, organized the ensemble, which features students from all six diocesan high schools. She described a magically collaborative effort among students, with a special shout-out to fellow music teachers at other schools.
“The students are bringing their gifts and talents together for something that benefits the whole diocese,” said Collins, adding that she sees their participation as a mission “to recognize what the diocese is doing for all schools.”
Collins’ passion for her work is unwavering as she describes the two primary pieces the students will perform. One is “Going Home” from Dvorak’s New World Symphony, a selection she believes reflects Bishop Dennis Sullivan’s energy and commitment to Catholic schools.
The other number is a super-sized arrangement of a Christmas classic, which Gabe DiMauro described as “a huge piece with multiple layers.”
“It’s fun to take something the audience knows and mix it up,” added Caitlin Haas. All agree the selection, and the evening, will be a crowd pleaser.
“Christmas Amore,” Saturday, Dec. 3, 7:30 p.m. at Investors Bank Performing Arts Center in Sewell. For tickets and more information: www.camdendiocese.org/christmas-amore-featuring-sicilian-tenors or call 856-583-6195.
Mary Beth Peabody is Communications and Marketing Manager, Office of Catholic Schools, Diocese of Camden.