The Folk Choir serves the University of Notre Dame as one of the principal liturgical choirs, singing every Sunday during the academic year at the 11:45 A.M. liturgy in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Members of the choir come from a variety of academic disciplines, but are brought together by a shared love of music and a desire to practice, explore, and share their faith. Through participation in the choir, members offer themselves as gifts to one another, and to the congregations for whom they sing. They share their vocal and instrumental gifts, as well as their individual personalities, to create a life-giving, supportive family. Students often find that their experience with the Folk Choir bears witness to the love, grace, and lasting joy God calls us to share with one another. Following the example of Blessed Basil Moreau, the choir aims to unify the hearts and minds of both our members and the congregations we serve through our song.
A History of Our Song
The Notre Dame Folk Choir was founded in the late 1970s and quickly the choir moved far beyond the conventional definition of a “folk” group. Today, the choir includes more than four dozen voices along with flute, organ, violins, viola, guitar, Celtic harp, cello, and bodhrán (Irish drum). The choir works to bridge the gap between contemporary compositions of a post-Vatican II church community and the rich expression of traditional choral repertoire.
Our musical offerings have been gathered from numerous cultural traditions and special emphasis is placed on contemporary music. Many of the pieces in our repertoire have been arranged by the choir’s directors and a variety of other composers active in the field of sacred music—most notably, Rev. Chrysogonus Waddell, O.C.S.O., former choirmaster of the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. While the choir is primarily an undergraduate organization, we also welcome both graduate students and professional members of the Notre Dame community. The camaraderie between students and professionals contributes to the strength of the choir community.
Starting in the 1980s, the Notre Dame Folk Choir began to tour as part of its regular ministry. The choir traveled to Ireland for the first time in 1988, and has since returned to offer concerts and workshops every few years. The choir visited England during their 1992 and 2000 tours, and their 2008 tour took them to Scotland for the first time. In 2015, the choir was hosted by the Australian Catholic University network for their first visit to Australia. The choir’s most recent international tour was to Ireland and Scotland in May of 2016. Overseas tours have brought the music of the Folk Choir to parishes rich and poor, from the cathedrals and churches of Canterbury, Edinburgh, and Galway, to the flats and tenements of Boha Mor and Ballymon.
In addition to their international tours, the Folk Choir has taken domestic tours of New England (1995), the Pacific Northwest (2006), Florida (2014), and the Heartland states (2017). In 1993, the Folk Choir was invited to sing for the concluding Papal Liturgy of His Holiness John Paul II during World Youth Day in Denver, and also began taking shorter, more condensed mini-tours during breaks during the academic year. All of these visits and tours contribute to our mission of service to and collaboration with the parishes and liturgy centers of the Church beyond our campus. This year, from May 21 through June 3, 2018, the choir will tour through the state of Texas.
Ministry at Notre Dame
The choir sings weekly during the academic year at the 11:45 A.M. liturgy in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Notre Dame’s campus. We also provide music for dedication services, vespers services, memorial liturgies, penance services, weddings, ordinations, and a host of other celebrations which form a vital part of the fabric of worship on campus. In all ministries, the Folk Choir seeks to provide reverent, joyful liturgical music which enhances the congregation’s experience of prayer, inviting those gathered to experience the tender love and companionship of God.