Week 3: Sacred Music for Advent and Christmas: From Gregorian Chant to Jazz Improvisation

Week 3: Sacred Music for Advent and Christmas: From Gregorian Chant to Jazz Improvisation

Join Professor Mark Doerries, Director of the Notre Dame Children's Choir and Director of Graduate Studies for Sacred Music at Notre Dame, a graduate degree program that trains tomorrow's vocalists, organists, and conductors to reinvigorate music in the church, concert hall, and stage. In 2015, Doerries commissioned Grammy award-winning jazz pianist J.J. Wright ’14 M.S.M., ’17 D.M.A. to compose a work for Advent for children's voices, graduate vocal soloists, orchestra, and jazz trio. The resulting work, "O Emmanuel," fuses historic genres of Catholic sacred music, chant, carols, and classical music with jazz improvisation. Ten-time Grammy winner and jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval joined the choirs and vocalists of Sacred Music at Notre Dame in 2018 for a new album of classic Christmas carols with a jazz twist.

Festive Recipes from the Kylemore Kitchen

Enjoy the third of three cozy Christmas drink recipes and decadent holiday cooking videos straight from the Kylemore Global Centre’s kitchen with Chef David Harrison! Check out Chef David’s Chocolate Fondant and Eggnog.

"O Emmanuel" by J.J. Wright ’14 M.S.M., ’17 D.M.A.

Below are tracks from the album, “O Emmanuel” by J.J. Wright ’14 M.S.M., ’17 D.M.A. and performed by the Notre Dame Children’s Choir. “O Emmanuel” is a jazz cantata for chamber orchestra, jazz trio (piano, bass, drums), children’s choir, and soloists. The work sets the O Antiphons, the final seven Magnificat antiphons of Advent, intertwining Gregorian chant, classical Advent carols, jazz music, aleatoric soundscapes, and adult and child soloists. “O Emmanuel” was commissioned by the Notre Dame Children’s Choir in 2015, and the recording debuted at #1 on the Billboards Chart of Traditional Classical Music in November of 2016 and remained there for more than seven weeks. The expansive composition fuses the historical sacred musical traditions of the Catholic Church with jazz, a musical idiom long believed to be outside the realm of sacred music.

Three Movements from “O Emmanuel”:

  1. O Sapientia (arrangement of Gregorian chant)
  2. Radix (arrangement of Advent hymn “Lo, How a Rose Er Blooming”)
  3. Oriens (jazz composition for choir and trio with improvisation)

"Arturo Sandoval's Christmas at Notre Dame"

Arturo Sandoval’s Christmas at Notre Dame is the Notre Dame Children’s Choir’s second foray into the blended spaces of classical sacred music and jazz. Sandoval, a ten-time Grammy winning trumpeter, received an honorary doctorate from the University of Notre Dame in 2016. While visiting the University he approached Tom Burish, former Provost of the University, with the idea to collaborate on a Christmas album with the ensembles of Notre Dame. The Notre Dame Children’s Choir is featured prominently, as are vocal soloists from the graduate students of Sacred Music at Notre Dame. Even the arrangements for the vocalists were done by composition student Alexander Mansour and faculty member Dr. Ken Dye, Director of Bands. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboards Chart of Jazz Music in 2018, and the Notre Dame Children’s Choir performed to a sold-out holiday concert at Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. Watch this video to learn more about the Notre Dame – Arturo Sandoval collaboration:

Two Movements from Arturo Sandoval’s Christmas at Notre Dame:

Joy to The World

Silent Night

A behind the scenes look at the making of “Arturo Sandoval’s Christmas at Notre Dame.” The documentary includes interviews with Arturo Sandoval and members of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir, Jazz Ensemble, and Symphonic Wind Ensemble. For the entire concert playlist, please click here.

The Notre Dame Children's Choir

Founded in 2013, the Notre Dame Children’s Choir provides free music education to more than 300 choristers between the ages of 1 and 16. The Chamber and Liturgical Choirs have toured from Los Angeles to New York City, performed for the Hymn Society of the United States and Canada, the Organ Historical Society, National Pastoral Musicians’ Association, the Indiana Music Education Association, and led a TEDx talk entitled What If Children Were More Than Cute? The choir commissions new music from American and English composers and recently premiered a new composition by Pulitzer Prize winner Caroline Shaw. This music is published through the Notre Dame Children’s Choir Choral Series with MorningStar/ESC Music Publishers. The American Guild of Organists praised Magnificat in 2020 writing, “[The] choir sings with clarity of diction, vocal blend and balance, rhythmic sensitivity, flexibility, and precision.” Dr. Mark Doerries is the Artistic Director of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir.

You can listen to the Notre Dame Children’s Choir on their YouTube page.

Congratulations and Happy Holidays!

You’ve now completed all three parts of the Kylemore Book Club series, An Irish Christmas at Kylemore. We wish you the happiest of holidays and a safe and healthy New Year. 

We look forward to seeing you back for the next Kylemore Book Club in February 2021. In the meantime, be sure to check out the other series, podcasts, articles, and videos on ThinkND.

View the Event

Presented by

View Event

Additional Resources

Presented by

  • Purchase “O Emmanuel” on Amazon
  • Purchase “Arturo Sandoval’s Christmas at Notre Dame” on Amazon

back to top