Saint Paul’s Choir School to feature Scituate teen in filmed concert

Scituate’s Michael Connolly, a junior at St. Sebastian’s School in Needham, is featured in St. Paul’s Choir School’s filmed concert performance “Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square”, which will be streamed online for a premiere performance on Dec. 19. Courtesy photo

SCITUATE MARINER – Michael Connelly comes from a family that has always loved music, in particular choral music.

“We decided when I was in third grade that we would take a chance and I would audition for the (Saint Paul’s) Choir School,” he said.  “I was so happy to be accepted, even with the long commute from Scituate to Cambridge.”

Connelly, a Scituate resident, is now a junior at Saint Sebastian’s School in Needham.  He recently took part in Saint Paul’s Choir School’s filmed concert performance “Starry Night: Christmas in Harvard Square” which will be streamed online for a premiere performance on Dec. 19.

Being involved in the Starry Night performance, inspired by Vincent Van Gogh’s masterpiece “Starry Night,” was “really cool” and memorable, Connelly said.

“Starry Night is both a concert recording and a film,” he said. “While the Choir School recorded two internationally successful CDs in the past few years, we have never done a professionally recorded concert film.”

If Connelly had to pick a favorite piece from the performance, it would be “Sir Christèmas,” a Christmas carol by William Mathias.

“It is very lively and upbeat and I really enjoyed singing it,” he said.  “This carol highlights the organ and each vocal part – soprano, alto, tenor and bass. It also includes everyone singing in harmony together with the organ notes resonating and floating in the air.  It’s festive and joyous, like the Christmas season.”

Connelly started singing for the Saint Paul’s Choir School starting as a chorister when he was in the fourth grade.  After graduating from the eighth grade he said he was offered a position to continue singing with the school as a choral scholar in the men’s choir, which accompanies the boys of Saint Paul’s Choir School.

“This is my third year in that position; eight years total singing for the school.”

The Choir School and the church have put a lot of effort into bringing the spirit of the Christmas concerts, normally live, into Starry Night recording, Connelly said.  The church is set up with different light structures, microphones, and cameras to capture the inspiration and joy that the Saint Paul’s Choir, the men’s choir, and Mr. Kennerly create each year with our Christmas concerts.

“This is a project we believe in and are so proud of,” Connelly said.

Singing is not only a way to bring people together, but it’s also personally very rewarding for Connelly.

“I have learned so much about music. Through the years, I have sung pieces from hundreds of years ago, in different languages such as Russian, French, Latin, and German. I am learning a love of music that was written by people who are no longer living, but their music is still so powerful when sung by a choir. This is so different from any other music experience I could imagine.”

He has always loved the annual Christmas concerts.

“It is a celebration that the community looks forward to as well as our families,” he said.  “Even though I am older, and I am in the men’s choir, I still feel like that fourth grader who appreciates how our singing helps us all celebrate the Christmas season.”

The full “Starry Night:  Christmas in Harvard Square” concert will be available to all donors to watch at their convenience beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19.  The suggested donation is $20.  Visit christmasinharvardsquare.com for more information. 

By Ruth Thompson

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The entrance of Saint Paul’s Church during the filming of Starry Night,
image by Julia Monaco Photography