In the northeast corner of Spain is the region known as Catalonia (Catalunya), the home of the Basilica of Montserrat and L’Escolania de Montserrat, a really great boys choir. I just got a CD titled O Vos Omnes and it’s beautiful.
With the exception of Cantique de Jean Racine the songs on this CD are new to me and I like that. There is the title song O Vos Omnes and others like Ubi Cantas, Rosa Vera, Nigra Sum, Virolai and more.
Accompanied by an organ and backed up sometimes by the men’s choir the boys sometimes sound majestic and powerful and at other times hauntingly sweet.
I usually rely on liner notes to tell me something about the CD and the choir, and often those are in a foreign language, but this one is just blank on the inside so I had to go to the internet to find out something about them...
“At present the l’Escolania choir school is formed by more than fifty boys, from nine to fourteen years old, who come from all over Catalonia and also from the other Catalan Countries. During the four years they stay at Montserrat they study the last stage of Primary school and the first stage of Secondary School, along with their corresponding musical studies. Each student studies two instruments, piano and a second instrument of their choice, as well as Musical Theory, Ensemble and, of course Choral singing, which is the speciality of l’Escolania.”
“When the repertory requires it they are accompanied by the Montserrat Chapel Choir, formed by old choirboys and by the monks of the Ministry Chapel Choir."
“L’Escolania sings every day in the Basilica of Montserrat often to a great affluence of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. With their song, the choirboys transmit the beautiful message of the gospels which transcends linguistic, cultural and even religious frontiers. The midday Salve has become, over the past decades, the most visited daily act of the Sanctuary.”
They have toured locally and internationally and have a lot of recordings.
“Located within the Abbey of Montserrat… the origin of the Escolanía could be traced back to the monastic schools of the Middle Ages. The monks who founded the monastery (1025) hailed from the abbey of Ripoll, where there was a flourishing monastic school. The "Escolania" soon developed its own characteristic by enhancing religious services with its fine singing as early as the XIV century.”