The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this preeminence is that, as sacred song closely bound to the text, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.
—Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, No. 112
Because of the liturgical ministry it performs, the choir or the Capella Musica, or Schola Cantorum deserves particular mention. Its role has become something of yet greater importance and weight by reason of the norms of the Council concerning the liturgical renewal. Its duty is, in effect, to ensure the proper performance of the parts which belong to it, according to the different kinds of music sung, and to encourage the active participation of the faithful in the singing. Therefore: (a) There should be choirs, or Capellæ, or Scholæ Cantorum, especially in cathedrals and other major churches, in seminaries and religious houses of studies, and they should be carefully encouraged. (b) It would also be desirable for similar choirs to be set up in smaller churches.
—Musicam Sacram, Instruction on Sacred Music, No 19
The Second Vatican Council stated emphatically that choirs must be diligently promoted while ensuring that “the whole body of the faithful may be able to contribute that active participation which is rightly theirs. . . .” Choirs and ensembles…comprise persons drawn from the community who possess the requisite musical skills and a commitment to the established schedule of rehearsals and Liturgies. Thus, they are able to enrich the celebration by adding musical elements beyond the capabilities of the congregation alone.
—Sing to the Lord, No. 28
Responding to the call of the Second Vatican Council to “diligently promote” the ministry of the choir in the liturgy, the music ministry of St. John Chrysostom Roman Catholic Church works to promote full, conscious, and active congregational participation in worship by providing musical leadership for congregational music and by the performance of music drawn from the great choral tradition of the Catholic Church. In addition to our primary ministerial role at Sunday Worship, the music ministry provides an opportunity for members of the parish community to serve their community through music ministry and outreach opportunities, to grow in faith, to experience the great treasure of Sacred Music of the Catholic Church, and to increase their musical skills. Members of St. John Chrysostom Music Ministry give Christian witness to the Gospel to the local community primarily through music.
The St. John Chrysostom Schola Cantorum is the premier parish ensemble and regularly performs at the Sunday Evening 5:30 p.m. Mass. Its repertoire consists of chant (congregational, choral, and solo), including the Proper and Ordinary of the Mass; and polyphonic choral works drawn from the great patrimony of Medieval and Renaissance polyphony, with music of the Baroque and Classical eras, as well as occasional music from other periods, well-represented. The core quartet of staff singers is regularly expanded for special occasions, including Sacramental Masses (e.g., Confirmation) and major feasts, including the Paschal Triduum, Christmas, Epiphany, Pentecost, and Christ the King.
The Cappella Musica of St. John Chrysostom Church is the largest parish ensemble and consists of professional singers and instrumentalists, usually around twelve to sixteen in number. This ensemble performs major choral works at several liturgies during the year, including the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ Mass in honor of St. Josemaría Escrivà in June, a Requiem Mass on All Souls’ Day in memory of the deceased of the parish (featuring Requiem Masses by Fauré, Duruflé, Mozart, and others), at Christmas (at the Vigil Mass and at Midnight Mass), during the Paschal Triduum, and on Christ the King (featuring the performance of a major Mass setting; in 2018, they will perform Mozart’s Coronation Mass).
Years in preparation and formed in early 2017, the Coriolan Virtuosi, St. John Chrysostom’s resident chamber orchestra, serves the parish and surrounding communities through educational outreach programs to underprivileged schools, both private and public; performances at hospices, retirement homes, and senior centers; as well as to the general public in the local community and at locations throughout the Greater Los Angeles Area. Inspired by the mission of Antonio Vivaldi’s renowned orchestra of the Hospidale della Pietà, in seventeenth-century Venice, the Coriolan Virtuosi , to bring the art and elegance of the music of the Italian Baroque, J.S. Bach, Teleman and Handel to a wider audience, especially to those that might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience the beauty of this repertoire. Members of the Coriolan Virtuosi have performed in the past and present with the LA Phil, LA Chamb orch, La opera orchestra, Pasadena Symphony, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the LA Mozart Orchestra, the Santa Barbara Symphony, the Santa Barbara Opera Orchestra; most members are also studio musicians in the Los Angeles area.
The St. John Chrysostom 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Spanish Choirs sing at weekly Sunday Masses and sing together on more solemn occasions such as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Christmas, and the Paschal Triduum. At the core of their repertoire is chant (Gregorian, Mozarabic, and occasionally other kinds) and traditional devotional music from the modern Ibero-American Repertoire. In addition, the Music of the Spanish Missions of California is also represented, along with music from Renaissance, Baroque, and Classical Mexico and Spain. The groups regularly sing in Latin and Spanish.
The Saturday Evening 5:00 p.m. English Mass regularly features Gregorian chant, traditional hymnody accompanied on the organ, and choral and solo selections from the classical repertoire. On certain Feasts and Solemnities, the cantor and soloist may be joined by a trumpet, cello, or violin. The Sunday Morning 8:30 a.m. English Mass features traditional hymnody led by a cantor and accompanied on organ. The Sunday Morning 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. Spanish Masses feature traditional Spanish devotional songs and hymns led by a cantor and accompanied on organ.
MUSIC DEPARTMENT STAFF
Director of Music
Director, St. John Chrysostom Schola Cantorum
Director, Cappella Musica of St. John Chrysostom
Artistic Director, Coriolan Virtuosi
Fr. Theodore Ley, SM
Director, Visiting choir, The Schola Cantorum of the Pacific
Spanish Choir Director, 2:30 p.m. Mass
Assistant Director, 1:00 PM Spanish Choir
Elliot Z. Levine
About the Directors
Steven Ottományi, Director of Music
Conductor, composer, organist, and tenor has been involved in pastoral music since 1981, in pastoral music leadership since 1991, as an accompanist since 1994, and a choir director since 1996. He studied choral conducting with John Alexander, Frank Brownstead, and with William Belan and Donald Brinegar. He has studied organ with Jelil Romano, former organist at St. Vibiana’s Cathedral in Los Angeles, and Neil Stipp, University Organist at Whittier College. He studied voice with Donald Brinegar and with Janet Smith and Al Brightbill, both of California State University, Fullerton, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music History and Theory with a double minor in Business Administration and German in May 2010. His senior thesis, completed under the direction of Dr. Katherine Powers, produced a scholarly edition of a collection of spiritual madrigals composed by Giammateo di Asola, a sixteenth-century Roman composer. A lyric tenor, he has performed under the direction of noted conductors Donald Brinegar, William Belan, John Alexander, Frank Brownstead, Paul Salamunovich, Joseph Jennings, and Keith Lockhart while touring with the Boston Pops Orchestra.
In Fall 2018 he will graduate with a Master of Arts in Musicology from the Bob Cole Conservatory at California State University, Long Beach. In 2019 he will graduate with a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from California State University, Long Beach. He has read papers at American Musicological Society chapter meetings, conferences of the California Mission Studies Association and the California Mission Foundation, and the Society for American Music. He has studied liturgical composition and arranging at Mount St. Mary’s College under the guidance of Christopher Walker. His sacred choral and liturgical music is published by Paraclete Press, an ecumenical Christian publisher; OCP Publications, the largest Catholic publisher in the United States; and Cantica Nova Publications, a publisher of traditional choral music; he has also contributed to Pastoral Music, Journal of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
In 2006 he won a national hymn competition for the centennial anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity co-sponsored by NPM and the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement. His hymns have been sung by English-language congregations in many denominations around the world. An active composer and arranger, Mr. Ottományi has been commissioned to write arrangements and compose new music by parishes and cathedrals around the country. Among his most notable commissions was a hymn concertato for the 2008 Orange County Pueri Cantores Convention and a collaboration with M.D. Ridge for a setting of the new translation of the Mass commissioned by Campus Ministry of Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY. He and Ridge collaborated until her death in 2017.
In 2010, he founded Cantate Domino of Southern California, an organization that promotes awareness of the work of local sacred music composers. The first in a series of annual concerts, directed by him and hosted by Christopher Walker took place in Fall 2011, and has now become an annual event. In 2012, he founded the California Mission Schola and Sinfonia to revive the music of the California Missions. The first concert was held at Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in June of 2012. In May of 2013, he provided performance editions of music of from the California Missions and program notes for Pueri Cantores, San Gabriel Valley.
He was the first Associate Director of Liturgy and Spanish and Bilingual Mass cantor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles, where he cantored the first public Masses and served as the first regular cantor the Spanish Mass. He also coordinated and planned parish and archdiocesan liturgies. He has served as director of Music and Liturgy as well as organist for a number of parishes in Southern California.
Steven is an active member of the American Musicological Society, Southwest Chapter; the California Mission Studies Association; the Society for American Music; the American Guild of Organists, Los Angeles Chapter; the Southern California Liturgical Composers’ Forum; and the National Liturgical Composers Forum in St. Louis, Missouri.
Kevan Torfeh, Artistic Director, Coriolan Virtuosi
Kevan Torfeh is a professional cellist and teacher based primarily in Southern California. His musical activities include playing recording sessions, concerts, and teaching. Mr. Torfeh served as Principal and Solo Cellist for the L.A. Mozart Orchestra for fourteen seasons, Guest Principal Cellist with the South Coast Symphony and the Capistrano Valley Symphony for three seasons, Guest Principal Cellist with the Mozart Chamber Orchestra in Irvine for two seasons, and as Associate Principal with the Temianka Virtuosi for five seasons, touring with the same group under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management. He has performed as the principal cellist of the Brentwood Symphony and the Andrea Morricone Orchestra and was assistant principal cellist with the Dream Orchestra. Mr. Torfeh performed and recorded with the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra for seventeen years. He has also performed with the New West Symphony and the California Philharmonic.
Mr. Torfeh’s studies were completed at U.S.C., at L’Accademia Chigiana in Siena, in London with William Pleeth, and at the Hochschule Mozarteum in Salzburg. Mr. Torfeh taught general and instrumental music for two years at the Wildwood School in West L.A., and from 2004 to present he has served as adjunct professor of cello in the applied music program at Santa Monica College. Mr. Torfeh also teaches cello privately in Los Angeles. Many of his students have gone on to professional careers.
His recent recording credits include Zootopia, Jurassic World, Inside Out, Miracles from Heaven, Tomorrowland, Star Trek Into Darkness, Ride Along 2, Frozen, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Toy Story That Time Forgot, MoAnna, Rogue One–a Star Wars Story, Justice League, Agent Carter, Revolution, Fringe, Revolution, Intelligence, X Factor and All the Way (HBO Movie of the Week with Bryan Cranston and Anthony Mackie). In the last few years, Mr. Torfeh has also recorded on albums of John Legend/Common, Lady Gaga, Idina Menzel, Neil Diamond, Elvis Costello, and Mari Nobre.
Mr. Torfeh is a regular guest performer at St. John Chrysostom, St. Lawrence the Martyr, St. Maximilian Kolbe, and St. Monica Catholic churches.
Abbot & Sieker Opus 93 has served the parish since 1986. The organ has three divisions, controlled by a two manual and pedal console in the center of the choir loft at the back of the church. The organ has 24 ranks and 1442 pipes on slider chests with electric pull-downs and stop action. The pipes reside in two chambers recessed into the slightly canted rear wall, with minimal grills covering the openings. The tops of each chamber are angled at 45 degrees to aid sound projection. Facing the back of the church, the Swell division is in the left chamber and the Great and the independent Pedal stops are in the right chamber. In spite of the depth of the chambers, projection is excellent into the nave thanks to extremely favorable conditions within the chamber (the walls of which are solid concrete several feet thick) and due to the excellent acoustic of the nave, perhaps the best in the Archdiocese. Contributing to the 6.8 seconds of reverberation time are several decorative elements: the travertine wainscoting on all walls one fourth the way up to the ceiling; the sealed cement walls above; the coffered, beautifully decorated cement ceiling rising sixty-eight feet above the floor of the nave; and the narrowness of the stained glass windows. Additionally, the solid cement floor is covered with terrazzo, except for the Altar platform and Sanctuary floor, which is covered with Calacatta Gold marble.
Abbot & Sieker Opus 93, 1986
Dolce 8 (Swell)
Dolce 4 (ext. Swell)
Dolce Celeste 8 (TC)
Harmonic Flute 4
Resultant 32 (Subbass 16 + Gedeckt 16)
Gedeckt 16 (Great)
Gedeckt 8 (Swell)
Principal 4 (ext.)
Trumpet 16 (ext. Great)