Under the direction of Carol Menke, since 1996 the St. Cecilia Choir has supported our worship at the 11:15 Eucharist, offering anthems, special service music and supporting congregational singing. In addition, the choir has offered one or two concerts each year, joining with the choral ensemble Cantiamo Sonoma, performing with orchestra and soloists.
There is now a traditional concert on Good Friday at which major choral works have been performed, including Haydn masses, Bach Cantatas and works by Mozart, Cherubini, Fauré, Vaughan Williams, Rutter, and more. Occasionally there have been guest conductors for the special concerts, including Conductor Laureate of the Santa Rosa Symphony, Corrick Brown, and the late J. Karla Lemon.
The St. Cecilia Choir puts on an annual Cabaret on the first Sunday in November (one of the ways in which we fund the orchestra for our annual Good Friday Concert). This is an evening where our choir members can “let their hair down” and switch from choral to solos and small ensembles. Music from the jazz and musical theater repertoire are performed to a sell-out crowd of happy audience members drinking wine and partaking of savory and sweet culinary delights prepared by the members of the St. Cecilia Choir.
On any given Sunday during the year we offer music from the more traditional choral masters such as Palestrina, William Byrd, J.S. Bach, G.F. Händel, Schubert, Brahms, etc. to modern composers Chilcott, Rutter, Moses Hogan, and more. We welcome singers with some choral experience to join our choral “family” and experience the worship service in a whole new way!
These concerts are major musical events for the community, drawing standing-room only crowds. As one member enthuses: “The St. Cecilia Choir feeds my soul and enables me to sing with contemplation and jubilation for the spirit in our lives. It gives my soul a voice!”
Good Friday Concert Rehearsal – 2015
About Director, Carol Menke
Lyric soprano Carol Menke began her musical studies at the piano with her mother at age five, and at age eight started flute lessons. She entered college with aspirations of a career as a flautist. However, participation in a voice class led to recognition of her superb vocal gifts. Following graduation from CSU, attendance at the Franz Schubert Institute in Baden bei Wien, Austria, confirmed her passion for the Art Song genre. The young singer was heard in performance many times at the Schuberthaus in Vienna during this period of study with Elly Ameling, Jörg Demus and Norman Shelter. Miss Menke later completed her Master’s Degree in Vocal Performance. Her performances have won the accolades of music critics and orchestral conductors who have commented on her “silvery bright…. illuminating voice” and “appealing sweetness of tone.” Upon hearing her perform one of his newly composed chamber works, the renowned composer Alan Hovhaness acknowledged and praised her “perfect musicianship.” Carol maintains a full schedule as teacher and choral conductor in addition to fulfilling her illustrious solo engagements. At Santa Rosa Junior College she teaches voice and music theory classes. The Santa Rosa Children’s Chorus has thrived and achieved high praise during Miss Menke’s tenure as Artistic Director. Her leadership of the choir at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa as well as Cantiamo Sonoma, a distinguished chamber choral ensemble, has served to enrich the musical environment of the area.