Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic Herald
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:38
Among the choir members practicing at Mother of Good Counsel Church, Milwaukee, on Wednesday, May 5 are Cathy Walcheske, left, a church member, and Sarah Schwab, a guest member of the choir. The choirs, along with a professional orchestra, will perform “Totally Yours,” on May 21. (Catholic Herald photos by Ernie Mastroianni)When Mark Konewko was looking for employment, he prayed to the Blessed Mother that she would lead him to a job in his field of music. At the same time, Mother of Good Counsel Parish was looking for a new music director. The minute Konewko walked through the doors, he was attracted by the openness of the church, the grounds and the light surrounding the church.
“It was later that I realized that it was the hand of Mary that led me to the church,” said Konewko, Mother of Good Counsel music director, “It has been a very interesting and inspiring move. I am very happy here.”
Working under the leadership of Salvatorian Fr. Robert Marsicek, Konewko wanted to perform a major musical endeavor to reflect the priest’s enthusiasm for the parish.
Friday, May 21, 7 p.m.
“Totally Yours” Concert
Mother of Good Counsel Parish
6924 W. Lisbon Ave.
The concert is free and open to the public.
Freewill donations will be accepted.
A reception will follow the concert.
All donations for the MGC Church Music
program can be sent to: 6924 W. Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53210
Make checks payable to MGC and in the memo line write, “church music program.”
“He exudes creativity, compassion and genuine excitement in the parish,” said Konewko. “His energy is what prompted me to even think of doing a concert at MGC.”
On Friday May 21, the Mother of Good Counsel adult choir, children’s choir, youth choir and bell choir will combine voices with a professional orchestra to perform “Totally Yours,” a concert dedicated to Konewko’s love of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The concert will begin with a sing-a-long of the Lourdes hymn, better known as “Immaculate Mary.” The choir will then perform “Totus Tuus,” an a cappella piece by Henryk Górecki. According to Konewko, the selection is an important piece for humanity.
“It is an outcry to Mary pleading intercession and committing humanity to give all to Mary,” he said. “In fact, the title of the concert, “Totally Yours” is a translation of the title of this piece.”
Górecki was born Dec. 6, 1933, in the village of Czernica in Poland’s coal mining belt. He is the premier internationally recognized figure in the Polish avant-garde.
“Totus Tuus’ was first performed on June 14, 1987, by the Choir of the Warsaw Academy of Catholic Theology at the High Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Victory Square, Warsaw,” Konewko said. “It was written in honor to His Holiness Pope John Paul II’s third pilgrimage to his homeland.”
Following “Totus Tuus,” the choir will perform “Benedicite,” composed by Andrew Carter. The piece is an 11-movement work inspired by the new Benedicite carvings in the restored south transept vault of York Minister.
Production of a concert such as ‘Totally Yours’ is expensive, but with the help of the choir, several fundraisers covered the cost of the rights to the music, as well as costs for the orchestra.
“The choir prepared a bread sale, a pasta dinner and solicited funds,” said Konewko. “They have raised significant money with some very generous donors from the parish.”
Aside from finances, melding voices from a 40-member adult choir, 30 children and youth, bell ringers and a 25-piece orchestra was challenging, but the overall talent of each of the groups and willingness to work together has produced a massive sound sure to astound the audience, he said.
“The talent that I am working with is unbounded,” said Konewko. “The children’s choir from the parish, along with some of the school children, sounds fabulous. Mrs. Regina Shaw (school principal) has graciously allowed me to work with the children in the school preparing them for the concert. They have a fresh sound – the mixed choir of boys and girls with the youth choir do justice to the three solo pieces that they sing. The bell choir can play just about anything. They are remarkably talented. The adult choir is dedicated to making good music; they work very hard and are so welcoming that the choir has doubled for this concert