The Basilica Choir will perform a Mother’s Day concert with hymns and other that pay tribute to the Virgin Mary on Sunday, May 14. (Submitted photo)
The Basilica of St. Josaphat will present a Mother’s Day concert celebrating the great hymns, motets and songs that pay tribute to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The event — at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 14 — will feature the Basilica Choir with the basilica grand pipe organ, the basilica brass, timpani and percussion. Attendees can sing along and experience the hymns from “Immaculate Mary” to “Hail Holy Queen” and the gorgeous settings of “Ave Maria” spanning throughout the centuries.
Directed by Lee Gwozdz, Director of Sacred Music at the basilica, the concert will feature a special song paying tribute to all mothers in attendance.
Gwozdz has conducted many papal Masses and events for then-pope St. John Paul II in San Antonio, Denver and Rome. He is known and respected throughout the United States for his work in children’s choirs and for building one of the top cathedral music ministries in the country. He received the “Musician of the Year” award from more than 10,000 peers of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians.
A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Gwozdz is the son of the late Dr. Feliks and Eugenia Gwozdz, both survivors of Nazi concentration camps. He and his family are involved in a film project that will share the love of their parents during the war, entitled “Heart of Sole — A Holocaust Story of Music, Survival and Love.”
This will be the fourth concert featuring the Basilica Choir since Gwozdz became the director in July 2020. He hopes many families will bring their mothers and grandmothers to this special concert.
“There is such a beautiful tie to our Blessed Virgin Mary and mothers, especially when it comes to music dedicated to Our Lady. I hope that this can be such a unique gift to all our mothers in the community to be treated to a wealth of great music in the resounding and beautiful space of our basilica,” he said. “All of us who have mothers who are living try each year to honor them on this special day. This will be another unique option to just taking them out to a meal.”
The mixed choir consists of 21 singers, who are all members of the Basilica. Because the Basilica could only afford one rehearsal with them, Gwozdz prays it will be enough to bring both the choirs and musicians in sync to perform beautifully together.
The concert will run approximately 70 minutes with no intermission and will take place in the main upper church of the Basilica, 2333 S. Sixth St., Milwaukee.
“The Basilica Choir will sing from the altar for the first part of the concert, then sing the second half from the rear galleries along with the grand pipe organ, brass, timpani and percussion,” Gwozdz said. “The concert will feature gorgeous settings of the ‘Ave Maria’ text spanning the centuries. From Schubert’s beloved ‘Ave Maria’ to the romantic setting of Franz Biebl’s ‘Ave Maria.’ Another popular Marian prayer is that of ‘The Magnificat,’ in which we will present two contrasting settings to the audience.”
Gwozdz is excited about the upcoming performance and said he has received many compliments from previous performances.
“Audiences that have attended our concerts absolutely love the opportunity to sing in the resounding acoustics of the Basilica from the pews. We have done that at all our concerts, especially our Christmas concert,” he said. “This concert will be no different — it will be like singing Christmas carols in May but will feature such beloved Marian hymns as ‘Immaculate Mary,’ ‘Hail Holy Queen,’ ‘Holy is His Name’ and the Polish Marian prayer ‘Serdeczna Matko.’”
To purchase general admission seating (Adults $20/Students $10), visit https://www.wesharegiving.org/App/Form/d6727e58-0d75-4bfa-93a2-d2063146a85b .
For premier seating, consider becoming a member of the St. Cecilia Guild of Basilica Concert Supporters and have access to priority reserved premier seating in the front center of the Basilica up until 10 minutes before the concert starting time. Visit this link to become a member: https://www.wesharegiving.org/App/Form/2e0034c9-4ae4-43b8-aea4-4523e3a542e6 .
Tickets are also available for purchase at the Basilica Gift Shop (Monday through Saturday: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sundays: 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.).