Cantores in Ecclesia is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony in liturgical context within the Latin Mass of the Catholic Church.
Comprised of both an adult and youth choir, Cantores in Ecclesia was first established in 1983. It began singing at St. Patrick's Church in 1985 through an arrangement with its pastor, Fr. Frank Knusel, and Bishop Paul Waldschmidt of the Archdiocese of Portland. The choir's first sung Mass at the historic NW Portland Church was the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, for which it sang William Byrd's Mass for Five Voices and selections from his Gradualia (1605). For the next 17 years, Cantores in Ecclesia was synonymous with St. Patrick's and the beautiful plainsong, polyphonic Masses, and motets heard each week at its Solemn Latin Vigil Mass. In September of 2002, the choir established its independence as a nonprofit organization but its mission remained constant: to restore the rich treasury of chant and sacred polyphony to Catholic liturgy. After leaving St. Patrick's in 2002, the choir provided music for the Latin liturgy at Immaculate Heart Church for several years. From the first Sunday of Advent, 2007 to 2016, it began providing music for the parish of St. Stephen’s Church. The choir is now in residence at Holy Rosary parish in NE Portland where it currently provides music once a month and for feast days. It also regularly sings for mass at St. Agatha's Catholic Church in SE Portland.
In addition to singing liturgically, Cantores in Ecclesia has toured widely at home and abroad, with performances throughout Mexico, Spain, France, England and Italy, where it won gold medals in an international competition. The choir also presents several sacred concerts each year, has released three recordings to date, and has often been featured in the press, with articles in BBC Music Magazine, Brainstorm, Early Music America and Oregon ArtsWatch.
One of the highlights of the choir’s commitment to musical excellence is the annual William Byrd Festival held each August, which has brought guest conductors, lecturers and musicians to Portland for nearly three weeks of liturgical services, concerts, organ recitals, and lectures for the past 25 years.
But the principal service of Cantores in Ecclesia has been and will remain the task of combining music and liturgy. At its heart will always be the ancient sung prayer of Gregorian chant, surrounded and supported by the sacred music of great masters such as Palestrina, Victoria, and Byrd.