Two free concerts at Saint Joseph Abbey will help usher in the Christmas season

Musica da Camera

On Sunday, Nov. 27 at 3 p.m., Musica da Camera, together with the female voices of Vox Feminæ, presents “Cristo é Nato,” a performance of Mediterranean Christmas music from Italy and Spain. Featured are Italian Laude and Spanish Cantigas de Santa Maria, as well as a variety of instrumental compositions. The free performance takes place at the Saint Joseph Abbey Church, located at 75736 River Road in Covington.

Intended for secular devotions, the 13th century Laude were written in Italian, the language of the people, instead of the Latin of the clergy. The songs are distinguished by passionate poetry and great melodic beauty, often with complex, dance-like rhythms.

The Cantigas de Santa Maria are a marvelous fusion of courtly poetry and melodies that seem folk-like (a combination of Gregorian modes and Arabic rhythms). Compiled by Alfonso X, 13th century king of Castile, they were probably intended to be performed in Alfonso’s court. They are still enjoyed today and remain an important part of Spanish musical culture.

The instrumental pieces include Italian dances, arrangements of Laude and Cantigas, original compositions based on medieval songs, and lots of improvisation!   

New Orleans Musica da Camera is the oldest surviving early music organization in the country, founded in 1966 by director Milton G. Scheuermann, Jr. Researching and performing the music of the 10th through 16th centuries, the group is dedicated to making that music current and living for the listeners of the 21st century.

Call 504-895-1972 for more information on the Musica da Camera concert or visit

The Schola Cantorum of Saint Joseph Seminary College presents “Lessons & Carols” on Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m., also free and in the Abbey Church.  The Festival of Lessons and Carols, which has its origins in the 19th century, consists of readings from scripture and singing of sacred music.  The scriptural “Lessons” and traditional “Carols” will draw the listener deeper into the liturgical season of Advent and the mystery of the Incarnation. 

A major choral work presented this year will be “Salvation is Created” by Russian composer Pavel Tchesnokov.  The Schola Cantorum is under the direction of Ben Frederick and the accompaniment of Watson Copeland.

For more information on Lessons & Carols, contact Frederick at