Cathedrals are hard to come by on the plains of central Kansas, but choir directors Renae Schmidt Peters of Goessel and Bradley Kaufman of Hesston said few things compare to hearing the reverberation of voices ring through vaulted cathedral ceilings.
For that reason, the Hesston College Bel Canto Singers and the Goessel High School Elbiata Singers will perform at 5 p.m. on Jan. 27 in one of the few cathedrals on the Kansas prairie – St. Fidelis Church: The Cathedral on the Plains, in Victoria.
The combined choir will present a program of sacred and secular choral music with the theme “A Prairie Winter Sojourn.” The concert is free and open to the public, though a free-will offering will be collected to cover program costs and for the ongoing work of the church.
St. Fidelis Church is located less than 15 minutes east of Hays. The acoustics in the cathedral make the two-hour drive worthwhile for the choirs and the audience.
“This performance gives the choirs an opportunity to present a specific type of legato music within a sympathetic architecture,” Kauffman said. “Bringing the legato voice together with a generous, live acoustic can be a uniquely inspiring experience. It is an aesthetic that inspired medieval and renaissance to modern composers.”
St. Fidelis Church was nicknamed The Cathedral of the Plains by William Jennings Bryan in 1912. The Romanesque church completed in 1911 features many elements found in its European inspiration, including German windows and works of art, Austrian hand-carved stations of the cross and an Italian marble altar. In 1971, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as a “building of architectural significance,” and was named one of the Eight Wonders of Kansas in 2008. The church is open to the public every day of the year, with mass celebrated daily.
A charter bus leaving from Hesston at 1 p.m. Jan. 27 will travel to the concert for anyone wanting to attend. Passengers can purchase seats on the bus for $25 by calling Hesston College Alumni and Church Relations at (866) 437-7866, by Friday.