One of the most impressive and innovative musicians in all of Canada is BC resident Paula DeWit.
Paula is well known in Vancouver and the Fraser Valley for the popular concerts and sacred music events she has coordinated over the years, some of the most memorable in the recent history of Holy Rosary Cathedral in Vancouver.
Paula is an extremely capable musician, conductor, artist and director, directing both choirs and orchestras with her professional conducting credentials – a rare combination in today’s music world.
She has authoritative knowledge in historically informed baroque orchestral performance and specializes in a cappella polyphonic works.
With her innate sense of musicality, she navigates with apparent ease through difficult pieces of Baroque and Renaissance music, bringing the energy and vitality of this incredible music to the consciousness of countless listeners.
She has excelled with the support and encouragement of the local community and has made a tremendous contribution to the lives of many through her music and mentorship.
This mentorship has provided many young musicians and artists with the opportunity to begin a career in professional music while learning the highest caliber of music with concerts held throughout the Lower Mainland.
Countless people across Canada and beyond have heard his music at concerts, weddings, fundraisers, special masses and all sorts of related events.
Today Paula is busy conducting both the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra, a professional touring orchestra and a non-profit company she co-founded in 1999 and the Belle Voci A cappella Ensemble, a vocal ensemble she also founded in 2009.
Throughout her musical career, Paula has been committed to the pursuit of beauty through the creation of beautiful classical music, dedicated to inspiring all who listen to the talented singers and instrumentalists under her watchful guidance.
The role of sacred music
Music itself, when it is sacred song, becomes a form of evangelism introducing listeners to the inner world of spiritual experience. It is well suited to the devotion of the heart, suitable for edifying the faithful.
While the divorce of culture from its spiritual foundations is the disease these days, disease is not inevitable or incurable and is easily treated with the repertoire of sacred music.
Music plays an important role in leading listeners to deeper levels of human consciousness that have not been lost, but in most cases simply obscured by excessive layers of other activities, distractions, or negative emotions.
As people become more and more aware that something is missing in today’s secular culture, although they are still far from a positive religious belief, they may still possess great intellectual curiosity about religion and so sacred music can become the seed of something more.
For Catholics, sacred music is the highest form of art, a truth articulated by the bishops of the world at the Second Vatican Council, in accordance with the norms and precepts of ecclesiastical tradition and discipline:
“The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of immeasurable value, greater even than that of any other art…the treasure of sacred music must be preserved and nurtured with the greatest care. Choirs should be promoted diligently. (cf. Vatican IICS, 112, 114).
Paula conducted monumental Catholic masterpieces such as Mozart Requiemby Vivaldi Gloriaby Handel Messiahby Handel Says Dominusby Palestrina Sicut Cervusas well as the iconic and ethereal Miserere d’Allegri and even modern pieces like Barber’s Agnus Dei.
Lent Bach Series
This year, in the wake of recovering from COVID-19, Paula has put together an enviable Lenten Bach Series under her direction as a reflective evening of penitential music.
Belle Voci and the Chilliwack Symphony Baroque Ensemble are hosting an evening of pieces of penance and reflection on Lent in three separate parishes from March 17-19.
The Lenten Bach series takes its name from the German-born musician and composer of the late Baroque period, who is remembered as one of the greatest composers in the history of Western music.
The concert will include popular works by Bach, as well as additional hymns by other famous composers such as de Victoria, Purcell, Byrd, Monteverdi, Handel, etc.
The concert provides a rare opportunity to hear these hymns sung in their original setting, played inside a church for devotional purposes.
Residents of Vancouver will have the chance to catch a concert at Holy Rosary Cathedral downtown while those in the Fraser Valley won’t need to travel to Vancouver to hear the same concert.
The first concert will take place at Saint-Rosaire Cathedral on Thursday March 17 at 7:30 p.m.
The second concert will take place at Our Lady of the Assumption, Port Coquitlam, on Friday, March 18 at 7:30 p.m.
The third will be at St. James, Abbotsford on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 p.m.
These events play an immense role in highlighting the task of the current generation of Christians to reclaim the lost channel of sacred music and restore it as a means of accessing spiritual realities.
To avoid disappointment, order your tickets early. Tickets can be purchased online at chilliwacksymphony.com.
Sacred music is thus preserved
Sacred music speaks to the soul in all cultures as people naturally seek the transcendental.
In almost all rites, whether Jewish, pagan or Christian, the elements of public worship have been sacrifice, prayer, ceremonies, song and instrumental music.
In Catholic worship, these arts constitute an organic whole, in which music forms an immeasurable form of tailor-made art.
Meanwhile, all true religious music is exalted prayer, an effective expression of religious sentiment.
It is right that the choirs, in the worship of the only true God, give him all that is most sublime and most beautiful. The tribute is expressed not only in words, but also in a combination of sweet sounds.
This has been the case since the foundation of the world, with man’s natural devotional instinct prompting him to honor the deity through song, the formation of choirs, and singing as a means of artistic devotion in the service of divine worship.
It is rare today to hear a choir of this high level of professional competence. Paula leads the way with her orchestra and choir. Readers are encouraged to attend one of the concerts and experience an evening of culture, art and beauty at a higher level.