With its rich acoustic and fine organ, there is a long tradition of music within the Basilica. At present there are four choirs, working at different levels.
The Adult Choir rehearses each Thursday evening and sings every Sunday mass at 11 am. Anyone interested in joining should contact the Parish Office.
There is also our Resurrection Choir which sings at all funerals in the parish. Please contact the Parish office or click on the Volunteer link for details on how to join. There is also a team of ten cantors who provide musical leadership at Saturday and Sunday masses.
We have recently formed the Basilica of Our Lady Chamber Ensemble. This group consists of Strings, Brass, Woodwinds and Percussion. The Ensemble provides music on the third Sunday of each month through the choir season and rehearses on the Monday evening before. New members or anyone interested in joining is encouraged to see our Music Director.
The organ at the Basilica of Our Lady, Opus 796, was built in 1919 by Casavant Freres of Ste. Hyacinthe, Quebec, who were then, as now, the leading company of organ builders in Canada. The style used by the builders, at this point close to their retirement, was little changed from the style they had experienced in Europe forty years earlier. It is thus an organ of the late nineteenth century in concept, and as the only changes made over the past 80-plus years have been mechanical renovations, the sounds we hear today are genuine Anglo-French nineteenth century voices, as the instrument escaped the tonal "improvements" so popu1ar in the 1960s and 70s.
It is thus uniquely suited to the "symphonic" organ music written in the second half ofthe last century, which called for a rich blend of a range of sonorities, similar to an orchestra. The symphonic organ also has the ability to crescendo from a quiet, warm, lush sound to a thrilling climax, capped with blazing reeds, such as trumpets. As is clear from the stoplist, there is a preponderance of 8' stops. They are voiced so that the majority will combine together to provide a remarkably wide palette of tonal colours.
As the original pipes and console are intact - and indeed in regular use - the instrument was recognized by the Royal Canadian College of Organists as a Heritage Instrument, worthy of special care. During 2010 the Great Tromba 8' was rebuilt and a new racking system implemented to preserve the aging pipes. At the same time the Swell 8' Stopped Diapason was rebuilt as well. In 2012 the organ saw the rebuilding of the 16' Pedal Trombone chest and pipes, the rebuild ofthe Pedal 8' Cello and the complete rebuilding ofthe chest key action on all three manuals.
For the record, the organ has 44 ranks, distributed across 3 manuals and a 30 note pedalboard. The magnificent case, carved in light oak, and shaped to complement the rose window, contains about 2,900 pipes.