STJ 500

June 17, 2014 14:30 ET

Bay Area Musicians Play Key Role in Fifth Centenary Celebration, Unifying Faithful Through Spirituality, Technology and Music

RENO, NV--(Marketwired - Jun 17, 2014) - This year marks the 500th year since the birth of Saint Teresa of Avila -- reformer of the Discalced Carmelite Order, Roman Catholic saint and first woman Doctor of the Church -- with the 500th anniversary of her birth on March 28, 2015. In commemoration of this upcoming fifth centenary, the Discalced Carmelites are having a year of celebrations in her honor throughout the world.

The Discalced Carmelite family of the western United States is inviting the public to attend the first, an early celebration called, "The Creative Spiritual Genius of St. Teresa of Avila Today," taking place in San Jose, Calif., August 21 through 23.

Notable participants in the event reside in the San Jose area, including:

Cellist Peter Gelfand, who has served as Principal Cellist with Symphony Silicon Valley since its inaugural season in 2003. He served in that same capacity with the former San Jose Symphony from 1985 through that orchestra's final season in 2002. During his first three seasons in San Jose, he divided his time equally between the San Jose Symphony and the renowned St. Louis Symphony, an orchestra with which he toured and recorded extensively. From 1988 through the 1998 season, he also served as the Principal Cellist with the Monterey County Symphony.

Classical Guitarist Matthew Fish has performed throughout California, playing at such venues as the Freight and Salvage in Berkeley, the Davis Arts Center, CSU East Bay, CSU Chico, the San Francisco Scottish Rite Center and the Firehouse Arts Center, where he played with the Pacific Masterworks Chorus. He was a featured artist in the Classical Guitar Project in Chico and earned himself a spot in the "Evening Showcase Concert" at the 2012 Guitar Foundation of America's Regional Symposium in San Francisco.

Participants from the Discalced Carmelite Friars of Mount Saint Joseph Monastery, San Jose.

The Carmelite Nuns of Santa Clara, participating in spirit and prayer.

The Auxiliary Bishop of San Jose, Thomas Anthony Daly, who will celebrate a Mass in honor of Saint Teresa's 500th anniversary of birth at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Joseph on Saturday, August 23.

Father Gerald Werner O.C.D., Superior of the Oakville Carmelite Monastery, a member of the planning committee, who is providing critical insights into the life and teachings of Saint Teresa for the PBS documentary (with planned nation-wide distribution) capturing the STJ500 celebration. He is a graduate of two area schools -- St. Francis High School in Mountain View and Santa Clara University.

Planning Committee Members from the Bay Area: Cherry Caparas, OCDS and Theresa Thomas, OCDS

This three-day celebration will feature presentations by each branch of the Discalced Carmelite Order (Nuns, Friars, Seculars, Affiliates), a banquet, a special Eucharistic celebration and three world premieres: A concert, which will include an opera scene composed and performed by world-renowned Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Dolora Zajick; and two virtual choirs comprised of members of the Discalced Carmelite Order from around the world.

Virtual Choir
A virtual choir is an assemblage of voices from around the world compiled into a single choir. Through means of technology, barriers between continents dissolve as Discalced Carmelite Nuns and Friars from their own monasteries, and Secular Carmelites from their homes, submit an audio/video recording of themselves singing their part in a "virtual" choir. Carmelites from 23 countries have submitted more than 250 vocal tracks as part of the Carmelite virtual choirs.

Scott Haines, the producer of the virtual choir sensation Lux Aurumque (which has received more than four million YouTube views since its 2010 premiere), will produce the two virtual choirs of Carmelites: Nada Te Turbe, a Spanish piece sung by contemplative Discalced Carmelite Nuns world-wide, and Salve Regina, with lyrics in Latin sung by the nuns, friars and seculars.

Both pieces were composed by Sister Claire Sokol, OCD -- a member of Carmel of Reno and one of the moving forces behind the San Jose celebration.

Work has begun on a documentary produced by KNPB Channel 5 Public Broadcasting, the PBS Member Station in Reno, Nevada. The program, scheduled to air in late 2014, will capture the planning process, the production of the virtual choirs and the San Jose celebration itself, with interviews of key players including Haines, Sister Claire Sokol, Father Gerald Werner and other participants. KNPB plans to offer the program for national distribution.

"This three-day event will provide a variety of doorways through which St. Teresa can be encountered today," said Cherry Caparas, a member of the secular Order of Carmelites and the coordinator of the San Jose celebration. "We hope that this celebration, which will include music, poetry, drama and the visual arts as well as prayer, will act as a conduit for each participant's unique encounter with St. Teresa, whose spirit is still very much alive after 500 years!" 

For further information, and to register for the San Jose event, please visit

About Saint Teresa of Avila

Saint Teresa of Avila -- also known as Saint Teresa of Jesus -- was the reformer of the Discalced Carmelite Order, a mystic, a writer and the first woman Doctor of the Church. She is widely regarded as a friend to all who seek God in Spirit and Truth. During the dramatic years of her activity in founding 156 monasteries of nuns throughout Spain, Teresa resolved innumerable intercommunity, financial, legal and spiritual problems -- all while dealing with her own poor health. After 20 years of intense service to the Church, she died at the age of 67 -- though her teachings, wit and wisdom have transcended the centuries.

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