Montserrat is a mountain near Barcelona where a Benedictine abbey, Santa Maria de Montserrat, which host the Virgin Montserrat sanctuary and which is identified by some with the location of the Holy Grail in Arthurian myth, is located. Since the 12th century, pilgrims have been drawn to the mountain to venerate the miraculous statue of the Black Madonna (‘la Moreneta’ in Catalan, the local language).
The Escolania de Montserrat, located in the abbey, is one of the oldest music schools in Europe. By the 13th century, a small group of boys were already serving in the Benedictine abbey and Sanctuary of Our Lady of Montserrat through the singing and playing of different musical instruments. L’Escolania choir school is a children’s choir of sopranos and countertenors. When the repertory requires it they are accompanied by the Montserrat Chapel Choir, formed by old choirboys and by the monks of the Ministry Chapel Choir. L’Escolania sings every day in the Basilica of Montserrat often to a great affluence of pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. With their song, the choirboys transmit the beautiful message of the gospels which transcends linguistic, cultural and even religious frontiers. The midday Salve has become, over the past decades, the most visited daily act of the Sanctuary. Since the end of the 60’s they have ventured further afield than the Basilica of Montserrat and given concerts in the villages and towns of Catalonia or around the world.
Some examples of performances of l’Escolania de Montserrat:
- Virolai – Hymn to Our Lady of Montserrat
- Bruckner’s Te Deum
- Soloist of the Escolania de Montserrat: Lluís Travesset Music: Arvo Pärt (b.1935)
- Handel’s Hallelujah
- Escolania de Montserrat and Sergio Dalma sing “Em dónes força” (“You Raise Me Up”) for the Catalan programme “La Marató de TV3″ to benefit biomedical research in the field of regeneration and transplantation of organs and tissues
http://www.cremallerademontserrat.com/ -the most comprehensive information site
http://www.montserratvisita.com/ -the official site
How to get there from Barcelona
Also near by and worth visiting: Saltpeter caves at Collbató
Video: © Dan Capatina