On its silver jubilee, Perosi Choir to regale audiences with works of Mozart, Allegri, and Mendelssohn

Marco Carvalho & Jasmine Yiu

It will be a double celebration. The Perosi Choir, one of Macau’s most acclaimed choral ensembles, will celebrate its first quarter of a century in style with two special concerts – one on the weekend and the other on December 3rd. Both performances will have free admission and will take place at Saint Dominic’s Church on Sunday, and at Yuet Wah College early next month.

The choir’s silver anniversary is not the only solemn occasion that the recitals aim to celebrate. The concerts – which will feature choral works by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gregorio Allegri and Felix Mendelssohn – will also commemorate the 150th birth anniversary of Lorenzo Perosi, the Italian composer who lends his name to the choral ensemble. Born on December 21st, 1872, in the city of Tortona, not very far from Milan, Perosi followed an ecclesiastical career and gained fame as the musical director of the Sistine Chapel.

The Italian composer created some of Father Luis Ruiz’s favourite sacred music compositions. When the Spanish priest, who founded Caritas Macau in 1951, arrived in the former Portuguese colony soon after the end of the Pacific War, he helped local music enthusiasts to get acquainted with Perosi’s creations. His compositions were among the first that the choir performed in concert 25 years ago. “Our second concert, back in 1997, was dedicated to Father Luis Ruiz Suarez and Father Luigi Minella, who made a great contribution to Macau. We always knew that Father Luis Ruiz was very fond of Father Perosi’s music. That was one of the reasons why we decided to perform some of Perosi’s compositions,” Lai I Meng told O Clarim. Mr. Meng, who is almost 80 years old, has been a part of the group since its inception. Despite his age, he remains one of the choir’s most active members.

Having performed multiple times outside Macau and having toured several Italian cities in the summer of 2015, the Perosi Choir is, at 25, one of Macau’s most acclaimed cultural ambassadors. The first few years, nevertheless, were not easy, choir director Young Lam says.

“In the early days, there were many difficulties, particularly in terms of funding and a venue for practice. Thanks to Father Tadeu Tang Si Yan, who was back then the parish priest at Saint Lawrence’s Church, we were allowed to use the parish facilities, both to rehearse and to perform our first few concerts,” Young Lam recalls.

“We would also like to thank the vicar, Father Pedro Chung, and Sister Victoria Lau, who allowed us to use the Pastoral Centre near the Red Market, where we organized our rehearsals and practice sessions for over 10 years,” the choir’s director adds.

In addition to choral works composed by some of the greatest composers that have ever lived, the Perosi Choir usually includes symphonies and compositions by local composers such as Father Áureo Castro, Father Wilhelm Schmid, Monsignor André Ngan, Lancelote Rodrigues, and Domingos Lam.

Heavily influenced by sacred and religious music, the Perosi Choir is independent from the local Catholic Church and is not under the direct supervision of the Diocese of Macau.