Joan Maloney (bottom left) and Michael Maloney (top right) prepare for their May 29 concert at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Simcoe, Ont., with accompanist Linda Bonadeo-Boll (bottom right) and reader Michael Fidler (top left).

Couple’s musical celebration illustrates the life of Christ

By  Luc Rinaldi, Catholic Register Special
  • May 18, 2011

If he who sings prays twice, Joan and Michael Maloney have four lifetimes of prayer between them.

The two singers are currently preparing for Behold the Man!, a musical celebration of the rosary, which premieres on May 29 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Simcoe, Ont. The repertoire, entirely composed by Joan Maloney, illustrates the life of Jesus through the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries.

“I’ve always wanted to write a song cycle,” said Joan, who has performed professionally, composed and taught music her whole life. “And then one day at Mass, I was looking at the statue of the Blessed Virgin and it came to me that what I’d really like to do is write a song cycle honouring her and our Lord, and so I decided to write it on the rosary.”

The result was Behold the Man!, a 15-song program that features Joan, a soprano, husband Michael, a tenor, as well as pianist Linda Bonadeo-Boll and reader Michael Fidler.

The four are all lectors or musicians at St. Mary’s.

The concert will begin with a brief history of the rosary, read by Fidler, who will also explain the luminous mysteries, added to the rosary in 2002 by Pope John Paul II but not included in the concert. The songs, which are accompanied by Fidler’s readings and reflections, are divided into groups of five that correspond to the mysteries.

Though Behold the Man! is a new experience for the Maloneys, they both share a long and diverse history of performing arts. Together with accompanist Bonadeo-Boll, the couple presented Songs and Poetry of Faith Across the Centuries, a 2006 concert that was televised by Salt + Light Television and EWTN.

Michael taught theatre arts for 20 years at Seneca College, while Joan taught singing in Toronto, conducted vocal therapy with shy and troubled children and is the author of several children’s and singing books, including a widely used technical book called Singing for the Joy of It. Both have appeared on stage, radio and television.

“I can never remember not loving music so passionately,” said Joan. “Really, for most of my life, what I’ve wanted to do is spread the joy of singing… and also give (people) a sense of their own self-expression.”

Behold the Man! is one way of sharing this love of music, while another is Pierswell Press, the press company the Maloneys own and operate together. All of Joan’s books are available through the company, which is rooted in optimism, hope, as well as respect and reverence for all living things.

For the Maloneys, the Catholic faith and their creative pursuits are not separate parts of their lives — they are intertwined.

“To me, this is an instance of constantly trying to find ways of using our talents for the service of God,” said Michael, who adds that, especially because they don’t have children, “We feel we’re dedicating ourselves to trying to serve our Lord in whatever way we can.”

Based on the reception of the concert, the four may perform the concert again at other parishes, and perhaps add five more songs about the luminous mysteries.

Behold the Man! premieres at 7 p.m. May 29 at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Simcoe, Ont. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted and given to St. Vincent’s Soup Kitchen in Simcoe.

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