The Archdiocese of Edmonton is planning to establish a professional cathedral choir and an Academy of Sacred Music to promote noble liturgical music among the faithful.
With that purpose, Archbishop Richard Smith has appointed freelance singer Roderick Bryce as director of music for St. Joseph's Basilica.
Bryce hails from Edinburgh, Scotland, where he has served as baritone, teacher, vocal coach, adjudicator and choral director.
In July, he and his wife Juliet and their two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Amelia moved from Edinburgh to Stettler, where Juliet is a medical doctor.
Since then Bryce has been singing with the professional choirs Pro Coro Canada in Edmonton and Luminous Voices in Calgary.
Bryce met with the archbishop Nov. 26 to discuss his vision for the initiative, which came as a culmination and natural extension of Smith's Nothing More Beautiful series.
"I have been asked to start a proper choral program for liturgical music at the basilica, which is great," Bryce said in an interview.
The choir is expected to sing during Masses and at special events at the basilica.
One of its roles is "to support the singing of the congregation."
The archdiocese will soon begin advertising a number of positions for singers initially at the basilica to form the choir. The goal is to have some sort of a choir for midnight Mass at Christmas this year.
Bryce will be the choir conductor and the overall director of music both for the basilica and the archdiocese.
"I hope to have workshops to help parish musicians with their role in their own churches," he explained.
"We hope to help priests and parish musicians to improve the musical provision and help them if they need any help in that."
Bryce has also been asked to assist with music at St. Joseph Seminary and "to help the seminarians in the knowledge of sacred music."
He plans to hold workshops with the seminarians to introduce them to the rich heritage of Catholic music.
"There is an enormous heritage, very, very rich, of Gregorian chants and sacred polyphony which is seldom (played) here in Canada so this is quite a unique opportunity in this part of the world.
"We have to bring this music to its absolute correct function at Mass."
Bryce started off as a choir boy at the cathedral in Edinburgh and "sang all the liturgical music there."
He studied music at university "and I've always been studying sacred music; that's has been my specialty."