Just as it has throughout the parish’s history, music will play a major role in the five-day inauguration, May 18-22, of the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in downtown Lewiston.

There will be three noontime concerts leading up to a Saturday evening concert and the Sunday afternoon Mass on May 22.

The higher status of basilica for the church was given by the Vatican last fall and it makes the church the only basilica in Maine and the 56th in the United States.

The Wednesday noon program of music May 18 will feature organist John H. Corrie. He will play the Fifth Symphony by Charles-Marie Widor and the third Mendelssohn sonata. Corrie holds degrees from Oberlin Conservatory, Northwestern University and Yale University School of Music, where he studied organ and harpsichord. He has been teaching at Bates College since 1982. With Professor Marion Anderson’s retirement this year, Corrie will assume Anderson’s duties as organist at the Bates College Chapel.

Scott Vaillancourt, music director for Saints Peter and Paul Parish, said there is a long-standing tradition of Bates College organists performing at the Catholic church. “This is a connection I would like to renew.”

The Thursday, May 19, noon program will be a vocal concert of sacred music by Ami Vice and Leon Griesbach. Vice, who is Miss Maine 2004, received a bachelor of music with distinction in vocal performance from the University of Oklahoma last May, where she studied with Salvatore Champagne. She spent the summer with Marilyn Horne and the faculty at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, Calif. Her operatic roles include Musetta in “La Bohème,” Adina in “L’Elisir d’Amore,” Ninfa in “L’Orfeo,” and Despina in scenes from “Cosi Fan Tutte.”

Griesbach, a native of Lisbon Falls and a parishioner at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, is currently an undergraduate student of organ and vocal performance at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. He has served as a cantor and choir member at Saints Peter and Paul for a number of years.

Richard M. Dostie, music director of the Penobscot Bay Singers, Belfast, will be accompanist for Vice and Griesbach.

The Friday noon program will feature the Scola Cantorum of Saints Peter and Paul Parish. This five-member a cappella group will present Gregorian chant and other polyphonic numbers.

The Saturday evening program, a Celebration Concert, will feature the Basilica Choir of Saints Peter and Paul and singers from six parishes in surrounding towns. The assembled choir will total about 50 voices and will be accompanied by the Norumbega Brass Ensemble of Gorham.

Dennis St. Pierre, Robert Bott, Griesbach and Vice will perform as soloists with the full choir singing Saturday evening. St. Pierre is a native of Lewiston who has traveled and performed all over the world. He has co-starred theatrically on national and international tours with Don Knotts and Theodore Bikel, and other stars. He has also performed for more than 50 theater companies throughout the United States. On television, St. Pierre has appeared on “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal,” “NYPD Blue,” “Passions” and the “Bette Midler Show.” He most recently portrayed the role of the Engineer in the critically acclaimed show “Miss Saigon” in the Philadelphia area. Last spring, he created the role of Arronax on the recording of a new musical version of “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” for Walden Family Playhouse.

Bott has sung with numerous choruses and is well known as a soloist in the Twin City area. He studied vocal music under the direction of Marion Rabassa, a well known and respected vocal teacher in the Lewiston area. Bott performs locally at many benefit functions and has had supporting roles in “Les Cloches de Corneville,” “Mame” and “Carousel” with several local theater groups. He performed for more than 20 years as a member of the Magic and Company choral production group. He is a cantor and guest soloist at several local parishes.

Sean Fleming will be the organist accompanying the choir for the Celebration Concert at the Basilica. He has been active as a music director, organist, and pianist throughout Maine, New Hampshire, Michigan and Ohio and is the accompanist for the Bowdoin Chorus, the Coastal Chorale, the Saint Cecilia Chamber Choir, and the Sheepscot Valley Chorus.

The Mass at 5 p.m. Sunday will also feature music by Saturday’s large choir, which will be joined by the choir from Portland’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, with renowned organist Philip Fournier. A Te Deum composed by a former parishioner, George Blouin, and dedicated specifically for this event, will be performed. Blouin, now a New York resident, will attend. Also performing will be members of the fifth- and sixth-grade choirs of St. Peter’s and Sacred Heart School in Auburn.

Vaillancourt said the music on Sunday will include works associated with the parish such as pieces favored by The Rev. Maurice Lebrun, OP, who was music director some 50 years ago. Also to be performed will be “Suite Gothic,” by Leon Boellman, which Vaillancourt said, was often played by Bernard Piché, organist through the 1960s.

The Most Reverend Richard J. Malone, Bishop of the Diocese of Portland, will officiate for the Sunday inaugural liturgy at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.

Vaillancourt said he is sure the increased exposure and interest in the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul will mean more music will be played there this summer.

The noted Lewiston landmark is the second largest Roman Catholic church structure in all of New England.

Construction began in 1904 and was completed 34 years later.The twin towers rise to a height of 163 feet, and the church’s 5,000-pipe organ fills the huge, vaulted chamber with music. The pews can seat nearly 1,500 worshippers.

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