For Musicians This Easter, Still Looking to Soar in Empty Spaces

For Musicians This Easter, Still Looking to Soar in Empty Spaces

On Holy Thursday, the music is a bit quieter and more introspective, said Jeanne Holcomb, a member of the choir for 17 years. On Good Friday, she said, they move on to Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Christ.” By Saturday and Sunday: “Lots of hallelujahs,” she said. “It’s really, really fun to sing. You really let it all loose after those solemn services.”

The highlight of her week, though, usually comes well before Masses begin, at the final rehearsal on Wednesday night.

“We’d go for hours and hours, because we have to rehearse everything for Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” Ms. Holcomb said. “And everybody’s like, ‘Oh my Lord, this is taking so long.’ But at the end of it, we just feel so accomplished.”

“It’s a lot of music,” she added. “But it’s all so good.”

In past years, Ms. Holcomb, who lives in Brooklyn, would usually cap off the weekend at the cathedral with a visit to her sister in New Jersey on Easter Sunday. But she will spend this year’s holiday the same way as everyone else, following Mass from afar.

“I’ll watch the live stream, but otherwise, I’m singing by myself just for fun,” she said. “It’s a bummer, but then so many people have it worse. I just miss it, that’s all.”

For her part, Dr. Pascual will still play the organ on Saturday night for the Easter vigil, which will also be streamed live online. Dr. Pascual has always felt a particularly strong attachment to the vigil, and to the weekend as a whole — her last name has roots in the Latin word for Easter. But this year no one will be baptized or confirmed at the cathedral during the Saturday vigil, as is usual, and the deacon who typically leads a portion of the liturgy is stuck in Portugal because of the virus.


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