Te Deum concert

UBI CARITAS: Catholic Musical Heritage in the Heartland

Ubi Caritas is an integrated initiative to preserve and share historically-informed Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony with singers, worshippers, and audiences in the city and diocese of Kansas City. It is designed to expand access to these inspiring sacred music traditions by coordinating the ongoing offerings of the Te Deum choir and the Schola Cantorum of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception with lectures and masterclasses by visiting experts and performances by a men’s and a women’s chant group and a polyphonic projects choir. It would provide a welcoming introduction to laity to deepen their faith through a “Chant Academy” on the Fridays of Lent and expand offerings to civic and educational institutions to experience Kansas City’s sacred architecture and acoustics. 

“Ubi Caritas…” (“where charity and love are, God there is.”) is an ancient chant antiphon that summarizes our desire to provide a portal into this sublime tradition for all the residents of our city. For over a millennium, the local Catholic church was often the beating heart of a community. Singing and hearing Gregorian chant liturgies in the art and architectural context of these churches brought beauty and meaning to lives. Such experiences inspired loving charity to serve the needy as well as the development of Western music.

Traditional Performance of Catholic Music Traditions

This initiative offers decades of liturgical performance experience by Dr. Mario Pearson, the director of music for the Diocese of Kansas City and the Schola Cantorum of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception and of sacred polyphony in concert by Dr. Matthew Christopher Shepard with his choir Te Deum, in its sixteenth season. They seek to transmit the original inspiration and cultural contexts of this sacred repertoire through historically-informed performance practice as researched and implemented by international experts. Dr. Shepard’s recent dissertation upon Renaissance polyphony recreates traditional learning and rehearsal techniques using modern editions of the original partbooks. Project coordinator and tenor in both choirs for the last five years, Christopher Fuelling worked as a theater director in Europe, where he created several liturgical reconstructions with his 17thC ensemble Cappella Confluentes (Koblenz) and in Gregorian chant at the Art Monastery he co-founded near Rome. 

Together with women’s chant group conductor, Annija Veitnere, Christopher and Matthew offer the most direct connection to the semiologically-informed performance of Gregorian chant in North America. This musicological method was pioneered by Professor Franz Karl Prassl at the Pontifical Institute for Church Music in the Vatican. We have brought three of his colleagues and most experienced conductors to Kansas City to lead masterclasses and chant performances and who will serve on our advisory board: Fr. Anthony Ruff (St. John, MN) and Professors Eugeen Liven d’Abelardo (Graz, Trondheim) and Antanina Kalechyts (Vienna). Christopher Fuelling and Matthew Christopher Shepard have recorded with Professor d’Abelaro’s ensemble Hartkeriana, Annija Veitnere studied in Rome with Professor Prassl and teaches chant to students at Benedictine College,

Dr. Edward Shaefer, who would preview the 2025 Lenten Chant Academy with an Epiphany weekend of masterclasses, created a leading method for teaching chant to laity in ways that are informed by the semiological method but are easy for non-musicians to understand. And chant academy director,  Stephen Arachtingi has introduced Gregorian chant to parishes in Minnesota and Missouri and is passionate about making its language and melodies accessible to Catholic laity to deepen their experience and understanding.


Season 1: June 2024-2025

Our first season will begin with the Feast of Corpus Christi weekend of masses and concerts June 1-3 featuring visiting Prof. Antanina Kalechyts. In addition to performing the currently scheduled Cathedral Schola and Te Deum concerts, we will finish the planning and funding for the proposed Ubi Caritas programming and education beginning in 2025 including:

[Detailed Season 1 schedule proposal below]

Season 2: October 2025-June 2026
Responding to opportunities and lessons of the first season, the second season would fund ongoing paid chant ensembles as the backbone for inspiring concerts and events coordinated with other local and visiting experts and ensembles. It would respond to further opportunities for outreach and education in the community and diocese.

Entities, Partnerships, & Financial

Ubi Caritas will become an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation to qualify for public foundation grants like the Lilly Foundation and tax-deductible donations from private patrons. It seeks mutually beneficial partnerships with the Dioceses of KCMO and KCK as well as civic institutions like the Nelson-Atkins museum for funding and hosting performances and educational outreach. It can earn income providing musical services for weddings, funerals, and other ceremonies as well as for educational experiences. Within the overall initiative there would be five coordinated elements.


The expenses to operate the overall initiative are scalable and include:


KEY: Boldface indicates scheduled and funded programming

Italic font indicates proposed events (dependent upon funding)

Corpus Christi Weekend: June 2024

Fall-Winter 2024


Enchanted Epiphany & Chant Academy Preview: January 2025

St. Valentine’s Festival of the Song of Songs: February 2025

Marking the main debuts of the Polyphony Project and the women’s chant group and, with a Nelson-Atkins partnership this could be augmented by Prof. Antanina Kalechyt’s preeminent women’s chant group Graces & Voices “Song of Songs chant program. Recent video of G&V)


Lenten Chant Academy: March-April 2025

Mardi Gras weekend is an interesting time in Kansas City, as it is another rare example of a religious festival celebrated civically like Corpus Christi. In the Catholic tradition it serves as the final festivities preceding the more introspective season of Lent. As a season traditionally enriched by sacred music, we propose the Friday evenings of Lent to offer the Chant Academy to introduce those who want to deepen their experience of Lent through this ancient practice. This could be hosted by the Cathedral or interested parishes.


Corpus Christi Season 1 Closing: June 2025

At the conclusion of the Catholic sacred seasons of Advent-Pentecost, the Feast of Corpus Christi and its traditional procession through the city streets, marks a return of the focus to civic life in the community. This such a celebration would be an appropriate closing for Season 1 of Ubi Caritas and an opportunity for all of the chant groups and academy to shine together in a public offering to the city. Possibly integrated with a similar-but-different project to this year’s Sacred Banquet Weekend between Te Deum, the Diocese, and AGO. 

An exciting artistic possibility would be 16th-17thC choral settings of the famous chants whose texts were composed by Thomas Aquinas for the creation of this Feast. Another possibility would be the return of Prof. Liven d’Abelardo and some chant experts to join the Ubi Caritas musicians to record the manuscripts at the Spencer Art Reference Library of the Nelson-Atkins Museum”



Annija Veitnere, Women’s Chant Group Conductor

Annija Veitnere teaches Liturgical Music I and II, Gregorian Chant Modality, Music and Catholic Liturgy, Functional Keyboard, Recreational Piano, and conducts the Liturgical Choir at Benedictine College. Her studies and teaching experience were cultivated in her native country of Latvia and time in Poland and Italy. While in Rome, she was a Lecturer and cantor at the Music School for the Liturgy, Cantatibus Organis, at the Basilica di San Cecilia in Trastevere. She was a cantor and soprano in the Coro Liturgico Polifonico of the Basilica Papale di San Paolo Fuori le Mura. She also taught Gregorian chant to female Benedictine monasteries and parish choirs in Rome and surrounding areas as well as intensive special summer courses in Gregorian chant and modality. She has held the position of Liturgical Music Director in parishes in Latvia and Poland.

Her studies include degrees and certificates from The Music School for the Liturgy, Toruń, Poland, the Rīga Higher Institute of Religious Studies (affiliated with Pontifical Lateran University in Rome), the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of University of San Anselmo in Urbe in Rome, the Music School for the Liturgy, Cantatibus Organis, runned in collaboration with the Benedictine nuns community at the monastery of Saint Cecilia in Rome where, among other things, she studied the Gregorian Semiology with Maestro Nino Albarosa and Sr. Dolores Aguirre.

Christopher Fuelling, Project Coordinator

A theater director and tenor, Mr. Fuelling has researched and performed Early Music for three decades and created several liturgical reconstructions in European churches before moving to Kansas City in 2018. He holds a BA in anthropology from Princeton, an MA in art from Ball State University, an MFA from California Institute of the Arts in opera directing and vocal performance, and moved to Amsterdam in 1999 on a Beebe Foundation fellowship to study Baroque vocal performance with Max van Egmond. There he also began studying, performing, and recording Gregorian Chant with Professor Eugeen Liven d’Abelardo at the Schola Cantorum Amsterdam and with his professional chant ensemble Harkeriana

He co-founded the 17thC orchestra Cappella Confluentes in Koblenz with conductor Jörn Hinnerk Andresen, where they created and recorded a Polish-Italian “Easter Vespers ca 1615 at the Royal Court of Poland” with Polish musicologist and soprano Maria Skiba. He performed, stage-managed, and recorded 17thC Italian repertoire with Gabriel Garrido’s Ensemble Elyma across Europe and, while singing with Daniel Reuss’ Cappella Amsterdam co-created Obscura, a Medieval music meets modern dance collaboration between them and Krisztina de Châtel’s Dansgroep Amsterdam. He co-founded the Art Monastery Project outside of Rome, where he created several Baroque and chant liturgies and concerts in churches and site-specific theater spectacles at historical sites throughout Italy. 

As a theater director, he also directed large participatory operas at the Burning Man festival in Nevada and Situbanda, a contemporary/traditional exploration of the Balinese version of the Ramayana at the Bali Arts Festival and on Java. Returning to the US in 2013 he directed The Alchemy, a performing arts space in the Hollywood Hills and founded his own company, Teatro Korazon, based in Los Angeles and Kansas City. Recently, he directed Misterios Antigos, a modular exploration of the site’s spiritual heritage in Agueda, Portugal and an Astarte Shabbat, a large participatory ritual at a festival in Israel. As a tenor he has sung as an opera and oratorio soloist and with several choirs and conductors in Europe and the US including the LA Master Chorale and Orchestra Surreal in Los Angeles and Te Deum and the Cathedral Schola in Kansas City.

Dr. Mario Pearson, Project Supervisor & Polyphonic Projects conductor

The Music Coordinator for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and the director of music at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, Dr. Pearson was born and raised in Cape Town, South Africa during that country’s Apartheid era. As a child he received early musical training through the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College of Music.  He has been involved with church music since the age of 12 when he became church organist for his local parish. His family came to the United States in 1983 and settled  in Fairmont, West Virginia. After college graduation he moved to Florida in 1988 to begin a career of service to several faith and education communities.

Dr. Pearson was an educator in the Florida parochial and public school system from 1988-2001. He served as fine arts department chairman, director of choral activities, music theory, piano and musical theater at Mainland High school in Daytona Beach. His choral and musical theater performing groups consistently received superior ratings and his musical theater programs received the “best of the best” ratings in the state of Florida for two consecutive years. His dedication to working with students from all cultural and economic backgrounds was rewarded when he was named Mainland High School’s Teacher of the Year and Volusia County’s Teacher of the year in 1999. Later that year, he was selected as one of 172 teachers in the nation to be awarded the prestigious Milken Family Foundation award for teaching excellence.

He holds a Bachelor’s degree in music education K-12 with an emphasis in piano and organ performance and choral pedagogy; a Masters degree in Education Administration and a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership. Prior to his appointment at the Cathedral in November 2006, he served as an adjunct professor of education at Daytona Beach Community College, and as director of Music and Liturgy for Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church in Daytona Beach Florida where he developed many diverse music and liturgy programs within the faith community as well as serving as band director in the school. Additionally, he worked as a professional music consultant and clinician to churches, choral and theater performing groups .  

Dr. Matthew Christopher Shepard, Conductor of Schola Te Deum 

Matthew Christopher Shepard’s unique career path has led him to concert halls conducting both professional orchestras and choirs, to collegiate and secondary school classrooms to guest conduct and lecture in musicology and church music, and to communities of faith to lead both Christian and Jewish worship services. His intellectual curiosity, fearless programming, and magnetic leadership have made him one of the most sought-after conductors in the region.

Dr. Shepard is the founder and conductor of Te Deum, which has established itself as one of the premier choral ensembles in the Midwest. He is frequently engaged as a conducting clinician, most recently with the American Choral Directors Association Kansas State Convention Honor Choir in 2021. With his growing reputation in the Early Music field, Dr. Shepard’s work and contributions to the field have twice been featured in the publication Early Music America, and has presented lectures on historical chant performance, music history, and Renaissance performance practice. With Te Deum he has given period performances of great pillars of baroque music including Buxtehude’s Membra Jesu Nostri, J.S. Bach’s St. John Passion, and Bach’s B-Minor Mass.

As an orchestral conductor, Dr. Shepard has conducted several ensembles in the area, including The Philharmonia of Greater Kansas City, the Kansas City Civic Orchestra, and the Kansas City Baroque. He has also served as orchestra director at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. In the summer of 2018 he was invited to conduct the closing orchestral concert of the American Guild of Organists National Convention in Helzberg Hall at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, and in 2024 has been the conductor of the University of Illinois Philharmonia Orchestra

Beginning his musical studies in woodwinds and voice, Dr. Shepard holds an undergraduate degree from William Jewell College, two master’s degrees studying both choral and orchestral conducting at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, and completed his doctorate at the University of Illinois where he held teaching assistantships for both the choral and orchestra ensembles. Dr. Shepard has had additional conducting study as a fellow at the Conductors Institute at Bard College Conservatory under Maestro Leon Botstein and at the Oregon Bach Festival Composers Institute and private study of Gregorian Chant semiology with Professor Eugeen Liven d’Abelardo in Hilversum, NL.

Stephen Arachtingi, Chant Academy Instructor

Stephen Arachtingi is a musician and financial professional from Minneapolis, Minnesota. He attended the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota where he received a BA in Catholic Studies and Philosophy. During his time there Stephen received formation in the minor seminary of St. John Vianney. 

As a singer he established a Gregorian Chant program for highschool boys and girls at Chesterton Academy. He worked one season with the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale which sings orchestral Masses year-round. The following two years he sang with a schola comprised of select Rose Ensemble members for a parish in the Twin Cities. In 2017 at the behest of the bishop of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN, Stephen participated in an effort to introduce the Tridentine Mass to Novus Ordo parishes around the Archdiocese. For this effort he co-founded and sang in Ensemble Flos Florum which provided Early Music and Gregorian Chant for the effort. Additionally Ensemble Flos Florum put on a number of concerts throughout the Twin Cities and worked in tandem with the Mirandola Ensemble. He has studied chant with the Benedictine monks of Norcia (Nursia) as well as the Benedictines at Our Lady of Clear Creek in Oklahoma. In 2023 he moved to Kansas City, MO where he sings at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His career in finance has consisted in working as a financial advisor, and currently as a representative of Allianz Life managing relationships with their business partners. 


Prof. Antanina Kalechyts

Professor of Gregorian chant and liturgy at the Institute for Organ, Organ Research and Church Music at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Antanina Kalechyts was born in Minsk (Belarus). She completed studies in church music with a focus on Gregorian chant and organ, concert organ, and orchestral conducting at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz (both with distinction). In 2016, she completed her doctorate in Gregorian chant with Professors Franz Karl Praßl and Eugeen Liven d’Abelardo at the artistic-scientific doctoral school in Graz. In her doctoral thesis “Neume und Klang – Untersuchungen zur Gesangstechnik der Gregorianik anhand des Propriums von Frauenfesten” she focused on the interpretation of Gregorian chant in a comparative study of Saint Gall manuscripts. From 2009 to 2017 she taught at the Graz University of Art and Design in the classes for orchestral and choir conducting as well as in the Mumuth opera studio.  Kalechyts is co-founder and director of the vocal ensemble Graces & Voices, which is particularly dedicated to the interpretation of Gregorian chant as well as contemporary music. She performs internationally as artistic director of the Schola of Vienna’s Hofburg Chapel and regularly participates in liturgical and scientific symposia. In 2014 Antanina Kalechyts made her debut as a conductor and musical assistant at the  Lehár Festival Bad Ischl . This was followed by engagements as a conductor in the fields of operetta, opera, concerts and church music. Since 2016, Kalechyts has been providing musical assistance for numerous productions at the Neue Oper Wien. Since 2018 she has been guest conductor of the New Music Ensemble Reconsil (Vienna) and cooperates with the Sirene Opera Theater, among others.

Fr. Anthony Ruff

Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB is a monk and priest of St. John’s Abbey. He teaches theology, liturgical music, and Gregorian chant at the School of Theology and Seminary of St. John’s University in Minnesota. He has masters degrees from St. John’s and Yale Divinity School, and he earned his doctorate in liturgy from the University of Graz, Austria. He has studied organ with Kim Kasling, Thomas Murray, and Peter Planyavsky. He is the founding director of the National Catholic Youth Choir, a summer camp and touring experience at St. Johns for high-school singers. He served on the music subcommittee of the national Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy that drafted the 2007 document of the US bishops Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. He was chair of the committee of three people that wrote the English chant melodies for the 2011 Roman Missal for all the English-speaking countries. He has served on the board of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians and the leadership team of the Catholic Academy of Liturgy, and he has served on the executive committee of the Hymn Society. He is a frequent presenter across the U.S. and internationally on topics of liturgy and music, he serves as English-German translator for the Internationale Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Hymnologie, and he frequently publishes in liturgical and musical journals. He plays organ and directs Gregorian chant at the abbey. He is moderator of the popular liturgy blog “Pray Tell.”

Dr. Edward Shaefer

Prof. Eugeen Liven d’Abelardo

Born in Knokke aan Zee, Belgium in 1950, he received his musical education (organ, counterpoint & fugue) at the Royal Music Conservatories of Ghent and Brussels. In postgraduate studies, he specialized in both choral and orchestral conducting at the Musikhochschule Köln and contemporary music in Basel, Stockholm and Rome. A major influence on Eugeen were his encounters with the legendary conductor Sergiu Celibidache, while studying phenomenology of music both in Munich and Mainz. After his studies he became a conductor with the BRT-Brussels Radio Orchestra and the Opera of Flanders in Ghent. In 1976 he founded the Flemish Mobile Ensemble, a specialized group for contemporary music and theatre. As a composer, he has been awarded various international prizes for choral composition. Living in the Netherlands, since 1987, he has been the music director of several choral groups. He specialized – returning to his first love – in Gregorian chant, directing the Schola Cantorum Amsterdam (weekly vespers in St.Nikolaaskerk, Amsterdam), the Schola Gregoriana Hilversum, and since 1994 the professional vocal ensemble Hartkeriana for recordings and festivals. From October 2005 he was appointed visiting professor Gregorian chant at the KUG University in Graz and since Oct.2007 guest professor at the NTNU University in Trondheim. From 2001 until 2012 he lived both in Auroville, S.India and Hilversum, the Netherlands.