In celebration of this week’s St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Day, the Church of St. Aidan will host its annual concert, Angelic Fire, on Sunday at 3 p.m.
A full orchestra will perform the music with a chorus that includes the parish’s choir members and children of all ages.
“We will do some classical pieces as we did with the Christmas concert, but it’s a very light program,” said Greg Mercer, who is the tenor leader and one of two cantors for the ensemble. “It will be similar to pops.”
Mercer, who has been with St. Aidan’s for about a decade, will sing the national anthems of both Ireland and Italy. Mercer, an adjunct professor of music at Hofstra, has toured both as a soloist and part of a quartet to over 40 countries and all 50 states.
His also is the conductor of the Bel Canto Chorale and for 15 years he was the assistant conductor at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan.
In addition to the two anthems, Mercer is also singing a piece from Italian composer Paolo Tosti.
“The thing about pops music is that it is very accessible to the general public,” Mercer said. “Anyone that comes, even if they aren’t familiar with classical music, are going to enjoy the content.”
In addition to the upcoming concert Sunday, the Williston church will be hosting events for Good Friday and an Easter Vigil, which will not include the orchestra that plays for Angelic Fire and the Christmas concert.
Conducting the concert will be Drago Bubalo, who has been with the parish full time since 2003.
The Church of St. Aidan’s choir was invited to perform the cantata “Love Transcending” at Carnegie Hall in 2017 by the Carnegie Hall Artistic Committee after the choir submitted a 2016 performance to them. It was one of the multiple times the choir has performed at Carnegie Hall in recent years.
To make every concert, funeral and choir practice, Bubalo has a very unorthodox way of traveling to work, he told Blank Slate Media in January. He said he flies his own plane from Poughkeepsie to Republic Airport in Farmingdale, which cuts down his travel time to about 25 minutes.
When Bubalo isn’t flying into Long Island, something he said he does once a week, he is operating as a flight instructor or commercial pilot, teaching students sometimes on his way to and from work.
Music and flying have been two of Bubalo’s biggest interests for a long time. He began learning how to play the piano at the age of 6 while growing up in Croatia.
“My father sang in the church choir, and I started to play at early morning mass when I was 15,” Bubalo said.
After working as an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati for some 10 years, Bubalo went back to Croatia following the country’s Homeland War. He served mainly as a band director for the country’s army, but also acted as a translator in the Croatian Air Force. His main responsibility with the air force was engineering for transport planes.
Bubalo performed as a member of a band for four years before getting a job as a chorus opera director at the “Croatia National Opera.” Eventually, he returned to the United States in 2002.
He has also worked as the music director for St. Ignatius and St. Mary’s, both in the Cincinnati area.
More information about the concert can be found at the church’s website www.staidanparish.org.