Nearly 20 chairs and music stands surround a wooden piano and a whiteboard with music intervals written on it. Hanley Hall at Holy Spirit in Tempe, Ariz., is the home base for the Choristers of St. Florian, a children’s Gregorian Chant choir directed by Giorgio Navarini. Navarini is also the founder and director of a well-known men’s vocal ensemble, Floriani.

What led to the creation of the Chorister’s of St. Florian was the desire of several families to have their children learn Gregorian Chant and about the sacred music of the Catholic Church. Navarini said he complied since he had learned how to teach it in his years as a musician.

“The Choristers spend almost all their time learning the ancient art of Gregorian Chant and singing sacred music and not only how to do sacred music but how to be musicians,” said Navarini. This entails learning how to sight read, learning how to sing and have vocally healthy voices, but also how to share the gift with people around them.

As Christians, any gift the Lord gives us is meant to be shared and that is something that the Choristers of St. Florian understand very well. Although they practice at Holy Spirit Parish, they travel from parish to parish to share their musical gift.

The chorister’s ages range from nine to 16 years.

A love for sacred music

“I joined because I love to sing and I’ve always wanted to be in a choir, and I love being Catholic,” said Arianna Falconburg. “It’s a beautiful religion and with the Choristers of St. Florian I get to do both.”

Today, it is difficult to imagine that young people, much less children, would know and have a love for Gregorian chant. However, for the nearly 20 children in the choir, it could not be farther from their reality.

“It’s a beautiful way of singing, all the notes and the words blend together and they’re just so beautiful,” added Arianna Falconburg.

Annie Faulk, another chorister, also joined because she loved to sing. Even though she’s been singing from a younger age, she said that being part of the choir has opened her up to more songs.

“My favorite thing about choir is probably that we get to learn new songs and old chant that people don’t even remember, like chant that is thousands of years old,” Faulk shared.


Something unexpected about the Choristers of St. Florian, Navarini said, is “the level of professionality from such young musicians.” He added that they’re able to do things that professional musicians can do, and the choristers have done it within just a short time span. He’s been working with most of them for about two years.

“They can recognize key signatures, they can sing the neums of Gregorian chant, things that really are unheard of in most of the world and most music programs.”

A deepening faith life

Navarini added that the children have a strong family culture and have a strong Catholic identity.

Becky Greene, mother of a chorister says that being part of the choir has enhanced her daughter’s faith life. Navarini has taught them to understand music and its greater purpose, which is to point us to God.

Another mother, Adriana Carbajal, says that her daughter’s faith life has been impacted, particularly during the Mass. “I just see that her heart is there, during Mass,” said Carbajal. Being part of the choir has helped her focus.

Her daughter has always liked Gregorian chant since her father always listens to it, so it was not a new thing for her. When she heard about the children’s choir, she was eager to join.

Jen Steineke, mother of two choristers, commented that children naturally have a short attention span.

So, it may seem like singing something like Gregorian chant may be challenging for them to concentrate on. However, she highlights Navarini’s ability to cultivate their talents and inspire focus.

She has witnessed this ability in her own children.

“[The way it has affected their life] is that it has piqued their interest in understanding the liturgy and the music in Mass at a deeper level,” said Steineke.

Jean Falconburg, aunt of a chorister, says that even though her niece grew up listening to it, being part of the choir has brought her to a new fondness for sacred music.

“I think it’s brought her to maybe even a vocation. She talks about perhaps becoming a nun, entering a convent… but she’s also talking about becoming a music teacher like her teacher and really focusing on sacred music,” says Falconburg.

Sacred music on mission

Greene said that the children see their involvement in the choir as mission work.

Aside from having the opportunity to sing in different parishes around the valley, the children are taking their mission work on a sacred music tour in Rome from August 22-27, which includes the Vatican. Fourteen of the participants will be going, along with their families, some families as big as 13 people.

The children are looking forward to sharing the beauty of sacred music during their tour in Rome and in true child-like spirit, they are also excited for the gelato!

To fundraise for this tour in Rome, the children have been selling an album they recorded. Holy Smoke Comedy offered to have an Improv & Sketch Comedy Night to help fundraise and FiAt Productions has also contributed to their efforts.

A couple of weeks ago, the children sang in downtown Gilbert. They found a two-story building with an open space with beautiful acoustics. Nereida Luna, mother of a chorister, who heads the fundraising efforts, shared about that experience.

“A lady came up to me and she gave them a donation and she said, ‘That was my daughter 20 years ago’. Another lady went and dropped a donation and as she was walking past me to leave, she was crying at hearing them sing,” said Luna.

They also walked along the pavement passing the restaurants. Although there was music inside the restaurants, Luna noted that people turned toward the children.

Another parent noticed a little boy, around seven or eight years of age, standing and just marveling at the choristers. He dropped a couple of dollars into their collection two times.

At such tender ages, it is beautiful to see how the Holy Spirit has moved and is moving in these children’s lives. Not only is it evident that He is moving in their lives, but also in the lives of the people that see them and hear them.

Courtesy of Choristers of St. Florian

If you feel called to help them in their sacred music tour in Rome, you can email for additional information.