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Domus Dei Duo bringing Bach sacred music to the Church

Rachael Shipard and Eleanor Adeney

Inspired young women: Pianist and organist Rachael Shipard and violinist and vocalist Eleanor Adeney are Domus Dei Duo, a two-piece outfit offering sacred music for weddings, funerals and other Catholic liturgies. Photo: Emilie Ng

CLASSICALLY-trained musicians Eleanor Adeney and Rachael Shipard are adding churches to their list of potential venues to add “dignity and solemnity” to Catholic liturgies around Brisbane.

The Brisbane Catholics and renowned musicians are combining their Catholic faith with their musical prowess to play sacred music for liturgies throughout Brisbane.

“Our faith is very important to us and then we both have had a lot of classical training, so combining the faith and the music to promote good church music was a massive push for us,” Miss Adeney, a violinist and vocalist, said.

“We saw a lack of it and were just interested in restoring beautiful church music.”

Miss Adeney and Miss Shipard met in 2008 while playing for the Junior String Ensemble in the Queensland Youth Orchestra and from 2013 started playing for weddings, funerals and Masses.

Sacred music has become an important part of both musicians’ repertoire as Catholics.

Miss Adeney, 22, assists her father, Queensland Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Warwick Adeney with music for the Brisbane Oratory in Formation, while Miss Shipard, 21, sings and plays organ for the St Gregory’s Latin Mass Community choir.

Miss Shipard also became the first organ scholar at St Stephen’s Cathedral last year under the guidance of music director Dr Andrew Cichy.

The pair also play music for the weekly Frassati Mass at Annerley but have officially joined forces as Domus Dei Duo, Latin for House of God, to promote their shared love of Catholic sacred church music.

“It was a natural progression for us to get our faith and our music combined,” Miss Adeney said.

“There are not that many Catholic musicians out there so we definitely had that in common.

“That’s what drew us together.”

Both young women said they started their music careers at a young age.

“I think I started piano and violin with my dad when I was about six,” Miss Adeney said.

“And singing, I’ve always been singing.

“(My parents) could never shut me up in a church when I was a baby, they had to take me away because I was way too noisy.”

Eleanor Adeney and Rachael Shipard are Domus Dei Duo

Young artists: Rachael Shipard and Eleanor Adeney are Domus Dei Duo, a classical and sacred music duet. Photo: Emilie Ng

Miss Shipard got her first taste of the piano at the age of five and received her first violin on her eighth birthday.

Outside of the Church, their musical careers are equally impressive.

Miss Adeney just completed an opera season with Brisbane City Opera and is a music teacher at two Brisbane Catholic schools.

Miss Shipard teaches from home as well as undertaking her organ scholar duties up to six days a week.

She is also studying a Masters of Music Research at the Conservatorium of Music and still participates in piano competitions.

But it’s their love of the 2000-year-old tradition of sacred church music that inspires their music the most.

“We feel there’s a lot of good sacred music out there that’s not played a lot or sung much in parishes,” Miss Shipard said.

“The Church has a huge treasure of all this music and we feel it should be preserved and maintained throughout the centuries because it still has relevance, even when it was written in the 15th, 16th, 17th century.

“It’s still important now.

“We both have a gift for music and we’re both Catholic so we thought, there’s so much music that’s required in not just the Mass but anything that is celebrated in a church, so we may as well help out in that way.”

As well as being available to play for liturgies, Domus Dei Duo will also be holding free concerts and fundraising events to support various religious communities in Australia.

Domus Dei Duo will perform their inaugural free concert on August 5 at Sacred Heart Church, Rosalie, taking advantage of the newly restored 1885 pipe organ.

The pair will perform arias composed by Bach for his Sacred Cantatas, written for the Lutheran tradition, and pieces by Rheinberger and Clérambault.

Email to hire Domus Dei Duo for Church services and events.

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