In Your Midst
The Pew Next To You
Winter 99

Alex Mansoori
Alex Mansoori
"This is the fun," grins Alex Mansoori explaining his love of spending his "spare" time as a chorister in the St. James Cathedral Choir, as well as acting and singing in 29 local shows since age 10.

Now 15, Alex is an O'Dea sophomore. He has studied and performed with the Youth Theatre Northwest, appeared with the Seattle Repertory Theatre, Seattle Opera Chorus, Seattle Children's Theatre, Civic Light Opera, Holy Names Academy Drama program and on television with Bill Nye the Science Guy. Alex has been in shows at The Paramount and is the youngest chorister with the St. James Cathedral Choir. His most recent role was in the Civic Opera's production of "Oliver."

Alex recalls how exciting it was to be a part of the 1995 production of "Carmen" at the Seattle Opera House: "Up until the dress rehearsal and opening night, it didn't seem much different. That first night was something else: seeing the audience filling the Opera House, feeling their presence, being on stage with the opera singers - it was awesome."

Alex's introduction as cantor at St. James was in April at the poignant Memorial Mass for the victims, classmates and families of the Littleton School tragedy.

Dr. James Savage, director of the Cathedral office of Liturgy and Music, believes Alex is a major talent with a challenging career ahead. John Lynch, a classmate of Alex, is a senior at O'Dea and spoke of his friend, "Alex is so capable and yet so even about all he does. But sometimes I worry that he is doing too much."

But Alex just smiles and says, "That's what the fun is."

Lita and Friends
Lita (L) with Gertrude Fortune and Anita Mocorro
Everything Lita McBride does seems to be at a quick, yet quiet pace. Even her one block walk from home to St. James is swift and frequent. Lita taught school in the Philippines before moving here in the early '80s to take care of her mother. She stepped right in to volunteering at St. James in a broad range of ministries.

Since those first days, Lita has been and continues as a Eucharistic minister. She was an RCIA team member, one of the first Cabrini minister volunteers, taped Sunday Masses for stay-at-home parishioners, and visited the home bound, delivering Holy Communion and recordings of the 10 a.m. Sunday Mass. Lita is a reader and lay presider, has served on the infant baptism team, and assists at parish funerals.

With encouragement from her husband Guy, Lita enrolled at Seattle University and received her Master of Arts in Pastoral Studies degree this year. She is now on the religious education staff at the Bremerton parish, Our Lady Star of the Sea.

Fortunately for St. James, Lita still lives a block away and continues to be a minister here.

Robert Feist
Robert Feist
"I feel my roots are here" is what Robert Feist said several times when asked why he landed in Seattle and at St. James Cathedral. Since his conducting debut in 1955 with the Rome Opera House Orchestra, he has lived several decades in Europe and subsequent years in the United States as a musician - conducting symphony orchestras, concerts and operas throughout the world. So, why here? He chose us.

Perhaps our Italian Renaissance cathedral recalls memories of such places as La Scala and centuries old European cathedrals, and our choirs echo beautiful liturgies in those cathedrals.

Feist describes his life as a series of seven years: seven in Italy, seven in Germany, seven in Seattle in the eighties, seven in San Francisco, seven in Portland and now beginning his second seventh here.

When first in Seattle, Feist was director of the University of Washington Opera and Symphony Orchestras and head of graduate studies. This time he is continuing as consultant and as voice coach to singers pursuing opera careers.

Playbills of his past concerts and operas decorate his Northend home, a veritable map of the world: Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Turin, Munich, Geneva, Lugano, Manila, Russia, Czechoslovakia, Australia, New Zealand and such U.S. venues as New Orleans, Cincinnati and Miami.

Feist's West Coast career includes seven years as director of opera and symphony of the Festival at Lake Tahoe, the Oakland Opera, the New Oakland East Bay Symphony, the Marin Civic Light Opera and Opera Peninsula out of San Mateo. Feist has written and hosted five nationally broadcast series for NPR and APR, "Exploring Opera," "Orchestras of the East" and "Winds of the East." In Portland, Feist produced the Rossini Bicentennial Festival and conducted master classes at Portland State University, Willamette University and the Southern and Western state universities.

Joan McDonell is a St. James Cathedral parishioner, a member of the Development Board and a retired Seattle Times editor.


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