Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

The Choral Year- Onward!

For many of us, the choral year is about to start again.  To all the directors, accompanists, and singers,  here’s wishing everyone a year of musical growth and rich spiritual rewards of our hearts’ desire.  Thanks to those who, week aft…

Just what is the new evangelization, anyway? (Where is it going, this nouvelle évangélisation?)

I’m sitting at my desk before beginning the day’s work, looking out the window and watching a man in a suit who is reading the flyer I put on the door of our meeting rooms building. This happens all day long. It’s a regular sheet of white typing paper …

Let the Rumor Mills Begin

This morning the Holy Father appointed the former Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship to a cardinalate see in his home country of Spain.Personally I would be happy to see the Congregation’s Secretary, Archbishop Arthur Roche, take the Congr…

New Women’s Schola in DC

As the Saint Luke ordinariate community moves to downtown Washington DC next month, a new initiative is beginning, to build on our existing tradition of Sacred Music. Named in honor of Saint Benedict and the Benedictine tradition of Gregorian chant, an…

Whistling Into the Wind? OCP responds.

As I’ve spent time offering two articles about whether the “grass roots” of RotR folk/CMAA/Progressive Conservationists (should I copyright that? ) could actually influence via direct dialogue with the “Liturgical Industrial Complex” of publishing companies, I feel obliged to share also the reply I received yesterday from an officer at OCP with the readership. I realize my second article, an attempt to provide a sort of template for others who might wish to also personally get involved in helping the Big Three (and others) towards paradigm shift, was a source of misunderstanding and mockery to some. It was not intended as such. But for the record, we should know the effect and result of such efforts. This is the letter I received from OCP:

Thank you for your email. Please allow me to reply at the request of John Limb. I am the Manager of Worship Publications; I oversee the publication process for our pew resources.

We appreciate your feedback on specific songs in our Breaking Bread and Music Issue publications. This comes at a propitious time as we are in the midst, as I think you know, of receiving input from our missal subscribers via the annual Music Issue Survey. We take this input very seriously. We read every survey and carefully note all specific song suggestions (whether additions or deletions). These titles are gathered and shared with our music selection committee, which reviews them before making recommendations for the contents of the following year’s missals. Even if a song is suggested only once by one subscriber, it is included on the list. Please know that the songs you suggested for removal here will be included on that list as well.

As you can imagine, it is challenging to produce a single-volume sacred music resource that meets the needs and satisfies the expectations of every subscribing parish in the country. The needs and expectations vary widely. Our goal is produce an annual resource that addresses the needs of most of the parishes we serve, knowing that not everyone will be entirely happy with the result. The music selection committee works hard every year to add and remove songs, with much debate and careful consideration of many factors.

We understand the importance of chant and have striven for many years now to include it in our publications. We also, as you know, offer specific publications that offer chant options together in single volumes. There is, of course, Laus Tibi, Christe, with more than 70 chant settings. The most recent example is the St. Meinrad antiphonary. These books are designed to be used in conjunction with our various missal and hymnal programs. In fact, our hymnals include a plastic pocket in the back cover to accommodate these supplemental publications. This provides a means for parishes to access additional music that better addresses their specific needs. It’s not an ideal solution, but it’s the best compromise under the circumstances.

I note that the 2014 edition of Breaking Bread includes more than 45 chant pieces and Latin hymns. We continue to consider chant pieces for inclusion in our missals and have added several in recent years. That said, I will also forward to our committee your suggestion that we increase the number of Latin chant pieces. (emphasis mine)

Thank you again for taking the time to contact us and for using our publications these many years. God bless you in your ministry!


Wade Wisler

Worship Publications Manager

Well, my friends, what think ye?

O Salutaris Hostia by Peter Kwasniewski

Peter Kwasniewski’s setting of the devotional Eucharistic hymn, O SALUTARIS HOSTIA (from “Sacred Choral Works ©2014, Corpus Christi Watershed), serves very well for all levels of SATB choir proficiency and is a compact gem that is appropriate for virtually any Mass. This setting should be of particular interest to smaller and novice SATB Choirs and directors, perhaps in concert with those whose initial forays into four parts also use Richard Rice’s “Simple Choral Gradual ” (CMAA)  as pedagogical bridges to more sophisticated and complex pieces.

A memorable melody in the soprano voice, along with solid voice leading and intuitively easy interval leaps in the other voices, some of which have brief moments of “spice” in the chordal treatment make the argument for the accessibility of this piece. The first system is a purely diatonic and “sweet” exposition of the melody with a solid counterpoint in the bass. At the end of the second phrase, “pandis ostium (to us below)” Kwasniewski employs ascending parallel thirds in the trebles as if we were through that comforting harmony reaching up to receive, but he adds flavor on the third beat “-sti-“, by contrasting an established V chord cadence with a Vsus7 cluster. Just a taste. In the next phrase the altos and basses have a sort of voice exchange contrapuntal movement that is also sweet tension that resolves deceptively for the moment to the relative minor with an added 7th.  This sets up a nice melodic sequence in the soprano voice bridging two text phrases, “Bella premunt hostilia, Da robur, fer auxilium.” Kwasniewski deploys another “flavor” moment when he chooses to use I Major 7 on beat three of m.14 in the tenor voice leading, when he could have opted for vi7 as the relative minor is being established by the stanza cadence with the dominant 7th of vi leading to the da capo.

When reaching that same penultimate cadence, his “amen” is a sublime cascade from soprano descending scale motion through the alto into the tenor to the Picardy third major chord of what was the relative minor.

This is a lovely piece of purpose, clarity with enough little flavor gems to keep choral interest. We will shortly post a sound link featuring the incredible Matthew Curtis.

Washington Post: "Christopher Candela dispels the notion that all organ music sounds the same."

Together, these M.P. Möller organs (dedicated in 1965 and updated in 2001) house 9,393 pipes ranging from a 64-footer to one foot, four keyboards and 157 stops, each providing a specific sound. Candela took full advantage of these far-reaching sonic resources, playing works from different eras by Naji Hakim, Richard K. Fitzgerald, J.S. Bach (two wondrous chorale preludes), Jean Langlais and Marcel Dupré. Hakim’s exciting “The Embrace of Fire” thrashed about with conflicting and echoing layers of sonorities. But most of Sunday’s music was based on ancient church hymns.

 Full review here.

Magnificat Monday – Byrd

Children’s Chant Camps–in the News

Warmest congratulations to Chant Cafe blogger Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, CMAA board member David Hughes, and our colleague at the Cathedral of the Madeleine Gregory Glenn for this wonderful article, and for the groundbreaking accomplishments it celebrates.

Catholic Kids Love Summer ‘Chant Camp’

Flagship “chant camps” on both coasts and in Utah are proving popular.

by Joseph Pronechen, Staff Writer Friday, Aug 22 How do kids feel about participating in a weeklong camp on Gregorian chant?

Flagship “chant camps” on both coasts and in Utah are proving popular.

The summer camp that started in 2010 at St. Anne Church in San Diego has become so popular that this year it had to be held twice.

“The first year, we had 64 kids; last year, 84 children; and this year, 120 between two camps,” said a very pleased Mary Ann Carr-Wilson, the parish’s director of music.
“Word got around, and families got excited about it. It’s formative, beautiful and fun.”

The results inspired filmmakers and parishioners Kristen Von Berg and Daniel diSilva to make a short video called, appropriately, Chant Camp (available on YouTube).

“We were like one big wave, singing in unison for the greater glory of God,” said seventh-grader Sarah Kuss, describing the outcome after the five-day camp.

Wilson, a former opera singer, got the idea after attending an intensive chant workshop presented by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA) and later adapted the idea for children.

As a home-schooling mother of four boys, she also knew that if she asked children “to work hard over the summer, it had to be really fun, too.”

Each day, the children not only learned Gregorian chant in a really enjoyable way, but during the two-hour lunch break, they got to play games and soccer with the priests and seminarians from St. Anne’s and make new friends.

With help from some assistant directors and parent volunteers, clear leadership, and support from the church’s pastor, Father Carl Gismondi of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, Wilson became their coach and cheerleader.

“If you want to make something beautiful for God, it involves the effort of all your mind, heart, soul and strength,” she told the children. “And the kids rise to the occasion. I can’t tell you how much they surprise people.”

Wilson pointed out that, last year, San Diego Bishop Cirilo Flores joined the children for the final Mass, sat with them in the choir in the sanctuary and encouraged the children during his homily.

“When the week culminates in the breathtaking, solemn high Mass, and I know that my children’s voices are part of that glorious hymn rising up to heaven. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for chant camp and even happy for the sacrifices it demands of our family,” observed Katie Walsh, whose five children have attended the last four years.

At the lunch break, the children run around, play football with the priests and laugh like the normal kids they are, Walsh said, “but when they return to the business of learning chant, somehow, in spite of their youth and high-spiritedness, they rise to the challenge.”

Wilson tells the chanters at the start that they are not there to sing for her or their parents, though that’s wonderful, but to sing for Jesus.

“Singing beautifully is not the final goal,” she explained. “Jesus has to be at the center and at the final end of our efforts. We want to encounter him and worship him in singing; and in so doing, we want to build up the Church.”

Wilson has the children learn difficult chants, and she is so proud of their good effort.
“One of the neatest things about the camp is to see the teens helping the younger ones, singing right next to them, so they have a voice to guide them,” Wilson said.

She finds that children want to be taken seriously and recognized for how much they appreciate the music. Wilson wants the children to see that what they are learning can remain part of their devotional life.

Whether it’s Ave Maria or other sacred songs, “these are very powerful prayers our ancestors have sung for hundreds of years,” she tells the participants. “Your patron saints have sung these prayers you are singing.”

She provides translations of everything so they know what they are singing about. This helps them to learn they can be evangelizers through the beauty of the Church’s sacred music.

Nancy Jurkoic found that St. Anne’s Chant Camp gave her three sons “a true love and appreciation for sacred music, even though at the time they were only 8, 10 and 13 years old. They will carry this love in their hearts for the rest of their lives.”

In Salt Lake City, at the Cathedral of the Madeleine, which has 360 students in the choir at the parish school, 87 students attended this year’s camp; the camp is nearly 25 years old.

It’s a bit different than choir during the academic year, according to Gregory Glenn, director for liturgy and music. The camp gives the children a chance to have fun, build up the group’s spirit and learn the chant and polyphony motets and Masses for the coming year.

On the East Coast, David Hughes, choirmaster at St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Conn., is pleased with his camp’s turnout.

For the daily sessions of the weeklong camp, children rehearse, sing for Mass daily and play games outside — but not always.

To his great surprise, he walked through the door of the first chant camp in 2008 to find 35 kids ready and eager.

After an hour of practicing Gregorian chant basics, he said they could take a short break, get water and play some basketball.

What happened next surprised him.

“They all got a drink of water and all sat down again,” Hughes said. He asked them, “Don’t you want to go play?”

He explained the response he received: “One little boy answered, ‘Mr. Hughes, we’re here to learn chant.’”

“The kids were so enthusiastic about singing beautifully and singing to the Lord it seemed a perfectly natural thing to turn this into a full-fledged student schola program that would meet every week,” Hughes said.

Hughes finds the children have “a tremendous enthusiasm for Gregorian chant because they readily perceive both its beauty and its eminent suitability for the sacred liturgy. I believe very strongly that Gregorian chant should be the foundation of any musical education, not only in a theological sense, but also in a pedagogical sense.”

Time and again, he sees “that beauty speaks for itself and that children especially are thirsting for this beauty. When you give them a taste of something truly beautiful, they only want more and more.”

He talks with them about St. Augustine’s maxim: “He who sings well prays twice.”
“I always underline the adverb well (bene),” he said.

St. Mary’s Chant Camp also includes older students who act as counselors, helping with vocal modeling for the younger students.

From older to younger, the children cannot imagine not coming.

“Singing chant helps me lift my heart and mind to God,” said Regina Kelley, who is 12 years old. “The instruction we get at chant camp is amazing.”

Her 8-year-old brother, Ted, added, “I love the singing; I love to see my friends.”

Brother Gus, 10 years old, agreed: “I really like seeing my friends and singing at Mass every day.”

Their mother, Amy Kelley, who is mom to seven current and former chant-campers, sees positive results.

“Too often, we assume children can’t appreciate the true and the beautiful, so we settle for giving them less,” she observed. “That’s a huge mistake. Kids naturally love beauty and gravitate toward it, if given the chance, and the traditional music of the Church is truly good and beautiful. Why shouldn’t learning it in preparation for singing at Mass be a fun summer activity?”

Read more:

On the Feast Day of the Queen

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