Thursday, 16 October 2008

Singing opportunities for choirs in church.

I find York at times a very frustrating city to live in. In fact I would go as far as to say that despite its historical importance as a religious centre, it's a very secular/liberal city, especially when it comes to church matters [of all denominations] as far as I can tell. More especially when it comes to music and liturgy or what passes for it!

Not convinced? Those of you reading this who are from the immediate area [or know it] just take a look around you. Where are the opportunities for people to sing sacred music, in church, on a regular basis?

Before I continue, let me say that this isn't an exclusive Latin Catholic rant. Members of other denominations, please feel free to chip in via the comments section with your own thoughts on the matter! If you've looked at the Rudgate Website you'll see that despite our Catholic leanings & history, we actually exist to sing quality music usually only heard on CDs or in concerts in its original liturgical setting, regardless of denomination. This is reflected in our singing members, who come from all over the north of Britain. On our 'books' at the moment we have Catholics, Anglicans, Orthodox, Methodists and others who don't belong to any Christian Church/community at all but just like singing the music. We've even had a Buddhist who was quite fascinated to hear Gregorian Chant, especially in it's proper context!

Before I get completely sidetracked though, let's return to the main thread. What opportunities are there for choirs, or people who would like to sing this music.

Forget the Minster. That's professional. Nothing wrong at all with that, but I'm thinking principally about amateurs, particularly as there isn't a lot of money floating around at the moment. The only other C of E choir that sings regularly to my knowledge is St Olave's - Marygate [Any others out there? Please let me know!]

What of the Catholics?

The only place I know of is English Martyrs, where our Schola Cantorum sing on a monthly basis. It's fair to say that a very good group of singers from the parish met to sing an excellent Mass by Palestrina in the Ordinary From back in June, and we ourselves will be singing there
later this month - a repeat of the music we sang in Brinkburn Priory in September. But these are special events. Why can't this music be sung more regularly?

You may wonder what provoked me to write about this. Well, I was at a concert last weekend sung by the excellent Ebor Singers. Whilst I admit to being a fan and regular supporter of theirs, they're not the only choir in York that sings wonderful music which needs to be heard in its proper context. It bugs me that this isn't the case, as you may have gathered by now!

This city has many wonderful talented musicians, not to mention an excellent musical Department at the University. The National Centre for Early Music is based here. Early music CD's are very popular, witnessed by the very recent fact that a CD of Gregorian Chant by the Monks of Stift Heiligenkreuz topped Clasical Album charts worldwide and even made the top ten of the pop charts - yes, you read that correctly, the pop charts[!] in the UK. And yet, it's nigh on impossible to find quality liturgical music sung anywhere except on special occasions.

Why is this so?

Can anything be done about it?

Answers please via the comments box!

1 comment:

Berenike said...

There's "how to start a garage schola" out there on t'interweb somewhere. The Evangelium conference had NO Mass and compline sung in chant (and partly in polyphony) - so people had some more exposure. In Poland most weekday Masses have hymns and the ordinary sung: easy matter to teach people the ferial ordinaries (there's that v. short and nice "free-floating" Agnus in the kyriale as well) - in the UK there may be grumbling if you introduce singing during the week,but perhaps at the evening Mass in city centre churches?