Friday, 26 June 2009

Music Workshops

After having experienced drivel masquerading as Liturgical Music in so-called 'choir festivals' back in the 1980's, this comes across as a very refreshing change!

How long will it be before our own musicians can be persuaded to do something along similar lines?

Many thanks to Joseph Shaw for spotting the link.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

A Tale of two Chant Performances

Last weekend I went down to London for the Annual High Mass of the LMS. Much of what went on has already been reported here and here, so I'm not going to regale you with another version of official events, but instead offer my thoughts on the music.

The choir of Westminster Cathedral are renowned world-wide for the quality and standard of their musicianship, as can recently be evidenced by the Installation of Archbishop Nichols, so it was a shame, but not totally unexpected that we only got the Lay Clerks this year. Even though there was no Cardinal this time, surely it would have been fitting to hire the full choir for the principal Mass of the LMS's year? Money, I'm fairly certain, shouldn't have been an issue - should it? :-)

Back to the music. The Ordinary of the Mass was Duruflé's Missa 'Cum Jubilo' with the Chant Propers for the Saturday Mass of the BVM. I have to admit that I felt thoroughly deflated. My friend, roydosan who I stayed with for the weekend, offers his thoughts here. Normally I would agree, but if the Chant Mass suggested was sung as operatically as the Propers were on Saturday, I'd have been tempted to stick cotton wool in my ears and just follow the Mass visually! Honestly, it felt like listening to Pavarotti! I've sung in Westminster Cathedral myself, and whilst not a professional singer, am certainly no mug, and definitely don't think the music, particularly the Chant, came across at all well.

Now, on to Sunday. As roydosan had never been to a Byzantine Catholic Liturgy before, we decided to go to the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral in the morning - a much more satisfying experience! The choir sang music which I am largely familiar with, so I felt quite at home here. I particularly enjoyed listening to the old man in front of me singing from memory - and in time - the Bass line to some of the major choral parts of the Liturgy, even though the choir were in another part of the building!

After a brief visit to St Patrick's, Soho Square, a quite outstanding church, and lunch in Chinatown, we ended up at the Oratory for Sunday Vespers & Benediction. This was simply superb, marred only by the woman in the front pew who insisted on standing throughout Benediction when everyone else, including clergy of course were kneeling...

My faith in the singing of Gregorian Chant was completely restored, not only because the Oratory Choir proved that you don't have to sing like one of the Three Tenors[!], but also because of the tempi at which the psalms in particular were sung. I've often been accused of singing chant far too quickly, but after hearing this performance (also sung by professionals btw), I feel completely vindicated. :-) If anyone accuses me of singing too quickly now, I can just reply by saying "well, the London Oratory Choir chants just as quickly, if not quicker." Thanks, guys!

Sunday was super (It's a shame that Saturday's experience was so disappointing), and has inspired me to make Sunday Vespers in York actually happen instead of just thinking about it, which I've been doing for far too long now! It's my intention that this will become the main Rudgate Schola service at Bishophill from September instead of Compline. (You saw it here first!) I'll decide on a time later, when I find out what's happening with the York TLM also scheduled to restart in September, as I don't want the services to clash for the obvious reason that I'm likely to be involved in both of them! I do quite like the idea of 3.30pm though, as is the custom in London.

That's it for now - back to nursing the blisters I acquired whilst walking around London at the weekend...

Monday, 22 June 2009

Reminder. Missa Cantata *this* Saturday!

For those of you able to go, we have a Missa Cantata this Saturday at 3pm in the church of St Alphonsus, North Ormesby, Middlesbrough for the Patronal Feast of the Diocese, Our Lady of Perpetual Succour. The Mass will be sung by the full choir who will sing Palestrina's Missa 'Veni Sponsa Christi' with motets by Elgar and Croce. The Gregorian Chant Propers for the feast will be sung, and the Mass will conclude with the singing of the Solemn Salve Regina.

Please do come if you can, and encourage others to do so!

A further note: we desperately need servers for this Mass! Please email me via the choir's link if you are able to serve.

Thank you.