Monday, July 28, 2008

Interview with Chant CD Monk

Hat tip to Jeffrey Tucker for posting this excerpt from an interview with a spokesman from Stift Heiligenkreuz, a 12th-century Cistercian monastery near Vienna. The monks there have recorded a chant CD that has hit the top of the charts worldwide. This happened once before with the monks of Santo Domingo de Silos and likely will fade as quickly, but the best part of this go around is that the monks are taking the opportunity to teach about Gregorian chant while they have the limelight. Check out the interview at the SF Chronicle.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Novena for Church Musicians

A little late in getting this posted, but I hope someone catches it in time to start the prayers. Download the Novena to St. Cecilia and start today. It is for the health and well-being of all Church musicians. God Bless.

Novena to St. Cecilia (pdf)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Francisco Guerrero (1528-1599)

Someone recently posted a sound file of Francisco Guerrero's Ave Maria a 4 from the CMAA Colloquium in Chicago. I have performed this numerous times on Renaissance brass but had never sung it until that Mass in Chicago. It is truly a wondrous piece and not all that hard to sing (well, there is the melisma in the altos!).

Guerrero was the most famous composer in Spain during the second half of the 16th century because he served the kingdom's most influential cathedral in Seville. Sure Toledo was the primatial seat, but Seville had the finest musical establishment and whoever was in charge was really important. Guerrero spent his whole career in Spain, unlike Morales and Victoria who made their fames in Rome. Guerrero did travel during the 1580s to the Holy Land and wrote an account of the voyage that includes stories of pirate attacks. His music, more so than Victoria's was the model for later Spanish composers like Alonso Lobo, Juan de Esquivel, and Sebastian de Vivanco. He was particularly gifted at created individual polyphonic lines that often run well into extended ranges for effect. Harmonically modern listeners hear the coming of tonal music, but never introduces chromaticism for cheap effects. He is more known today as a result of recordings made during the anniversary of his death (and Philip II's) in 1999. In particular, his Marian works are exquisite. He was not known as el cantor de Maria for nothing.

Click Here is the sound file of the motet.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Parish Book of Chant

I'm indulging in a little bit of blogging before the real work of preparing classes starts. One of the best things to happen to church music in a long time occurred when the CMAA published The Parish Book of Chant. This is a wonderful little book with lots of chants in it. The book collects just about all the chants a congregation would need for use in either the Ordinary Form (modern Mass in Latin) or the Extraordinary Form (so-called Tridentine Rite). There is a set of Ordinaries (Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) and chant hymns. The great thing is that all the Latin comes with English translations. This is so important since the restoration of Latin to the Latin Rite must be done so that folks know what they are singing and hearing. Also there are basic missals for the older and newer Rites (Latin/English) included. Thanks to the CMAA and Richard Rice for compiling and publishing this. I highly recommend this to everyone interested in chant and its restoration to parish life. Keep in mind that this book is a PEW book. The choir/schola still needs music from the Graduale (or Liber Usualis) to sing the Propers of the Mass or Vespers.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

CMAA Colloquium

Just returned from summer travels so I now have time to put up a particularly nice image from the CMAA Chant and Polyphony Colloquium that was held in Chicago in June. There were about 250 participants this year with abilities ranging from novice to expert chanters. The participants were sorted into 4 polyphonic choirs that sang Masses and motets by principally Spanish composers this year. Naturally I was in heaven! In addition to preparing Masses and one Vespers, there were classes on chant conducting, singing techniques, and sessions for priests. If that was not enough, the people were fabulous. I met lots of new friends and connected with folks I met last year. Even the most highly accomplished musicians were friendly willing to help those just starting. Good people. The image you see here is the entire group with chant masters William Mahrt and Scott Turkington preparing for Mass in the Loyola chapel.