Thursday, July 03, 2008

IMSLP / Petrucci Music Library

Maybe you knew about this site already, but I didn't.

Same premise as CPDL but with tons of instrumental stuff.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Colloquium 2008

I have thoroughly enjoyed sleeping in my own bed and hugging my children, but I wish I could have left my ears in Chicago. Some of the music that I heard last week was a true foretaste of the heavenly banquet . . .

Kudos to all those who worked to make the Colloquium as fabulous as it was. Nearly everything was wonderful.

Here's what I've taken from the experience:

1) I need to improve my organ skills. I feel like such a hack compared to some of the wonderful organists that played for our liturgies. Some of the improvisations were just exquisite . . . yeesh, I need to practice more.

2) I need to improve my compositional skills. I really only arrange/compose anything out of necessity, and often in haste. Being able to spend a week with some of the pieces that we performed (and some of the wonderful new music of Kevin Allen), I realized that I need to be more of a craftsman and less of a "Oh crap, I've got rehearsal in 2 hours and I haven't written that setting of the Gospel Acclamation verse that I was supposed to do yesterday!" -type composer. Do I have the patience for something more is the question . . .

3) We need to target the children. Hearing stories of children singing multiple settings of the Gregorian Ordinaries never seeks to amaze me, though I certainly don't doubt children's abilities. If any real change is going to happen liturgically and especially musically, then solutions will have to be long-term, and it needs to start with the young'uns. I've been pondering the idea of starting a children's chant schola here in my area for the past couple years . . . this week has been a good kick in the butt to start the ball rolling.

4) Homeschoolers love chant! Holy cow, there were a lot of homeschooled folks there! I went out for pizza one night with a random group and five of the ten there were homeschooled (through high school to boot!). It's no secret that the homeschooling movement has been growing exponentially as has the "CMAA" movement; it seems that they have intersected!

Much more, of course, but that's the only things I can think of at this late hour (well past my bedtime). Thanks again to the CMAA for hosting a wonderful, inspiring week!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Easter 5 through Pentecost

Well, I'm making myself post this for the sake of finishing what I started; honestly, I haven't had the inclination to blog for awhile . . .

Easter 5

Offertory: Jubilate Deo (Lassus)

Communion: Tanto tempore (chant)
Panis Angelicus (Palestrina)

We did the offertory w/ a quartet. I took it way faster than we'd rehearsed it, but it was actually thrilling, now that it's over. : ) The Panis is wonderful (though I still question that it's Palestrina); I wish an SATB score of it would go up at CPDL (last time I checked, only a TTBB version was there).

Easter 6

Offertory: If Ye Love Me (Tallis--TTBB)

Communion: Non vos relinquam (chant)
O Lord, with Wondrous Mystery (Andriessen--SA)

I was out of town this weekend (5-year wedding anniversary), but I heard that the choir did well in my absence. I like the original scoring of the Tallis better and I was sad that I didn't get to hear it. The Andriessen is a nice text and haunting melody, and easily prepared.


Offertory: Ascendit Deus (Palestrina)

Communion: Data est mihi (chant)
God Has Gone Up with a Shout (Weidner)

Our last choir Sunday of the semester. The Palestrina was done by a quintet. This was probably the fourth Offertory setting of his that we did this year, and man, are they fun! Not easy, but very rewarding.

The Weidner (published by Paraclete) is great. Very Anglican, but I did it anyway. : ) This was the first time all year that we had all of our active members and the sound was thrilling! Gosh, if I could have that group every Sunday . . .


Offertory: Confirma hoc, Deus (Handl--TTBB)

Communion: Factus est (chant)

The Handl piece was done w/ a quartet (again, choir was done). I'm fascinated by Handl's counterpoint; very unique among his contemporaries it seems.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Confirmations are over....


Confirmations were a bit of a hectic affair this year. We had 150 or so confirmandi, two of whom were choir members, so I’ve been organizing surprise gifts/cards for them.

We pulled out the Lowenberg “Pentecost Prayer” again. That’s a cool piece, but a few of the lines and chords are tricky. It’s not super-melodic, but harmonically very nice. The organ part is sort of a mini-fantasia on “Veni Creator”. I had the sopranos sing the “Veni Creator” melody once (in Latin) before the hymn, so hopefully a few out there might recognize the connection.

Another trick I tried, to great success, was having a guitar strum (a single time) the chord changes in a psalm-tone responsorial psalm. (My own, à la Guimont.) A harp would be more ideal, but the guitar wasn’t too bad.

Nothing that remarkable otherwise.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Some things just aren’t supposed to happen.

I have the joy of having made a few pretty close friends down here—close, that is, for having known them less than a year and a half.

Anyway, one of them (let’s call him “Chris”) suffered a tragic-beyond-words loss in his family recently. His younger sister (let’s call her “Mary”), days after graduating from college, with a serious boyfriend-future-husband eager to propose in a few months, and plans to start a Ph.D. program in the fall, died in a fatal car accident. A tow truck was speeding and broadsided her car. She died some hours later from brain injuries.

It’s the kind of thing that’s just not supposed to happen. Mary was someone who, by all indications, brought a lot of joy to those around her. Someone about whom you might say, if the world had more people like that, we’d all be better off.

I attended Mary’s funeral today. I never actually met her (was there to support Chris), but the sense of how special a person she was was very palpable. I found myself choked up for a while....which I’m not exactly sure why. Maybe seeing how sad Chris and his girlfriend (who knew Mary) were and feeling powerless to help? Or, maybe reminded subconsciously of my own recent family loss, which was not a tragedy at all but still hard.

Ironically, she had told a friend of hers only weeks ago what music she wanted at her wedding. Those music plans were the basis of the funeral music today. So, this was the first funeral where I ever heard, or sang, Ubi caritas. Or where I sang the Kyrie, Sanctus, and Agnus Dei from the “Jubilate Deo Mass”. (The deceased wanted Gregorian chant at her wedding.....did I mention that the world needs more people like her?)

I wonder, poetically maybe, if the wedding music was appropriate for the funeral, but that she is being married after all, and instead of to a guy who will leave his socks out and forget to take the garbage out, to the best Groom a girl could ever find.

Requiescat in pace.

Monday, May 19, 2008

We do change, don’t we....

Every now and again I read the early posts I made on this blog, and I am struck by how I personally seem to have “mellowed” in the past couple of years.

It’s not that my views on many things have changed, but I am less of a zealot about them, more conscientious of how far it will take for us to go until “Our Lady of Averageparishness” (ok, that’s a stretch...) will accept things like a sung dialogue Mass, or choir-only introit/offertory/communion. (Tace, please, those of you here who contest the prudence of these practices.)

BTW, we missed posting about this blog’s 2-year anniversary, which came about back in March. Thank you to those of you who still read what we write here, though it is less abundant than at some times in the past. (For myself, I often feel the urge to opine in fits and starts.)

Wednesday, May 07, 2008


I think I have it.

I have figured out what “feels wrong” to me about, say, Tom Booth “Find Us Ready” at Mass, or even just “One Bread, One Body”:

here it is.....

What is at odds between some types of music and the nature of the liturgy is the lack of formality present in the environs that society associates with the music’s characteristics.

Even a cursory glance at the Roman liturgy will reveal a great deal of formality in these rites. Almost everything is structured and planned. Vestments are described in the documents with words like “dignified”. Even the materials to be used for the vessels are specified.

In how many environments in American society do we find guitars in use in formal environments? Some, to be sure, but they are the exceptions rather than the rule. Guitars are “cool”, and formality is rarely “cool”.

How many people would hear Tom Booth’s “Like the Bread” and think of something as formal as the text of the Gloria? (And even the current English translation uses language quite far removed from everyday speech!)

It’s not a value judgement of the music, but these are sounds that don’t really accord, in our society at least, with the formality of the liturgy.