31 December 2011
The feast of St Helen is a 3rd Class feast in Liverpool and Salford, and St Helen is the co-titular of Brentwood Cathedral, so it is celebrated in that Cathedral as well (First Class). St Helen, the finder of the True Cross and mother of the Emperor Constantine, was, of course, said to be a British princess. Britain played an important part in her son's life, since he was proclaimed Emperor at York; he went on to vindicate his claims in the ensuing civil war, and make Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Evelyn Waugh's historical novel 'Helena' is a thoroughly enjoyable re-telling of St Helen's legend.
If anyone has information about other diocesan feasts, or the chant settings of any other diocesan feasts, please let me know! I am anxious to find
Bl Adrian Fortescue (Birmingham diocese, 11th July)
Our Lady in Porticu (Cardiff and Menevia, 17th July)
Bl Hugh More (Nottingham, 1st September)
St Hilda (Westminster, Birmingham, Clifton, Northhampton, Nottingham, 17th November).
Others I have found I will publish in due course.
29 December 2011
These feasts become problematic when they have special texts composed for them. The texts themselves are not difficult to find - diocesan supplements for the altar missals exist, and they are all there in the Baronius Press missal - but when the text need to be sung, one needs to have the chant setting. And these do not seem to be widely available, if at all.
Here is the Introit being sung by the Schola Abelis of Oxford; there are more videos of the propers of this Mass here.
As a service to readers I have uploaded a booklet of these propers to the Latin Mass Society website, and you can download them here:
Bishop Fisher and Thomas More were canonised in 1935, and I have found their new Mass pasted into the back of an old Liber Usualis I own, with an Imprimatur dated 1936. Even more conveniently, it is to be found in the Graduale Romanum's appendix 'Masses for Certain Places', including the Gradual scanned by the Church Music Association of America. Here is this Mass:
All sorts of things can be found pasted into the back of old Libers, or loose within its pages: St Joan of Arc, St Joseph the Workman, and other things obviously added to the calendar since the date of the printing of that particular Liber. Clearly these little booklets were made available when the Mass texts and melodies were published. What I have never seen, however, in an official supplement or pasted in somewhere, are the proper chants for diocesan feasts, in cases where these are not simply borrowed from other feasts and commons. I shall be posting about some of these later.
19 December 2011
The launch meeting was widely reported and was addressed by Colin Mawby, the distinguished composer and former Director of Music at Westminster Cathedral.
The next meeting is now well in preparation, and will take place on Saturday, 18th February 2012, at the London Oratory (the St Wilfrid Hall and the Little Oratory). It will be addressed by James MacMillan, another Catholic composer deeply concerned about, and practically involved in, chant. The Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Mennini, will join us and lead Vespers in the Little Oratory.
The meeting is an internal meeting of the GCN and as such it is invitation only. The directors of all our affiliated choirs and scholas are automatically invited, as are representatives from our 'supporter' organisations: the Latin Mass Society, the Association for Latin Liturgy, the Schola Gregoriana, Una Voce Scotland, and the St Catherine's Trust. Others involved with the chant have been invited as before. Anyone with a Catholic choir or schola can naturally get an invitation by affiliating.
For those who have received invitations, don't forget to reply!
17 December 2011
|The Juventutem London Schola, in the sanctuary at St Patrick's Soho Square.|
One of the features of the group is a particular love of Solemn Mass, ie Mass with celebrant, deacon and subdeacon. It should always be remembered that, although Missa Cantata and and Low Mass are indispensible elements in parish life, it is Solemn Mass which is the normative form of Mass, giving it the full honour which is its due. Solemn Mass in the Extraordinary Form is extraordinarily beautiful, with many ceremonies which are cut down, or omitted, in Missa Cantata. Obviously a choir is necessary for Solemn Mass, and after some experimentation and development (including a couple of Masses accompanied by the Schola Abelis, who had travelled from Oxford for the occasion), the London Juventutem group has now established a schola of its own, which even has a blog.
|Polyphonists at the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford, with the Juventutem London Schola.|
Its director is Matthew Schellhorn, a professional pianist and the Latin Mass Society Representative for Southwark North. The Juventuetem Masses are monthly, on the last Saturday of each month, and alternative months are sung with polyphony. The core of the choir is however a small chant schola, led by Matthew and drawn from the young congregation. They can also on occasion sing elsewhere, and did so at the LMS Pilgrimage to Aylesford. They have joined the GCN and have been added to the list of affiliates and the map.
|The chant schola singing during communion at Aylesford (at the back of the photo).|
Get in touch with them by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
16 December 2011
|Our Lady of Willesden. The shrine image is carved out of a medieval timber from the ancient shrine, and crowned by Papal mandate. One of England's great medieval shrines, it was re-established in the 20th Century.|
One of their first Masses was for the Latin Mass Society Annual Pilgrimage to Willesden on 29th October. They have also sung for the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham.
The schola has joined the GCN and been added to our list of affiliates and the map. You can use this email address to contact them: email@example.com.
10 October 2011
PMMS Annual Conference ‘Music and Death before 1650’, Oxford, 10 March 2012
Next year’s Annual Conference will take place in Oxford at the Faculty of Music (St Aldate’s) on 10 March 2012. The event is co-organized by Elizabeth Eva Leach, Owen Rees and Catharine Bradley and will focus on the theme of ‘Music and Death before 1650’. Speakers will include, among others, Margaret Bent, Fabrice Fitch, Leofranc Holford-Strevens and Owen Rees.
Further particulars will be made available soon on the PMMS website (www.plainsong.org.uk), the PMMS Facebook group and the newsletter – so watch this space!
‘From Text to Performance: medieval vernacular music in the 21st century’, Birmingham University, Barber Institute, 26 March 2011
The 2011 annual PMMS conference, organised by Mary O’Neill of the Centre for Early Music Performance & Research, as its title implies centred very much around questions of musical performance informed by scholarship; as such, it followed a workshop held at the Barber Institute on the previous day which unfortunately only a few conference participants had been able to attend.
Benjamin Bagby of Ensemble Sequentia opened the symposium with a presentation on his current project of performing the Beowulf epic, describing his attempts to reconstruct or re-imagine how this poem might have been sung. He described his experimental reconstruction of an early medieval Anglo-Saxon harp, its possible shape, range, tuning, and number of strings, based on observations of medieval mode, iconographic evidence, and deductions from the physical characteristics of wood and gut; this was complemented by observations on metre, rhyme, declamation and rhetorical aspects of the poem itself which informed the melodic shape and phrasing of his realisation. A demonstration of a section from the epic in which all these elements were brought together concluded the presentation.
Bagby’s presentation was followed by two papers on troubadours and trouvères; Peter Ricketts approached the topic from a philologist’s perspective, providing insights into his vast experience as an editor of medieval Occitan poetry and his occasional contacts with musicologists and performers attempting to come to terms with a repertoire much of which survives without musical notation. He deplored both the lack of real collaboration between textual and musical scholars in editing this repertoire and the lack of communication between philologists and performers, often leading to egregious errors in pronunciation, style, and mode of delivery. In her paper ‘From the scribe to the listener: some issues in Old French, Occitan and Galician-Portuguese song’, Mary O’Neill approached the same topic from the musical side; she pointed out even where musical notation does survive (which is the case for the Galician/Portuguese cantigas, far less so for Occitan poetry), one principal issue remains unresolved: while the pitches are straightforward to transcribe, the rhythms in non-mensural notation remain open to substantial interpretation by musicologists and modern-day performers. By giving a survey of previous and current approaches to this issue, she demonstrated how far scholarship still is from providing a robust underpinning to the practical execution of this repertoire.
After lunch, Uri Smilansky took a source-based approach to the question of performing 14th-century song in his paper entitled ‘Thinking, doing, feeling: ars subtilior and expression in medieval music’. Drawing on his own experience as a performer, he argued that there is much more to be gleaned from the page of a polyphonic music manuscript than pitches and rhythms; in particular, he demonstrated impressively how rhythmic-melodic gestures, in the way they occupy both musical space and the space on the written page, ‘translate’ the expression of the poetic text in a way which is immediately comprehensible to both performers and listeners. A counterpoint to this presentation was provided by Ian Rumbold who gave an overview over the repertoire of secular polyphony in the ‘St Emmeram’ codex (Munich, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Clm 14274) of c. 1440; Rumbold described the way in which German and French song, originals and contrafacta, local and international repertoire rubbed shoulders in this highly idiosyncratic collection of the German priest and scholar Hermann Pötzlinger.
The day was brought to a close by John Potter’s observations on ‘Finding a voice: a medieval singer in the 21st century’. Postulating a disjunction between musicologists who were, in his view, searching for absolute historical ‘truth’, and performers who were searching for artistic viability in the present, he charted his journey from a practitioner of ‘historically informed practice’ via his work on 19th-century singing styles to his recent and current experiments in the ‘Being Dufay’ project with the composer Ambrose Field where he had performed re-composed and re-imagined songs (and fragments of songs) by Guillaume Dufay for voice and electronics. Like the day as a whole, Potter’s presentation and the spirited discussion which followed it demonstrated how even after more than half a century of ‘HIP’ (and a discourse between scholars and performers which has been going on for much longer), much work is still to be done – some of it even fundamental – in finding truly common ground between the study of music and its performance.
15 September 2011
Farm Street Church,
114 Mount Street, London W1,
at 6.30 pm each Tuesday from 27th September to 13th December, except 15th November.
Directed by Dr. Peter Wilton, B. Ed (Hons), M Mus., Editor of chant for the Office of Vespers for Westminster Cathedral Choir..
Practical instruction includes: Music of the New English Missal, Chant performance, Music for the Mass and Daily Offices, English and Latin texts.
Anyone able to sing in tune is welcome, with or without chant experience.
£5 per evening, or £50 for the term. Enquiries to: Mr. G. Macartney, Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, 26 The Grove, Ealing, London, W5 5LH 020 8840 5832 (answerphone when out).
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
02 August 2011
It includes the two videos I posted earlier, showing the sequence of events leading up to the singing of the Sanctus and to the Agnus Dei.
The guide, while not infallible, has been pored over by a number of singers and rubricists, and it is to be hoped that it will prove useful to singers less familiar with the Extraordinary Form (the Traditional Mass) when called upon to accompany it, and even those who wish to confirm their instincts. It increasingly happens that a parish choir is asked to provide singing for a traditional Requiem or a Mass for some special occasion, and while mastering the chants is one issue exactly what they are expected to do and when is quite another!
28 July 2011
I challenge anyone to deny that the chant versions are more prayerful.
02 July 2011
These videos illustrate it nicely, partly because my (extremely rudimentary) camcorder was nice and close to both the schola and the celebrant. This is a Solemn Mass; a Missa Cantata, without deacon and subdeacon, is exactly the same in terms of the short sung dialogue between the priest and the congregation (the latter led by the schola), which preceeds these chants.
I was once in a chant schola which was singing alongside a separate polyphonic choir. We were in the nave and they were in the choir loft. Not being familiar with the sequence of events, they actually failed completely to sing the Agnus Dei...
In the video the priest uses the 'Most Solemn Tone'; this is one of the more unusual tones. For the 'Common tones of the Mass' see the Liber Usualis from p98.
The priest is Fr Aldo Tapparo, Parish Priest of St Anthony of Padua in Headington, Oxford. This splendid Mass was in celebration of his church's 50th Anniversary. The deacon was Fr Anton Webb and the subdeacon Br Nicholas Edmonds-Smith, both of the nearby Oxford Oratory. I've put up more about this Mass here.
I have been working on a 'Guide to Scholas' to cover the whole of Mass, explaining what they should sing and when, which I hope will be ready to go onto the LMS website soon.
15 June 2011
St Catharine's College, Main Court and Chapel
THE HOURS: A 24-Hour Celebration of World Sacred Music
with Sound Installation by Jonathan Green and Edward Wickham
about THE HOURS:
The Hours is a 24-hour collage of sound and live performance devised by Jonathan Green and Edward Wickham, in association with award-winning vocal ensemble The Clerks.
The Hours celebrates the impulse to pray and to praise; an impulse shared by the faithful of all the world religions, and one which has inspired the finest art, literature and music.
Drawing on the universal poetry of the Psalms, The Hours presents multifarious sounds, voices and music in a tapestry which is at times abstract, and at times intensely direct and human.
The sound installation provides the backdrop for live performances by Cambridge-based groups; including a ‘Come and Sing’ event open to singers of all ages, ability and experience. In the final hour, the diverse elements of the collage coalesce into a live performance featuring Taverner’s sumptuous Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas, whose dense, polyphonic lines have previously been heard fragmentarily.
“one of the most inventive early music groups around” Musical Opinion
“a new side of early music'” Daily Telegraph
• The Hours sound installation will run continuously in Main Court throughout the 24 hours.
• Performances by Chela/Buska (Georgian choir); Harmonia Alcorani (Muslim choir); chant from Jewish and Hindu traditions: details to be confirmed
Wednesday 22 June
1900-1930: The Hours launches with the office of Luminaria
sung by the St Catharine’s Girls’ Choir and Egyptian soprano Merit Ariane Stephanos;
featuring the World Premiere of a new work melding Western and Middle Eastern chant by Jonathan Green.
2100: Performance by Kol Echad (Jewish Community Choir)
2130: Performance by Chela (Georgian Choir)
2200-2245: Compline for the eve of Corpus Christi (Gregorian chant)
Thursday 23 June
0200-0330: Matins for Corpus Christi (Gregorian chant)
0700-0730: Lauds for Corpus Christi (Gregorian chant)
1630-1715: Global Harmony: a ‘Come and Sing’ session of sacred songs from different traditions
led by Rowena Whitehead and Talking in Tune Singers
Everyone is welcome, whatever your previous singing experience to add your voice to the rich and inspiring harmonies.
1800-1900: Final concert: Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas by John Taverner
sung by award-winning vocal ensemble The Clerks
Admission to all aspects of The Hours is free.
You can register your interest in the Come and Sing event in advance by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org;
you can also simply join in on the day.
Tickets for the final performance (limited) can be reserved by contacting email@example.com.
14 June 2011
From Neville McNally:
The Gregorian Chant Course concluded with a memorable final Workshop on Saturday last at St John’s Cathedral, Portsmouth.
The day followed a similar format to the previous 7 Workshops with participants dividing into 2 groups under the direction of Abbot Cuthbert Brogan OSB and Christopher Hodkinson. The participants prepared the chant for Mass of the Vigil of Pentecost which was celebrated by Abbot Cuthbert and sung to a very high standard.
At the beginning of the day everyone was given a Final Questionnaire, which was a follow-up to the Questionnaire issued at the first Workshop. For those who have participated in the Course and were unable to attend the final Workshop, but who would like to comment, I enclose a copy of the Final Questionnaire. Once completed, please return it to me as soon as you can.
The Workshop concluded with a discussion forum which gave an opportunity for questions and answers. Plenty of points were raised which included comments on the Course, ideas for continuing practice of the chant and how to reach a wider and younger audience. There was also a lot of interest in participating in a future course.
Finally, gratitude was expressed to Abbot Cuthbert and Christopher for their contributions to making the course such a success; and to the Cathedral Administrator, Canon Hopgood, for allowing us to use St John’s Cathedral and Hall.
If you would be interested in a similar course in the future, then please contact us:
11 June 2011
In this half-day workshop, in the oldest church in the City of York, we will learn and sing some of the most beautiful hymns, antiphons & psalms in the repertory of Gregorian Chant. We will immerse ourselves in the history, sound, technique and language of this ancient musical style, working toward an authentic and beautiful performance of Compline [The Night Office] at the end of the day.
All materials (scores and helpful resources) are included in the cost of the day. Beginners and more advanced singers are welcome. Registration Fee: £6.50 – £5.00 for Students. It would be helpful if you could register in advance, as this will give us an idea how music & other source materials to prepare!
To register please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone (01904) 341853.
02 June 2011
[W]e always have to ask ourselves: Who is the true subject of the liturgy? The answer is simple: the Church. It is not the individual or the group that celebrates the liturgy, but it is primarily God's action through the Church with its history, its rich tradition, and its creativity. The liturgy, and thus sacred music, 'lives from a correct and constant relationship between healthy traditio and legitimate progressio'...
There is more on the Vatican Information Service blog; I can't find the letter on the Vatican website yet. It is frustrating not to be able to see the whole letter.
30 May 2011
"For prayer that issues from the word of God, speech is not enough: music is required. Two chants from the Christian liturgy come from biblical texts in which they are placed on the lips of angels: the ‘Gloria,’ which is sung by the angels at the birth of Jesus, and the ‘Sanctus,’ which according to Isaiah 6 is the cry of the seraphim who stand directly before God. Christian worship is therefore an invitation to sing with the angels, and thus to lead the word to its highest destination.[...] From this perspective one can understand the seriousness of a remark by Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, who used an expression from the Platonic tradition handed down by Augustine, to pass judgement on the poor singing of monks, which for him was evidently very far from being a mishap of only minor importance. He describes the confusion resulting from a poorly executed chant as a falling into the ‘regio dissimilitudinis,’ the ‘zone of dissimilarity’ [...], into a remoteness from God, in which man no longer reflects Him, and so has become dissimilar not only to God, but to himself, to what being human truly is. Bernard is certainly putting it strongly when he uses this phrase, which indicates man’s falling away from himself, to describe bad singing by monks. But it shows how seriously he viewed the matter. It shows that the culture of singing is also the culture of being, and that the monks have to pray and sing in a manner commensurate with the grandeur of the word handed down to them, with its claim on true beauty. This intrinsic requirement of speaking with God and singing of Him with words He Himself has given, [texts of Sacred Scripture] is what gave rise to the great tradition of Western music. It was not a form of private ‘creativity’, in which the individual leaves a memorial to himself and makes self-representation his essential criterion. Rather it is about vigilantly recognizing with the ‘ears of the heart’ the inner laws of the music of creation, the archetypes of music that the Creator built into his world and into men, and thus discovering music that is worthy of God, and at the same time truly worthy of man, music whose worthiness resounds in purity.”
It is an internal quotation from an article discussed by Fr John Zuhlsdorf, which notes, alas, that the Holy Father has not, so far, done much in the musical field as Pope, despite his evident interest in the matter and the powerful things he has said about it.
09 May 2011
07 May 2011
A group of about 20 singers attended all or part of the advanced singers' sessions with Dom Lelièvre, in which he introduced propers for the Masses and Vespers which were to be sung. He approached it from the Graduale Triplex, but showed us photocopies of the manuscripts upon which the Triplex is based. He also discussed the history of the modern chant editions: the 1908 Vatican edition of the Graduale Romanum, and the Antiphonales of 1912 and 1932. New editions, based on the research which has built up over the last century, are now finally appearing.
But above all we sang the pieces. Dom Lelièvre is an engaging teacher, with a complete mastery of the Gregorian canon and great sensitivity to its interpretation. His approach places the text first: he urged us to understand the text and pray it from our hearts as we sang. The melodies serve the text, and not the other way round. His interpretation was the opposite of mechanical and rigid; some issues simply depend on the accoustics of the church, for example. We had to watch his marvellously expressive hands while we sang - ideally, he said, we should know the piece by heart.
Not only was it a very interesting two days from a musical point of view, but it was a great gathering of singers from all over the South East of England and even overseas. It was organised with great efficiency by Candy Bartoldus who directs the choir at Spanish Place.
See more photos here.
03 May 2011
1. Saturday 21st May: 12.00 St Dunstan's Church, St Dunstan's Street, Canterbury CT2 8LS
'The Angelus, the Ave and the Salve' for St. Dunstan. rehearse in the church at 11.30, sing at 12.00. The service lasts about 10 minutes. Cost: free
2. Saturday 28th May: Workshop day with Philip Duffy (Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge) on the First Vespers for the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary from English sources the 13th century Worcester Antiphoner and the Hereford Breviary. 10-5.30 at St. Thomas's Church, Burgate, Canterbury CT1 2HJ; includes a visit to Canterbury Cathedral Archives for a talk on mediaeval music manuscripts and a small exhibition of documents.
We will sing the Vespers in St. Thomas's Church at 5pm.
Cost members £15, non-members £30.
Further information on website www.gregoriansociety.org. or email email@example.com
14 April 2011
Gregorian Chant with
Dom Yves-Marie Lelièvre, Choirmaster
Abbaye Saint-Pierre de Solesmes, France
St. James’s Roman Catholic Church, Spanish Place
Dom Yves-Marie Lelièvre will be lead instructor of a Gregorian Chant Workshop at St. James’s 5-8 May 2011. Participants will be singing under his direction.
Everyone is welcome to attend the following:
5 May (Thursday): 5.00 pm Vespers and 8.30 pm Compline
7 May (Friday): 8.30 am Mass, 5.15 pm Vespers, and
8.30 pm Compline
8 May (Saturday): 1.15 Sext , 4.30 pm Vespers and
6.00 pm Mass
Advanced workshop sessions are full, but spaces may be available for the Friday (10 am-12 pm) class on singing Liturgy of Hours and Saturday beginners class.
For more information: Contact Candy Bartoldus (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call the Rectory at 020 7935 0943.