Saturday, December 5, 2015

My Latest Inspiration in Church Music

Just before I took the reins at Sacred Heart in April, 2011, I had two chances to finally hear the choir at Saint Paul Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts (home of the famous St. Paul Choir School, founded by the late great Theodore Marier).  The young and very able John Robinson came in from England to take the reins there about a year before that.  I wish I would have been able to get to hear them back in Ted Marier's day.  However, I was more than elated and awed at the sound of the men's choir under Robinson (the boys were on vacation that week from the Choir School).  A few weeks later, I did get to hear the full men and boys choir.  It worked out that my daughter had tickets to see a couple of her favorite bands at a hall in Cambridge on a Sunday afternoon, so I said, "Well, let's go to the 11:00 Mass at St. Paul's while we're out that way."  It was absolutely beautiful.

It is the Psalm settings of Ted Marier (along with Sam Schmitt and Peter Latona) that has inspired my style of Psalm writing as of late, and it is reflecting thus.

The Church of Our Savior in New York City has another excellent young music director, Paul Murray, who was a product of St. Paul's (back in Marier's day, I believe - Paul, if you're reading this, correct me if I'm wrong, please), and it shows very nicely.

A couple of years before that, the Salt Lake City (Utah) diocese had a podcast up where you could watch the live streaming of Holy Mass at the Cathedral of the Madeleine.  They too have an active choir school (their choir school is co-ed, while St. Paul's is all-boys), and an excellent music program.  I like to consider the Cathedral of the Madeleine being to the west as St. Paul's is to the east.

As of late, a new inspiration has arisen within me - from the other side of the world!!! The Cathedral of St. Mary in Sydney, Australia (link is to their YouTube channel), has just recently been regularly posting their Masses on YouTube.  I'm listening to the solemn Mass for II Advent as I type this.  This, too, is a men/boys choir Mass (it's just the men this weekend, and you can hear the countertenors quite well).  There are two organs in operation, including a very large Letourneau organ, from St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, Canada (same city as Casavant Frères, and the former En Cied Orgues Canadiennes, founded in the early 1900's by a former Casavant employee).  The Letourneau organ is used for prelude, postlude, hymns, and any parts of the Mass sung by the congregation.  There is a smaller sanctuary organ which is used for choral material, whether it be chant or polyphony.

I would love to learn more about the Psalm settings that are used at the Sydney Cathedral.  They are absolutely gorgeous!

You wouldn't think I was the same organist who, at 19, had Glory and Praise tapes rammed down my throat like they were the cat's meow! ;)  Now, at 51, I now feel like I'm in my prime, maybe not physically (at 51, you're 21 one day and 81 the next), but definitely musically, and the project that I've been revising every time I turn around is finally coming to fruition.  I feel this is the product in which I will finally be able to say what Pontius Pilate said when confronted about what he wrote on Jesus' cross: QUOD SCRIPSI, SCRIPSI (What I have written, I have written)!


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