30 December 2010

Pope Receives 'Pueri Cantores'

From the Vatican News Service's Blog:

VATICAN CITY, 30 DEC 2010 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in an international congress of the International Federation of "Pueri Cantores", currently being held in Rome.

The Pope addressed the group in English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Polish and Ukrainian. "As you use your talents and your faith to sing God's praises, you give voice to the natural desire of every human being to glorify Him, with songs of love", he said. "Yet beautiful music is able to express something of the mystery of God's love for us and ours for Him, as we are reminded by the theme chosen for your Congress: 'Deus Caritas Est'".

"Always remember that your singing is a service. Firstly, it is a service to God, a way of giving Him the praise that is due. It is also a service to your fellow worshippers, helping them to raise their hearts and minds to the Lord in prayer. And it is a service to the whole Church, offering a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy that is the goal of all true worship, when the choirs of angels and saints unite in one unending song of love and praise".
AC/ VIS 20101230 (210)

23 December 2010

Chant CD now back up on LMS site

With the move to a new site, the Latin Mass Society temporarily lost the excellent selection of chants done by John Tennant. These are now uploaded onto the new site on a special page of their own: Chant Dowloads.

This is one of the most useful selections of chants available: it includes the Asperges and Vidi Aquam, Masses I, II, IV, XI, XVII and XVIII, the Ordinary of the Requiem, Credo I and Credo IV, all four Marian Anthems in both Simple and Solemn tones, a selection of commonly-sung chants from the back of the Liber Usualis and the Domine salvam fac - the prayer for the Queen sung at the end of Sunday Mass in the Extraordinary Form. Some of these, like the Domine salvam fac and Solemn tones of the Marian Anthems, simply aren't available on other chant selection CDs.

John Tennant, who sings regularly at St Bede's, Clapham Park, is very clear in his singing and is unaccompanied.

All for free! In MP3 format.

22 December 2010

Chants for priests

'Windsor Latin Mass' has on their website some very nicely produced sheets with Collects, Epistles, Gospels, Postcommunions etc. set out in full to square notes for the priest to use.

An excellent initiative!

See here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

28 November 2010

Thought for the week

"Even though, as one can see, there are long and short notes in Gregorian Chant, as in all speech, it is not on this object that we should focus our attention. Who dreams of scanning his words while speaking? It is sufficient that one takes care to pronounce them well and distribute them well according to the natural divisions of the phrase."

Dom Pothier, architect of the Solesmes revival of Gregorian Chant, 1880.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

24 November 2010

Masterclass in Sicilian Chant

Master class Medieval Mediterranean Chant techniques - Graindelavoix on Friday, November 26th from 10am till 5pm

On Friday November 26th 2010 the ensemble graindelavoix organizes an exceptional master class for singers and all interested people in De Singel, Antwerp. Subject are the fascinating chant traditions of 12th century Palermo (Sicily).

We will work on the vocal and modal techniques of these repertoires:

· Italo-Byzantine chant

· Moroccan and Tunisian sufi chant

· Norman-Sicilian Chant

Björn Schmelzer, together with Adrian Sîrbu, Hassan Boufous and Marius Perterson, singers and international specialists of these repertoires, invites all kind of singers and voice types to join.

The master class can be joined without foreknowledge. Also passive participants, interested non-singers, are welcome!

Next to vocal techniques, modal traditions and ornamental practice we will concentrate on the context of these kind of repertoires.

Info and registration (free!) via mail to Hendrik De Rycker: hendrik@graindelavoix.be or via phone: +32.(0)485/79.28.08

On Friday evening November 26th in Bozar and on Sunday November 28th graindelavoix will perform concerts with these repertoires.

See also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wwflzqqBmI&feature=related : a fragment of this repertoire performed by Adrian Sîrbu and graindelavoix.


Supported by Stad Antwerpen, Moussem Festival and De Singel - Artesis Hogeschool.

18 October 2010

Chant on the Radio

From an email.

Every Sunday morning Una Voce France delivers a broadcast which lasts about one hour. Its title is “Chant Gregorien, prière chantée”. It is exclusively dedicated to the Gregorian chant of the Mass of the day (as well as that of approaching Feast days) and the Kyriale, Credo… A short commentary explains the origin of these Gregorian chants and their meaning. The broadcast is also available on the preceding Monday on the Una Voce website as well as on various radio stations. A real liturgical training of the “Church’s sung prayer” is thus taking place on a regular basis.

Patrick Banken, President. Una Voce France.


08 October 2010

Course of one-day workshops in Portsmouth

This is a most exciting development: the GCN and the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge are joinly organising a series of chant workshops in Portsmouth, to build on the success of the one-day event this Summer.

Thanks to sponsorship from the Latin Mass Society, there are discounts for groups and for LMS members: please email us for full details.

Seven Workshops running between October
2010 and April 2011
Led by two very knowledgable and talented singers and teachers of Chant:
Abbot Cuthbert Brogan Abbot of Farnborough Abbey
Christopher Hodkinson a Director of Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge

All levels of experience welcome.

Saturday 30th October 2010 Saturday 20th November 2010
Saturday 18th December 2010 Saturday 15th January 2011
Saturday 19th February 2011 Saturday 19th March 2011
Saturday 16th April 2011

Fee: £85.00 for all seven Workshops (Course book included) or
£15.00 per individual Workshop plus Course book fee.
Tea and coffee available

For further enquiries and to register,
contact: chantnetwork@gmail.com
or 023 9286 2384

In Association with:
Gregorian Chant Network (www.gregorianchantnetwork.org) and
Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge

12 September 2010

Residential Course 2011: dates announced

Download the application form here.
2010 04 11_5557

The Gregorian Chant Network
will be holding its second 3-day training weekend, in 2011,
to be directed by Colin Mawby,
with the assistance of Nigel Kerry.

8-10th April, at the Oratory School,
Reading RG8 0PJ

View Larger Map

Beginners and advanced groups, sung Mass each day, Sung Compline, Vespers, Benediction and other devotions, courtesy of the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat taking place alongside the course.

Full fee £90 per person. £10 discount for members of the Latin Mass Society.

Big discounts for groups coming from affiliated choirs, thanks to sponsorship from the Latin Mass Society.

Two people from one choir: £60 each
Three or more people from one choir: £40
Plus a £10 discount for members of the LMS.

Equiries please email: chantnetwork@gmail.com

2010 04 10_5628

02 September 2010

Chant Forum (Panel of Monastic Musicians)

I have just recieved this.

Meeting of the Chant Forum, 4 - 7 May 2010

The Chant Forum was established in 2006, in response to a widely felt need, in order to support and encourage the singing of Gregorian Chant in our monasteries. Previous meetings have been held at Mt. St. Bernard, Stanbrook, Douai and Downside. This year the venue was Pluscarden. Seventeen guests came, representing the monasteries of Ampleforth, Crawley Down, Douai, Ealing, Kristo Buase, Oulton, Petersham, Ramsgate, Rostrevor, New Stanbrook and Worth. In addition we were joined by the directors of three Gregorian Choirs attached to Catholic Cathedrals or parishes. Guests expected from the Abbeys of Glenstal and Roscrea in Ireland had to cancel at the last minute: the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud was disrupting many flights at just this time. The two founders of the Forum, both currently resident in Rome, were unfortunately not able to be with us. Various others, also unable to attend, nevertheless expressed much interest, and financial support was received from the Fernham Trust and an anonymous benefactor, so that we were able to keep all costs to a minimum.

The main speaker for our meeting was Mr. Jaan-Eik Tulve, master interpreter of Gregorian Chant, director of prestigious Gregorian Choirs in Estonia and France, formerly a close collaborator with Dom Daniel Saulnier of Solesmes, and widely travelled musical advisor to many monastic communities. This was his second visit to Pluscarden: two years ago he came to help our Choir improve its understanding and interpretation of the Chant, and to direct us in recording some pieces for a Holy Week CD.

When Jaan-Eik speaks, and also when he sings, it is immediately apparent that he understands what the Chant is doing, where it is going, what was the intention of its authors, and how we can make that intention our own. With our meeting being held in the fifth week of Easter, he devoted his sessions largely to examination of the Masses of Ascension and Pentecost. He rarely referred to the printed page. So thoroughly does he know this music, in its every detail and nuance, that like its early practitioners he is able to sing it, as it were, simply from the heart. I think all present felt a sense of privilege in this opportunity to sit at his feet, and watch him in action. A single session, just interpreting, for example, an Alleluia verse, would have made the whole meeting worth while.
Jaan-Eik’s focus is always first of all on the text: the music is there for the text, and not vice versa. He would often begin any practice by having everyone speak through the text together, paying particular attention to the verbal accents. Of course the Gregorian composer could approach any text in widely differing ways: sometimes an exuberant proclamation, sometimes a deeply interior meditation; now with great energy and movement, now with the utmost serenity and calm. To understand what he is up to musically, we have to let him lead us in responding to the text as he does, and to pray it with him.

To convey just some of the lessons Jaan-Eik loved to return to time and again: we should never think of notes in a Gregorian piece as somehow disjunct units. On the contrary, they are always part of a movement, flowing always towards its end. A great part of good interpretation is to “feel” this movement; to see where it is heading; to know which notes are structurally important, and which light passing ornaments. Always the phrase should be sung smoothly, with “a very good legato”. Breathing should be completely natural, relaxed; absolutely without strain or tension. Good breath control should enable us to sing long phrases to the end without any break. Jaan-Eik is much in favour of a Choir director conducting all pieces. If he has the music in his hands, he can lead any group to pass beyond merely singing correct notes, to achieve a living interpretation which will also be well united. Throughout his stay, Jaan-Eik himself directed our Choir at Mass, and it was indeed a joy to experience the beneficial effects of this.

Other speakers at our meeting included Fr. Gerard Byrne of the Glasgow Archdiocese. His subject was the current state of the Chant outside the monasteries. He spoke of his own experience, including in Rome, and looked at the many interventions of the Magisterium on the subject, dwelling especially on the phrase of Vatican II “actuosa participatio”. Jennifer Smith, professional singer and singing teacher gave a session of instruction which she called “Chanting on the breath of God”. Our own home team also gave talks: on teaching the Chant to novices, and on St. Benedict’s phrase, referring to the liturgy in Eastertide: “Alleluia without intermission” (Holy Rule 15:1).
When the majority of our Forum guests had departed, Jaan-Eik stayed on for some days to give more direct help to our own Choir. One tangible result of this was a reform in the way we interpret sung Psalmody! He also helped us launch another recording project: this time for a CD of Easter Chant.

Clearly the meeting was worthwhile and much appreciated by all participants. Plans are therefore already in place for another to be held next year, once again at Douai Abbey.

29 July 2010

Scholas in the South West

When I first created the Map of Scholas, the South West was a completely empty zone. Rather oddly the scholas I knew about all seemed to be in the middle of the country, keeping away from the East and West coasts.

But that has now changed, and I'm particularly pleased to advertise the existence of two schola in the South West singing at the Traditional Mass: one church-based one in Warminster, founded and directed by the Parish Priest, Fr Bede Rowe, and one peripatetic schola, in South Devon.

Fr Rowe's modest church of St George's in Warminster now has a Traditional Mass every Sunday evening; his (mixed) schola aims to sing at about quarterly intervals.

The South Devon Schola sings every Sunday, including at the monthly Sunday Traditional Mass at Buckfast. The great Abbey Church of Buckfast is the most remarkable example of neo-Gothic architecture, actually built on the foundations of a medieval Abbey church a century ago.

Neither has a website, but we can put readers in touch with them.

26 July 2010

Ealing Chant Workshops

“To sing is to pray twice”
(St.Augustine of Hippo)

Gregorian Chant Workshops

Wednesdays 6.40pm-8pm

Starting up again September 8th

New Chapel, Ealing Abbey

Marchwood Cresc.London W5

Jennifer Smith, RCM
0777 625 74 72

No special qualifications needed, only to be able to sing in tune
And to love to sing

All welcome

09 July 2010

Salmaire: Edinburgh Chant group

Before I started researching the Chant scene I had no idea such interesting things were going on. Having just blogged about a group at the Royal College of Music in London, here is a fascinating group in Edinburgh who I will add to the map as soon as I have a proper Internet connection!

Salmaire is a Gregorian chant study and performance group which meets every Wednesday evening at 7.30 in
St Patrick's
5, South Gray's Close
40 High Street

(This is just between the Cowgate and the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.)

Contact Alasdair Codona:
Tel 07511 201399
Contact: calumcille@yahoo.com


Salmaire is a Gaelic term equivalent to the Greek ψαλτός: the word denotes one who sings ecclesiastical chant. The group learns various ancient styles of neumatic notation which are used to assign long and short durations to pitches. Chants are memorised rather than read from and musical notation is used ultimately as a reminder rather than a text to be followed in performance.

The repertoire is taught according to a 'syllabic beat' interpretation, as per other Christian chant traditions where the basic short note is half the durational value of the average syllable. Generally, proportional pitch durations are assigned to communal items to match the syllabic beat and rhythmic nuancing is mainly a solo preserve.

The singing style is Scottish and modern, rather than French and Romantic. The Gaelic harp is used to guide singing when learning chants. An ability to read music is not necessary to take part, nor is a beautiful voice. The tutor of the group is Alasdair Codona.

30 June 2010

Now seven scholas inside the M25!

I have just added three more scholas to our list of affiliates and the map, by coincidence all of them are based in London. This brings the total in London to seven, which is very heartening.

The St Bede's Schola at Clapham Park and the Schola of the Knights' Chapel at St John's Wood (the chapel of the Order of Malta at the Hospital of SS John & Lizzie) have been on the map from the beginning; they were quickly joined by the LMS London Schola, an ad hoc group whose membership overlaps with the previous two but sings at Corpus Christi Maiden Lane and elswhere, and the choir of Our Lady of the Rosary, Blackfen, the church of Fr Tim Finigan.

I have just added St Mary's Latin Mass Choir, which boasts a website, and two very exciting initiatives of Jennifer Smith of the Royal College of Music. One is a Chant workshop at Ealing Abbey, whose participants form a schola for special occasions at the Abbey. The other is an official 'chamber group' at the RCM itself, which is working towards singing liturgically at nearby churches.

For more information on the Ealing Workshop please email Jennifer Smith: je.ma.smith@care4free.net

There are now 28 choirs and scholas on our map, which covers England, Wales and Scotland - including the Orkney Schola. I am waiting to hear back from two more groups in the South West who should bring the total to 30; if you have a group please let us know!

As with all the groups listed on this site, if their details aren't available on the web email us and we will forward the message to the organisers and put you in touch.

More Canterbury Gregorian Music Society events!


‘The Angelus, the Ave and the Salve’ for St. Mildred

Saturday 24th July 11.30-12.30

Greyfriars, Stour Street, Canterbury

We have been asked to run the little service commemorating St. Mildred which we did last year. It is very short, beginning with the Angelus at the traditional midday hour. This event forms part of the Parish festivities celebrating St. Mildred close to her feast day. We will have a short practice at 11.30 at Greyfriars and then sing the service. It would be most helpful if you could let me know of your intention to come along, just so I bring sufficient copies and know I will not be singing solo.


Friday 6th August and Saturday 7th August

University of Kent at Canterbury

9pm for 9.30pm

The World Community for Christian Meditation is holding its annual seminar in Canterbury this year at Kent University. They are keen for us to provide some appropriate music during their proceedings. They have asked us to sing Compline on the Friday and Saturday evenings of their seminar. This would be exactly the same chants as St. Anselm’s Compline which we did in the Cathedral last year. I will be running a workshop at 2-3pm on the afternoon of Friday 6th August for the Seminar participants who wish to learn the music. If anyone else wanted to join in this, I’m sure it would be possible. Other than that, we will have a quick reminder session at 9pm on the Friday and Saturday prior to the service. I have not yet got the exact location for the afternoon practice and the venue for the Compline itself. I’ll make sure I get that crucial information to those who express interest in coming along.


REPLY SLIP – EXTRA EVENTS (for planning purposes)

Name…………………………. email……………………………… phone…………………


Angelus Compline 6th August Compline 7th August

email: h.nattrass@sir-robert-mcalpine.com

CGMS, 19 St. Peter’s Grove, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2DH

As our Committee Members, including me, are away for various holidays during July, you might experience a small delay in reply to postal or email communications.

Helen Nattrass




Chairman: Tim le Lean: 07973 484 220

Music/events: Helen Nattrass: 07803 612556

Membership: Jonathan Butchers: 07974 738324

Canterbury Gregorian Music Society event


Gregorian Chant and Afternoon Tea

Saturday 31st July 2010 13.30 – 18.00

At St. Mildred’s Priory, Minster

This will be our third visit to the Benedictine Community at Minster. Our afternoon will consist of a talk and two workshops separated by a nice afternoon tea. Mother Nikola will start the proceedings with a brief talk about the form and use of the Alleluia and Gospel Acclamation. For the first singing session we will be in one group and we will sing through simple versions of Alleluias and Gospel Acclamations, both in Latin and English. After our tea, the group will split into two. One group will be able to explore some of the more elaborate Alleluias and Gospel Acclamations. This will probably appeal to those with some experience of singing chant. The other group will rehearse selected passages to join in Vespers with the Community at 17.30. This group will be geared towards less-experienced people or beginners.

Cost £5 members, £10.00 non-members – includes music and afternoon tea.

For the avoidance of doubt, on this particular Saturday, Vespers is at 17.30 not the usual 18.00.


13.30 – 14.00

Arrival and registration

14.00 – 14.30

Talk by Mother Nikola: Introduction to Gospel Acclamations

14.30 – 15.30

Workshop Session 1:

Singing simple Alleluias and Gospel Acclamations in Latin and English

15.30 – 16.15

Afternoon Tea and an opportunity to look round

16.15 – 17.15

Workshop Session 2:

Group 1: Singing more elaborate Gospel Acclamations

Group 2: Practice for singing selected passages of Vespers with the Community at 17.30 Vespers Service


Go over to chapel



REPLY SLIP - VESPERS AT MINSTER. To reserve a place please return this form (with payment) to the address below before 23rd July.

Name…………………………. email……………………………… phone…………………


Session 2 preference (to help us plan): Acclamations Vespers Practice

Cheques (for the sum of £5 for members or £10 for non-members) should be made out to CGMS and returned with this slip to:

CGMS, 19 St. Peter’s Grove, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2DH




Chairman: Tim le Lean: 07973 484 220

Music/events: Helen Nattrass: 07803 612556

Membership: Jonathan Butchers: 07974 738324

24 June 2010

Forthcoming Chant Training events led by Nick Gale

Contact: info@gregorianchant.org.uk

Saturday 26 June 2010: Lancaster Cathedral, Chant Workshop (General chant workshop and preparation for Usus Antiquior Mass)

Saturday 17 July 2010: Shrewsbury Cathedral, Chant Workshop (General chant workshop)

4 September 2010: Our Layde and St Michael’s Parish Centre, Abergavenny. www.olsm.org.uk

Saturday 16 October 2010, Our Lady of Lourdes, Wanstead: RSCM Chant Day (RC Diocese of Brentwood and Anglican Diocese of Chelmsford), (Gregorian Chant for Advent and Christmas).

There are two more workshops at Our Lady and St Peter, Leatherhead scheduled for the autumn and spring, one for clergy and one for laity – dates are yet to be confirmed.

See http://gregorianchant.org.uk/forthcoming/forthcoming.shtml

19 June 2010

GCN Course at Portsmough a triumph

On Saturday 12 June 2010, a group of 50 people participated in a Gregorian Chant Workshop in St John’s Cathedral Portsmouth. The aim of the Workshop was to give a practical introduction to the Chant for those with little or no experience, as well as helping those with some ability to develop their skills at singing the Chant.
‘It was a terrific turnout,’ said organiser Neville McNally. ‘Far more people enrolled than we imagined. There was a wide range of ages too, from 11 years to 80.’ Some people had travelled great distances and had set out at 5am in order to catch trains to Portsmouth. A lady called Rose from Devon, who considered herself to be a complete beginner, said that the day was a superb experience and hopes that another Workshop will be organised soon.
The instruction was provided by 2 inspirational teachers and experienced practitioners of the Chant, Dom Cuthbert Brogan OSB, Abbot of St Michael’s Abbey Farnborough, and Christopher Hodkinson, a musicologist from Cambridge and a Director of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge.
The day concluded with Vespers and Benediction which were sung in the Cathedral by all those who had participated in the workshop.

The event was organised in association with the Gregorian Chant Network by members of a male-voice chant choir called the Schola Gregoriana Sancti Nicolai which is based in Portsmouth.

Anyone interested in finding out about future Workshops, please email chantnetwork@gmail.com or telephone 023 92862384

20 May 2010

Hispanic Chant performance

The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society is forwarding information about this event.

Old Hispanic Chant
Lecture Recital

The Institute of Musical Research in association with
the University of Bristol and the University of Colorado at Boulder

Emma Hornby and Rebecca Maloy
with the
Schola Cantorum of the University of Bristol

Tuesday 25 May 2010
at 6pm

Large Common Room, London House, Goodenough College, Mecklenburgh Square, WC1
Free of charge.
Advance booking via valerie.james@sas.ac.uk essential.

A John Coffin Trust event

27 April 2010

PMP Chant Forum Meeting 2009

Further to the notice of the Chant Forum meeting to take place shortly in Pluscarden, Fr Benedict Hardy has sent me this report on last year's meeting in Downside.

Chant Forum Meeting, Downside Abbey 11-14 May 2009

The “Chant Forum” is a wholly informal grouping of UK monastic musicians, gathered under the benign umbrella of the Panel of Monastic Musicians, though with its focus exclusively on Gregorian Chant. The Forum met for the fourth session of its existence at Downside Abbey in May 2009. Numbers were a bit down from previous years, for various reasons including canonical Visitations, community Retreats, poor health, and assorted other incompatible commitments. Nevertheless, the 16 booked participants were joined by several Downside monks who joined us for many or all of the sessions, and we had a truly excellent meeting, which all present very much appreciated, voting with unanimous voice for more of the same next year.


The main speaker at this session was Père Xavier Perrin, Choir Master, Novice Master and Prior of Kergonan Abbey of the Solesmes Congregation in Brittany. We were very fortunate indeed to have him. He has a deep knowledge and love of the Chant, and very considerable musical ability. His English is more or less fluent: well able to express his teaching points on music, liturgy and prayer, and also his rather dry humour, seldom far from the surface.

Appropriately for the Year of St. Paul, the theme Dom Xavier chose was St. Paul in Gregorian Chant. First of all, he presented Paul’s doctrine of how to pray as a key to understanding the Chant. “I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind as well” he says in 1 Corinthians 14:15. Accordingly the Chant is rooted in the word, the text, which is always primary: it is not mere sound, but always conveys clear meaning. Yet this word, this text is expressed with free musical movement. We can think of this as representing the spirit, whose depths reach far beyond earth-bound human comprehension. Dom Xavier continually returned to this idea: that in Gregorian Chant we have a perfect union of word and spirit, and this above all is why this music is so much honoured in the Church, and still so valuable for us today.

There are relatively few Pauline texts in the Gregorian corpus. In the current Graduale Romanum indeed, only 17, of which one is a 19th century “neo-Gregorian” composition, and another a mediaeval adaptation, setting Pauline words to a pre-existing melody. We were therefore able to look during these days at a good portion of the available repertoire in some detail.

Here I mention briefly just two Pauline Chants we were taken through: both given for the feast of St. Paul’s conversion on 25 January. First, the Introit, setting the text of 2 Timothy 1:12: Scio cui credidi... Originally sung on 30 June, the implicit reference to the Introit for 29 June would formerly have been more obvious. There St. Peter sang Nunc scio vere ... (Acts 12:11). It’s as if the two Apostles sing antiphonally of what each knows; though as befits their very different characters, in very different musical mood (IIIrd mode for St. Peter, Ist for St. Paul). The composer of the Pauline Introit well captures the Apostle’s confident affirmation of invincible faith, especially on that striking intonation “Scio”. The word that he chooses to draw out most of all, however, is the “in” of “in illum diem”. In this way the music points with emphasis to the future, inviting us to make our own not only Paul’s faith, but also his hope.

Then in the Gradual for 25 January we have, as was typical for Gregorian composers, a combination and adaptation of scriptural texts. We start with Galatians 2 then move on to 1 Corinthians 15: Qui operatus est Petro... Gratia Dei in me vacua non fuit... Again the composer draws attention to the contrast with Peter. As Paul boldly establishes his own Apostolic claim the music soars up triumphantly. Yet there is no hint of pride, for all is based on grace. So the word “gratia” occurs three times in this wonderful piece, which Dom Xavier presented as Paul’s own Magnificat. Here as elsewhere we were invited to pray the text as we sing it: in Paul’s name, in our own name and in the name of the whole Church.

As well as his detailed analysis of pieces, Dom Xavier also spoke to us about the earliest Chant manuscripts, especially that of St. Gall, dating from the early 10th century. Why was it written? Certainly not to be sung from as we sing from a score today. Perhaps a clue is to be found in the carved ivory box that was made to house the precious volume. The suggestion was made that this whole work of art was conceived as a cultural monument: a concrete affirmation of the importance of the texts and music which this community had received, and wished to pass on, in aural tradition. The beautifully executed signs above the words should not be understood as merely describing the series of notes to be performed. Rather they convey visually how these sacred words are enthroned by this inherited musical gesture.

Not to be omitted from this write-up was the contribution of Jennifer Smith, professor at the Royal College of Music. She conducted an ever-timely session on voice production and breath control. “Keep the breath low and the voice high!” She followed Dom Xavier in lacing her instruction with theology: when we breathe in we take in, as it were, God’s breath; we incarnate his Word in our lungs, then breathe forth his Spirit. ...

Next year’s session to be here at Pluscarden. The main speaker is to be Mr. Jaan-Eik Tulve, master interpreter of Gregorian Chant. He has a great deal of experience helping monastic Choirs around the world, including our own, and we very much look forward to welcoming him back.

26 April 2010

Introduction to Gregorian Chant, Jarrow, 18th May

Hat-tip to Forest Murmers, where there are more incidental details.

Fr Adrian Dixon, Diocesan liturgist of the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle, will be leading an introductory session on Gregorian Chant:

Venue: St Bede's Church, Catholic Road, Jarrow, (NE32 3LX)

When: 7-9pm, on May 18th 7-9pm.

23 April 2010

Panel of Monastic Musicians Forum

The "Panel of Monastic Musicians' Chant Forum", an offshoot of the Panel of Monastic Musicians, http://www.monasticmusicians.org/ is having a meeting at Pluscarden Abbey 4-7 May.

This is a new venture, and while the meeting is invitation only, readers will be interested to know that things are developing in the monastic world.

-- Post From My iPhone

22 April 2010

18 April 2010

Chant Workshop at Douai April 24th

Douai Abbey, Upper Woolhampton, Reading RG7 5TQ

Led by Dr John Rowntree, Diector of the Douai Singers, the lay choir which sings at Douai Abbey

Fee (for the waged) £15

Sat 24th April, 9.45 am - 4pm

Contact: douaiabbey@aol.com

-- Post From My iPhone

15 April 2010

Training Event in Portsmouth Cathedral 12th June

This will be the Gregorian Chant Network's second training event. Our intention is that it be a characteristic of our events that beginners and the more advanced get separate tuition to maximise their benefit from the course; to this end we need to have two tutors at our events.

The Portsmouth training event will be led by Abbot Cuthbert Brogan of Farnbrough, assisted by Christopher Hodkinson of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge. Both are very experienced and talented singers and teachers of chant.

Registration in the Cathedral Hall will be from 9.30 and the day will end with Vespers (1960 Breviary) and Benediction (now confirmed) in the Cathedral at 4pm.

The fee will be £15 per person.

CONTACT: chantnetwork@gmail.com

2009 10 04_4370_edited-1
(Photo: the LMS Annual Solemn Mass in Portsmouth Cathedral, 4th October 2009)

Provisional programme:

- From 0930 registrations take place in the Cathedral hall.

- 1000 Workshop commences in the hall with an introduction to the chant for the whole group - led by Fr Abbot

- 1100 Workshop continues in 2 groups (we will use 2 rooms)

- 1230 Lunch

- 1330 Workshop continues in 2 groups

- 1445 Break

- 1500 Workshop continues with whole group

- 1545 Workshop completes. Prepare for Vespers and Benediction.

- 1600 Vespers and Benediction in the Cathedral.

Reaction to GCN Residential Course

A schola director has posted this on his blog:

"I spent the weekend on a superb and paradigm-shattering chant course taught by Nick Gale, music director at St George's Cathedral, Southwark. Note to Schola members: The bad news is that almost everything I have taught you about Gregorian chant in the last year is wrong. The good news is that my eyes (& ears) have been opened to a different way of thinking about chant that will be more organic, more intuitive, easier to pick up & ultimately both more musical & better suited to the texts being sung.

Trust me, this works!"

These weekend courses are a really unique opportunity, since it is possible to do so much more over a weekend than in a single day. We had excellent numbers at the course last weekend, but for those who didn't make it, don't let the next one pass you by!

12 April 2010

Successful GCN Weekend Course completed

The Gregorian Chant Network's first training event, a weekend course, took place 9-11th April.
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To enable us to divide the singers into more and less experienced groups, we had two tutors: Nick Gale, the Director of Music at Southwark Cathedral, and his colleague Mark Johnson. The picture above shows Nick addressing the entire group, of thirty singers.
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The course was hosted by the St Catherine's Trust at their annual Family Retreat, and Nick (above) gave a very interesting talk to the Retreatants about the history of Gregorian Chant (picture, above). The SCT Family Retreat is a large retreat which has been taking place annually since 2006, and includes daily Sung Mass, Compline twice, and Vespers and Benediction once, and this year a Marian procession. So there is plenty of singing to be done! Nick Gale and Mark Johnson took the singers on the course through much of the music they would encounter during the weekend's liturgies, in the course of teaching the singing of psalmody, the interpretation of melismatic neums, and general style in the chant.
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Nick Gale's general approach is based on the Graduale Triplex, and the scholarship it represents. Singers were taught to give the text the leading place in the interpretation of chant, and not to attempt to impose an artificial rythmic structure on it. This is particularly clear in chanting the psalms for Compline and Vespers, but is applicable to the chants of the Mass as well.
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For the first Mass of the Retreat we had a professional schola; subsequenly, the Masses were accompanied by the singers on the chant course: in the picture above we are sitting at the back of the Chapel.

It was a wonderful and very stimulating weekend, of Chant in the context of the traditional liturgy and spirituality of the Church. There is a post about the Retreat itself on the LMS Chairman blog here, and I hope to post some videos of the singing soon.

06 April 2010

Chant Training Day in London, 29th May

The Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge is presenting a Gregorian Chant singing day in the glorious surroundings of the Temple Church in London. It is open to beginners and more experienced singers alike. The music will include chants for the Templars’ own breviary recalling their Foundation of this Church in 1185 and the day will finish with all participants singing Vespers. There will also be an organ recital, a talk on the Templars and an optional Schola dinner in the historic Inner Temple Hall.

The day will be conducted by Jeremy White and Philip Duffy, both expert teachers of the Chant.

£35 for the day, £25 for students. Optional dinner for £50. Free parking.

For booking and more information:

www.scholagregoriana.org and click on Events
or please ring 01223 263063

31 March 2010

Chant Day in Canterbury

Saturday 1st May 2010

Ascension Day Chant Workshop and rehearsal

with Nick Gale – Director of Music, Southwark Cathedral

at St. Mildred’s Church, Church Lane, Canterbury, CT1 2PP

In preparation for

Thursday 13th May 2010

Gregorian Chant Mass for Ascension Day

19.30 at St. Peter’s Church, St Peter’s Street, Canterbury Celebrant: Rev. Mark Ball