Monday, June 29, 2009

uh, no that's not precise....howabout coalesce?

After dropping off the colloquium's resident countertenor, Norman, at the train station,Wendy and checked into the Westin and we dilly-dallied for an hour or so, then did the obligatory trek to Navy Pier and took our requisite Ferris Wheel ride. Gorgeous is Chicago on such perfect days!
When we came back to the hotel we thought we'd have a small, mid-afternoon repaste and Wendy had thought she'd heard there was a Tapas on the second floor. Got there and, lo and behold, there was the registration of the American Cantors Association! Yarmulkas and smiling faces and lively greetings in abundance were everywhere.
Being the never trepedatious crasher, I sauntered into their exhibits, beautiful shawls and headwear that reminded me of Fr. Hayne's final homily, glistening jewelry and gemstone articles, artwork, books of music that seemed to indicated a heavy leaning towards the Reformed and Conservative branches of Judaism, ie. guitar straps and accoutrements were the dead giveaway.
My grin must've given me away as the goy Cheshire Cat fer shure.
Anyways, I thought it an interesting confluence. I'd love to stick around. We were returning to the room and a young man with kids was chatting up a short, compact and attractive middle aged woman, remarking how he was a "life-long fan" of hers. It was sweet, but kind of NPMish in a way.
Anyway, I mused about what it would be like to have an impromptu session where our two traditions could weave their melodies and our shared scriptural treasures together. Muse. "Neither Greek nor Jew..."
We're going to check out, drive the rental around Chicago for three hours, then onto O'Hare and San Francisco.
Kathy, if you read this, email me at scurradei (at) sbcglobal (dot) net, thanks.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Tongues of fire, tongues on FIRE!

Somebody explain to me why Jeffrey Tucker posits that we colloquium bloggers have been slackers! He's not getting my Bloomingdale's $45 bow tie, which is still fresh as an unpacked Paschal candle for griping over at NLM! So there! Kidding.
We did, after the magnificent Vespers,feté the King of Pomp and Circumstance. But he was, of course, late for the feté, so it was left to me to verily praise, honor and initiate the salute and toast to the true Queen, not Elizabeth I, not Mary Queen of Scots, not Marie Antoinette nor any mere mortal south of the BVM- no I'm talking Mrs. Arlene Oost-Zinner. Yes, she who, not unlike the BVM (or Elizabeth for that matter) will roll up her sleeves, box surplus books, write out whiteboard directions for the following day's locales whilst others are partying or sleeping, circumnavigate Lake Michigan on a morning walk, and teach the rendition of a perfect gradual....SIMULTANEOUSLY. Only our true CMAA Queen receives the plastic margarita grail inwhich inordinately priced but truly succulent wine is poured.
Jeffrey did roll in and also received his plastic orchid-adorned cup with some hearty red as well. I have to give him his props (he is of particular genius, you know) in that he figured out who the lone basso was that was inspired by the Holy Spirit to join in singing the psalmody assigned Arlene's Treble Schola at Vestpers.
And, as many have commented here and in cyberland, he's so, so, well....animated!

The Requiem Mass for Msgr. Schuler and CMAA/Cecilia Society predecessors:
1. The Joan Brudieu Mass setting proved to be like a Hope Diamond one finds at a garage sale. I thank Jeffrey for assesing our choir's performance as stunningly beautiful under Maestro Brouwer's immaculate and purified preparation and direction. Wilco was able to let his "hair down" in the afternoon to describe his discovery of the gem and its journey to Chicago. It is proof that there is still much gold in the old mines that have been long abandoned and assumed fallow. CMAA, do your homework. Find out who these odd names are in the St. Basil, the St. Pius X and other venerable hymnals. Go looking for Psalters from city-state cathedrals whose composers' settings were in the vernaculars of the 16th century. Then look for their Ordinaries. These are the treasures spoken of in the documents. The Predieu Mass represents all those ancestors of ours who added to the treasury of sacred music so eloquently examined in Fr. Ruff's book.
2. This Mass was, among all the other liturgies of the week, the very embodiment of our Holy Father's book "The Spirit of the Liturgy." I particular commend and cannot wait for the transcription of Fr. Hayne's homily, which is Cosmology 101 of the Roman Mass in the Usus Antiquor.

We've laid down some preliminary agreements to host a weekend seminar in Central California with Professor Mahrt, Fr. Jeff Keyes and MaryAnn Carr of San Diego sometime between Christmas and Lent of the next liturgical year. Talk of forming a West Coast chapter of CMAA has of a West Coast Colloquium has been whispered....(I'm still thinking we take our act to Europe!)

A couple of related sociological phenomena have presented themselves as powerful witness: home-schooling families and the pre-eminent mandate for musicians and clergy to not relinquish their rightful authority over the instruction and repertoire presented to our parochial school children! The young adults who've been home-schooled are deeply networked and poised to assume leadership of music ministry if given opportunities by enlightened clergy locally. The young seminarians present are protean examples of the future of the priesthood as the Holy Father envisions and brings to our world-wide attention as we've entered "The Year of the Priest."

Lastly, Scott Turkington is perfect. Even when he's directing on top of a chair.
Thank you, and good night now.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

(as in "Mother Church")

After this morning's Usus Antiquor Mass (which was Wendy's first!) I typically had this weird notion that somehow the liturgy, of which we are both part and participants thereof, had taken a huge fall down the stairs at various points of implementation of the NO across the nation, and we've had our heads on backwards ever since.
Consequently another phenomenon can be borrowed from this film:
We've lived with a huge hole in our beings ever since, and if the fix, like the magic potion or the plastic surgeon's spray paint in the film is truly artifice, then we will continue to try any and every new thing on the shelf to fill that hole.
Back to this morning's Mass. For me, my second EF at a colloquium, well, I won't be singing "Are the stars out tonight, I don't know if it's cloudy or bright, 'cause I only have eyes for ME, dear me!" Uh, the stars are now aligned in my sight. And they take me away from me ('cause IT'S NOT ABOUT ME!) and point me towards the Son of Righteousness, the Daystar, the Phos Hilaron.
If anyone should ask, by the way, the Treble Schola from St. John Cantius simply rocks! More to follow, cheers!
PS. Last night we were going to call it a night early with one nice bottle of Zin from the Central Coast (Paso Robles), but Professor Mahrt came out of nowhere for a second go 'round. Oh, did we break out the good stuff, and I mean more than the finest fruit of the vine. Tres bien.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I shudder to think

Well, intrepid followers, Professor Mahrt did hearken unto the call of the cabernet last evening and bless our little chat room confreres with good company and good wine courtesy of the late, great Mondavi. We held forth for a good two hours at a subdued yet lively level of conversations that opined about, oh just about ever'thing. It was truly an honor to share in his wisdom, so self-effacing most of the time, because he just seems to exude: "Well, that's just good old common sense, isn't it?"
I think the most impressive aspect about the very nature and character of "CMAA" people is that, though we/they do wax on about very real, global and universal concerns, issues and problems the Church and its worship ideals and practices, virtually every member I know is quite content and humbled to just concentrate upon what they can do in their own places of worship to help "restore the sacred" and with those who have sewn the seeds earlier than others, add to the legacy and treasury of their parish or cathedral worship traditions that have been restored with an integral beauty.
Cardinal George's homily on this celebration of the eve before the birth of St. John Baptist kept the notion of "I must decrease, so that Christ may increase" as the recurring motif for what we do in our vocations. I know that in other places I visit and post concerning liturgy on the world wide interlink there are a majority of folks who refuse to look through the scales over their eyes, passed whatever iconstasis they've been inculcated to regard as heirarchical at best, discriminatory at worst, and see what is so obvious about the Holy Mass that shook my wife to her core and to exclaim, (really, she did!) "I got it- it's not about US!"
And I don't really wish to disparage either the good people who work for the Lit/Industrial Complex corporations or their clientele who will gather (how they like to just say and do that: "gather.")for their love-fests and "free exchange" of both ideas and their necessary offspring, "goods and services." But, for the life of me, of what are many of them so afraid of discovering when they encounter the CMAA, the odd organist or choir master who deigns to strategically infuse a chanted proper or ordinary setting without prior clerical approval? Why, if our talented organists (such as young Gavin who posts at MSForum) are willing to give a respectful treatment and accompaniment to "Glory and Praise to Our God," are the clerics, committees, choirs and cantors who require those songs not willing to even entertain the notion of reading, digesting, and acknowledging not only the expressed policies of how and with what do we worship, but to actually get their toes wet somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Michigan, Loyola or St. John Cantius? I know of some people who are actually in mourning that "their" Mass will be denied them, AGAIN, as they believe they were excluded from the ownership and priesthood of the faithful prior to the revised order of the Mass after the council. They're all angry.
No one at CMAA is angry. Not a soul. Some of us are weird, (guess who?), some of us might rightly be described as fanatics (but not lunatics!), and many of us are highly exciteable people. But what we are not is fearful, or angry, or frustrated or disheartened.
Earlier today I ran into Jeffrey Merton, Chironomo, who is posting, along with Aristotle, and thanked him for those techie things I can't bring to the ether. But I told him I was going to, as the papers would say, break a newsflash. Well, here it is, though it's only an idea that surfaced at the end of our Mahrt night. The professor told us how Cardinal George wanted not only to come to this CMAA event, but to celebrate Mass! So MaryAnn, Singing Mum just kind of "dreamed a dream" out loud: "What about inviting the Holy Father next year?"
Here's my vision: what would it be like if we, CMAA, could take our road show to the Holy Father, say in Munich one year, with Fr. (brother) Georg and the monks of HeiligenKreuz as guests and presenters? As I said to Professor Mahrt, what kind of sign would that be to the whole Church if "the Americans" went to the First World as the vanguard crusade for TROTR. Americans in Europe, without some diva slicing eardrums with the Schubert or the Tenore with the Franck? No, just Turk, Jeffrey, Arlene, Frs. Pasley, Keyes, Phillips et al, and our motley crew singing with tender care and adoration this "other language" that belongs only to God, and as Fr. Ruff observed others deeming it not just music and text, but a whole other form of commuication in praise of Jesus, the Christ, Lord and Savior of us all.
Now that would be pilgrimage.

Heaven.....I'm in heaven....

Mass in the Ordinary Form, Latin, presided over by His Eminence, Francis Cardinal George, the exquisite chapel at Loyola, Chicago, my beloved at my side, her magnificat voice and heart singing square notes as though she'd done so her entire life, seemingly innumerable ensembles and scholas approaching the spirit of the Liturgy with great beauty, awe and aspirations towards the perfection we await, and an improvised postlude that represented, for me, both the terror and awe that does await us should we be graced to encounter infinity in the Divine Presence of God.
It is not enough to think while going home, "What do I tell people happened? You hadda be there?" No, you gotta be there. More to follow.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The View From the Other Side of the Dorm Room
This is Wendy's first reflection on the trek to CMAA through the forced march of 35 years of post-concilior liturgy shared within our marriage and life experiences.

In sharing with a friend in California earlier today while sitting in front of the Maris Stella Chapel, looking out at Lake Michigan, this is a life changing experience which cannot be expressed other than in beauty and tears... raised Anglican and confirmed on the eve of my marriage, the past 36 years as a Catholic have been spent assisting others in prayerfully, musically worshipping God at Mass and through other experiences. Although there have been moments of the sacred through the years, and although it has been with reverence and love that I have offered my abilities and time to the Church, there has been nothing to reflect in association with the experience at the Colloquium thus far and to come. The intensity, simplicity, reverence, awareness, expertise, love...poured out, one for each other, by all attending this retreat is overwhelming to my experience - hence expression in beauty and tears. With joy I lift up my voice in the midst of the great beauty. With joy and heartfelt gratitude, my tears flow silently.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Prima nochte

So many friends, old and new. What a pleasure to meet Jeff Ostrowski and his Corpus Christi crew of youngin's. I don't care what he tells you, he's going to get carded every time until he's 65, if he ever imbibes a fermented beverage! His portrait must be adjacent to "energy" in the dictionary; and such a nice sibling he brought his little sis with the crew just because she loves to sing. And that, meinen Freunden, ist dass Punkt!
And then there was meeting "G"/Scelata after a year of wondering who the heck this brilliant woman is who doesn't take squat from anyone and posts like she's Samuel L. Jackson proclaiming "And dat's the truth, Ruth!" Kathy (Hymnography Unbound), whom I briefly got to know at SD Intensive is so charmingly coy. MJB was all business helping AOZ with all things registrative.
So, after a primer of introductions which would serve as perfect models of what I'd want to hear from my parish ambo weekly, the plenum sang a couple of motets under Professor Mahrt and Dr. Buchholz, and then we diaspora'd to five distinct polyphonic choirs. We set up shop with Maestro Brouwers and the Joan Brudieu Requiem. We went up to the 7th floor of Mundelein Hall overlooking the lake and after some brief biographical remarks (I think this fellow Brudieu was some sort of proto-Basque version of Poland's Gomolka) we started the Kyrie. Wendy appreciated how his corrective remarks were so tactile and accessible. What I liked was his adherence to the maxim "If you want them to listen actively, don't sing so darn loud!" It's going to surely evince a strong witness to the faith we share through this director's insights and demands. And that word, demand, is why I so believe in what CMAA is doing, why I wanted the love of my life to viscerally experience the spectrum of Catholic sacred music culture that has been sequestered. Liturgy is the work of the people, except that we have devalued the very notion of what "work" constitutes; it is supposed to hurt, it is supposed to be difficult and almost unatainable, it is supposed to such difficult exercize that ought to compel the worshipper to want to prove worthy of being in the presence of the Divine. Brouwer, et al here, get that in spades.
Compline was Wendy's first venture into the Office; she "did" so well, but she felt that she didn't even get her toes wet. I can't wait for the moment when she gets that it is simply about being in that moment totally committed, whether or not she nuances every neume and word perfectly or not. I think she is among those of whom Jeffrey spoke about in his NLM post earlier today. It is a beauty to behold.
Speaking of beauties to behold:

And as it's 12:21 CST as I conclude, I might say that Simpson 4th floor was well represented in the common room by 3 Californians, 1 young buck CA/Oregon DM who took Amtrak (that shows moxie), a great young priest from SC, and our surprise guest, a DM from Canberra, Australia (lucky I had some Yellowtail Shiraz on hand!)
We tried, and I mean we as in MA Singing Mum and the old man here, to coax Prof. Mahrt to have a sip of some fine Cab not from Pomeroy's Wine Bar, but he needed to settle in. So, we kept the fires burning until a lovely man next to the common room reminded us of the witching hour, which we immediately respected.
Wendy's nodded off, I'm going to lay the corpulence down in a minute. But this so bodes well for the resurgence of our Roman Rites here in the US, and maybe the "West." I can't speak to how convicted I felt next to my wife as we sang Compline together; it was so........CATHOLIC.
Now Everyone Knows Why "She is 'your' BETTER HALF."
After nearly forty years in this "biz," it is truly remarkable how one feels when you walk into yet another convention, so to speak, and then feel the joy, soak in the radiant smiles and revel in the company of colleagues who definitely are not at "yet another convention."
What has been so fabulous are the greetings to Wendy. "We feel like we've known you for so have to be Charles' wife!...." or in Fr. Keyes' case "Wendy, how have you managed for so long?!?"
11 out of the 12 wines made it in tact from CA to IL. Lost one Central Coast Zin. Zin tax, plenary indulgence, part of building the high altar in Exodus I must have read in the Douay-Rheims somewhere...
Schedule is fantastic, book is unbelievable, as Jeffrey lauded over at NLM, can't wait for poly rehearsal tonight!
Made an ill-planned walk for more "fortitude" along a sultry northern Chicago street, looking for stemware. Yes, I'm that stupid.
We did find two plastic margarita goblets at CVS.
And then did the Lord part the seas. MA, AOZ, D.H., Jeffrey and some others were sipping pilsners and chardonnay at the Bananas Foster Cafe as we happened along. I went inside to get some white I asked the owner if he ever sold his wine glasses. He kind of grunted "How many?" "Four." "Okay." A glass of Chardonnay and four glasses-$7.00. Te Deum laudamus, soli Deo gloria and Deo gratias!
For into the evening.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The trip up from the parched valley was pleasant and smooth, even along the stretch of US 101 going north from San Jose to SFO International. The chair above seemed like a good omen, a breeze wafted audibly around the tall pines out of the tiny window view. My middle daughter JoJo showed up an hour after check-in with her Swedish friend, plus a few Dad's Day gifts and a couple of 750's of barely potable Cab. Suffice it to say that one of the gifts will make it to Carolina Cannonball's Crescat Catholic Weird Kitsch contest next year. I cannot divulge its form save to describe it as a cousin to the infamous 50's Eight Ball Answer Ball!
Dinner at the hotel bar/restaurant was a hilarious lost cause. Nobody there besides us and a walk-in couple from Fargo ND on their way to a wedding in Monterrey. The hapless bartender/wait lady was clearly suffering from what she termed a "double." We concluded that was a none-too-veiled double entendre. We ordered a round of gimlets whose proof was courtesy of Seagrams, well water. It only got stranger. I ordered against every ounce of common sense, the Encrusted potato salmon steak while the ladies sensibly had hamburgers, salads and soups. Then we asked what wines were available. The gal, Annette, said they had some Kendall-Jackson Cab, but she couldn't find an unopened bottle....would we like to kill some leftover from what she termed a "wild disco night." What the hey....sure.
It's virtually impossible to screw up a gimlet or a bowl of clam chowder, but when Annette showed up with the entrees, I saw placed before me one of those barely pink, artificially pre-grilled salmon steaks with a huge pile of BBQ-flavored potato chips topping it like they'd been deposited there by a passing tornado in the kitchen. It was the damndest thing I've ever seen come out of anybody's kitchen, a crazy aunt's even where green eggs and ham were real!
Up at 2am for the flight east. United did well. Got good rest. O'Hare and rental car went very smooth; though our new GPS whom we've entrusted a Windsorian British accent and dubbed Deirdre had a few issues with commands lost in translation. The Westin on North Michigan is great; I will gladly pass on the first Yertle Award for best discount travel service in private correspondence.
We settled in. Then traversed the Magnificent Mile on my 58 year old, but feels like 90 year old knees. Found our alternative to the usual trek to Mortons we do when in Chicago down around Rush Street- going to Gibson's for steak tonight. So, made a reservation for 9pm (which is still 7 in PST for us,) picked up a nice little California Cab called "The Girls in the Vineyard" and I decided after a couple of small sips to initiate this first of my Colloquium 09 reports downstairs where the wi-fi is gratis.
I am so looking forward to everyone meeting Wendy finally and hearing her join in the polyphony particularly. I'm really not sweating any of the schedule or which polyphonic choir to join. I'm going to hook Wendy up with MAC, Singing Mum of San Diego, and hopefully she, W and MJB can become the new Tres Amigas.
What I'm not looking forward to is hauling around the magnificent campus of Loyola on these. Parental warning: the following photo is not for the sqeamish. This colloquium will be the Bee's Knees, but these here knees need kneading if I'm to make for next Sunday's Brunch.

But I digress. The bow ties are ready, the case of fine wine will be in the residence hall on time tomorrow. Oh darn, I forgot cuff links....and all my daughters are in California. I suppose that means a brief stop at Bloomingdales or Neiman-Marcus! (Just kidding, I'll find some at Walgreens most likely.)
So intrepid readers, this first installment now is put to bed! Bis morgan....

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reconstructing Sacred and Liturgical Music Practices
During the Pioneer Days of the First California Parish

On page 60 of “Apostle of the Valley” author Sister Mary Thomas,OP tells of a concert or “entertainment” that was to benefit the building of “the Catholic Church” (St. Mary’s) on February 13, 1872. (The parish was formally founded in 1851.) The concert was to also conclude with a dance as well. The review of the event mentioned that there were both vocal and instrumental selections programmed. Apparently the concert portion was received with mixed reviews, due to the apparent poor acoustics of the venue. The musicians, though, were applauded for their stalwart efforts to execute the performance in “a faithful manner.” And because of this, they received frequent applause and, to the reviewer, “entire satisfaction” on the part of the audience.
From this account I would infer the following:
It would not be uncommon for a wide variety of styles and types of music to be done, ie.
*Stephen Foster songs, Chopin piano pieces, reels and other dance pieces, etc.
*Perhaps some sacred solos, such as the Bach “Ave Maria” might have been sung, but not group song.
*Perhaps some choral singing by a small group, or light chamber music. But if a string quartet were available, I would think that would have been reported specifically with “fanfare” noted.
Elsewhere it is reported that music was initially included in the curriculum of the early Academy of the Nativity School. On page 88, however, when enrollment was sufficiently large to denominate students by gender, the females students were put under the charge of a “Miss Hattie Demming,” who is then described as a “fine musician” who played the organ at both Catholic and other denominational services. She also “taught music to some of her pupils in the academy so successfully that they, too, were able to accompany the singing during Mass.” (page 89) Unfortunately, Miss Demming’s tenure was shortened at the parish and school due to poor health.
This is very important as it clearly indicates that whatever forms of music, such as chant, hymns or polyphony, were accompanied by an organ, most likely a pump or bellows type of small, one manuel instrument.
The next definitive account regarding music regards the dedication of the new church in Porterville in May, 1892, presumably St. Anne’s Parish. The author writes, “Music was provided by a quartet who went in a special conveyance from Visalia; they rendered ‘Peter’s Mass in D’ ‘ in a beautiful and impressive manner.’” This likewise speaks to a positive and consistent evolution of “music ministry (sic)” at St. Mary’s in that the quartet had to be a choral ensemble of sufficient merit and repute that they were conveyed from Visalia in some manner as would a modern celebrity be transported by a limousine. I will make efforts to research the work cited, but I suspect it will be extremely difficult to track down an actual composition. I suspect the reportage is at fault: “Peter’s” most likely refers to some Mass in honor of St. Peter of the papal office, rather than a composer named “Peter.” The fact that the Mass setting is in “D (Major) also indicates that it might even be a work contemporaneous to the era, in that works after the classical renaissance (which were modal) were often given titles that indicated their “tonality,” in this case D Major.
As was mentioned, perhaps some research into source libraries from Philadelphia, Los Angeles or Monterrey might turn up some semblance of such a work. The real disappointing factor is that the seminary that Fr. Dade retired to also eventually shuttered, so we have no records of specific musical practices, if any, were taught those ordered seminarians.
One needs to keep in the back of one’s mind a number of cultural backgrounds at play here:
*Though there were clearly distinctions between types of Masses said or sung during these eras, such as Missa Lecta (what we would call a “Low Mass” or a “Deprived Mass,” Missa Cantata (a sung Mass, or “High Mass’ at which the priest sings portions, thus the designation “high” for singing, “low” for speaking; and the Solemn Mass, at which everything save the sermon was sung.
*Father Dade, like many immigrant Irish priests, also was likely influenced by a number of cultural traditions. Those would include a preference for the Low Mass, or perhaps a Low Mass that was surrounded with devotional practices such as Benedictions, Novenas and the like in which so-called “popular or devotional” hymns were congregationally sung. And this practice could also have been grafted onto the richer High and Solemn Mass formulae as well.
I have two volumes by American Catholic hymnologist, J. Vincent Higgonson,
A HISTORY OF AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNALS and A HANDBOOK FOR AMERICAN CATHOLIC HYMNALS that chronicle virtually all musical aspects of Catholic worship from colonial times to the twentieth century. So, any reconstruction of what might have been heard in Philadelphia in the 1840’s by Fr. Dade can be speculated upon and prepared with some historical accuracy.
As our parish approaches its 150th anniversary celebrations, it will interesting to participate in historical re-creations of musical performances that were part of our city and parish societies during the Civil War era.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Have you ever heard the "de Angelis" thusly sung?

Get Your Own Free Playlist.