Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Abp. Sample, meet Portland. Portland, Abp. Sample. A "melo" blow by blow.

The following is a play by play description of the progress of the installation of Archbishop Sample's Installation Mass as of 2pm PST. Imagine I sound like Vin Scully mixed with the late great Chick Hearn. Only then will it make sense. It took a while for the web live-stream to kick in, so.....

The first musical impression I have is that the tempo of Jesus Christ is Ris’n…lacked forward momentum, and seemed to tire to the end of the pulse throughout. Loved the third verse organ arrangement, subtle and surely played.
The Choir (under Ms. Westhoff-Johnson) and Brass exhibited fine training and were not “pushing” volumes.

Noticed Abp. Vlazy’s first reference to HHF as the “new archbishop of Rome,” unlike Abp. Vigana’s clear first reference to him as “pope.”

In a more humorous vein, some have quipped if HHS Francis will have a “Pirate Themed Mass?” Maybe that question will still be at play with the “fidgety” bishop "epistle side" behind the papal nuncio, resplendent with a black eyepatch.

(“Shepherd’s staff….” “people of God”….As the “heart longs for…Prayers of the Faithful or Universal Prayer, hello” sigh) how I love commentators.”sigh

The Greatest Hits Collection of Triduum (the Duruflé, Palestrina…) also rendered cleanly and without affectations) definitely established the Catholic cultural ethos well.

I’m happy that Randy DeBruyn is getting some just props in this (his MR3 new Mass), his retirement year from OCP. It was a safe, convenient choice for the setting, over say Mayernik’s more challenging setting.

Now there’s an irony: all prelates should “sample” Sample’s tenor voice when canting orations and collects. I didn’t hear the ascending whole step Amen cadence coming from the tone he used, though.

The new chant for the responsorial was rendered well, though it seemed a bit mensurate (did anyone find icti patterns?) and the presence of two “animateurs” was wholly unnecessary as the verses were chorally sung. In that regard, a fauxbourdon or two would have been most welcome.

Due to losing the live stream, I didn’t hear the Gospel Acclamation, arghh.

But I think the program listed Alleluia VI, fine by me.

I’m not a competent, qualified homilist, so I won’t respond to all but one little aside, the order in which Abp. Sample cited Benedict XVI first in his mention of the dictatorship of relativity in our global morals.

Another irony crossed my mind: is it also a coincidence that there’s been a very recent announcement of the dating of the Turin shroud and the bishop’s motto demanding we behold the FACE of the Living Christ. I’ve always marveled at how the Shroud is a true prism to reflect upon the living face of Christ, even if in an iconic manner.

I wonder if Abp. might have actually benefited by invoking an actual silent prayer from his flock, and avoiding the requisite applause. OTOH- he is on top of his singing game, leading the response as much as the quire!

Exaudi nos” would have done fine in the polyglot UP as a response as I didn’t hear any Urdu! ;-) In addition the response seemed a bit major seventh augmented,, tee hee. Under the Indigenous Native intention, did anyone else hear the organist go into a pentatonic background? It’s time to start talking about the purpose of a lingua franca for such ceremonies, IMO. This most lengthy of liturgical accretions only has its civil counterpoint in waiting in line at the local DMV. “Okay, who’s next, who’ve we left out?”

Okay, Offertory now, right? Still within the first blush of the Octave of Easter, yes? So, UBI and SICUT have a direct association. But the Beibl Ave Maria? Does not the cathedral have a Regina Coeli handy, Rheinberger, anyone? Or is this, in point of fact, a “Greatest Hits” approach so often opted for by eager DM’s? And now I’m noticing some of the helden baritones singing the tenor lines of the Biebl in a vocal manner similar to a well known basilica in the capitol of Italy, or actually in the country within its city limits. Seriously, singing the Biebl at that moment, in SATB and with those vocal aspects results in distraction. Sorry, just saying.

Brass Händel, anyone? No moment left unfilled by sound. (Where e’er you walk…)

Bishop tends to aspirate between certain vowel-led syllables, but his pitch is pretty darn tight! (Sursum corda) We should have another Chant Intensive in New Orleans, pay his ticket and then the good fathers there can supply him with allergen-free incense. (It is out there, you just have to look for it.)

I appreciate one comment in the USTREAM box about the over-emphasis by the announcers of the “supper” notion of the Eucharist,’ to whit:

During the Mass, Catholics celebrate 4 things:

1- Renew our Covenant with God through the Eucharist
2- Re-Present the Sacrifice of Jesus on the Cross for the Forgiveness of Sins
3- Remember the Passover Meal of Jesus at the Last Supper
4- Partake in the Heavenly Banquet continually celebrated in Heaven.

Of course I had hoped he would continue singing the narrative in its entirety. The missal “mysterium” and “per ipsum” when chanted require a complimentary setting of the three acclamations.
Again, loving Dr. Randy, setting the acclamations in an artful as well as accessible manner is a task with a doubtful outcome. If the result is less than beautiful, no matter the length, then we have failed in our obligatitons.

I wonder how many USA clerics are watching this? The foremost mandate to chant the Our Father is being modeled very well. But if it doesn’t show up on Rocco, oh well.

His oration modality definitely shifts, and it became apparent with the last “the Lord be with you” before the Agnus Dei., whose third verse had some definite barbershop harmonies as I heard them (not as in Samuel Barber.)

Well, okay, a choral communio…when exactly is it to start again? Upon the communication of the celebrant. Oops.
I, too, appreciate Fr. Schiavone’s solid AMEN: EL CUERPO DE CRISTO, but this rendition, tempered to organ and about 33rpm instead of the 45rpm it needs, is somewhat rendered impotent with the rhythmic aspects that the much debated guitar/bass/piano rhythm section brings to the piece. Again, if we have the impetus to polyglot (verb) the Liturgy of the Word by multiple vernaculars, then it only makes sense to idiomatically represent the music in the genre in which it was created. And why is there some sort of need to keep the tempo of the Hurd UBI brisk. Shouldn’t it be directly referenced to the same freedom and languid tempo as was used in the Duruflé performance early? There is just as much opportunity to treat Hurd with rubato as the chant or other settings.
Same thing for Hurd’s “Come to Me and Drink,” we ask for our contemporary composers to write more chant-inspired lines, and then we bind their feet with a solid metronomic pulse. These aren’t examples of Catholic elevator music, but these three Communion songs seem to me only to have reached the second level of choral “affect,” namely mastery of pitch, vowel uniformity, blend/balance, dynamics, etc., but woefully lacking in breaking the fourth wall of suspension of disbelief, or in our realm, a mystagogia. I’ve always found the Palestrina (pars primo) SICUT a “romantic” setting rife with profound depth of feeling and inspiration. Well, Hurd’s “Come to me…” incorporates Ps.42 as well. But you wouldn’t have noticed any correspondence between their performance renditions here.

The Byrd-very well done. But, again in context, one has to be honest and say this is not either a devotional nor a liturgical calendar appropriate choice for this (greatest hit) work to be offered. But it is light years better than having some ersatz Pavarotti belting Franck's “Panis Angelicus” in St. Pat’s NYC while the red light’s on the camera.

All ye who are obsessed with GIRM issues: notice 1. a “communio was sung, 2. three option fours, 3. a choral motet (presumably another option four) and  4. the Nettleton as the “requisite” congregational hymn of praise. Still and all, not executed poorly or without too much rococo froo-froo.
I do appreciate it that Ms. Angela Westhoff-Johnson did prepare her singers and the brass ensemble to prepare pieces to accompany portions of action that take longer than expected.
Words, words, words…..”Eucharist” means “to give thanks.” Don’t prompt applause without a really compelling reason. Just sayin’.

See, he stayed in mode for the final blessing! Even with the yoo-hoos!
It’s my considered opinion that the non-solemn version of SALVE REGINA can be moved by the choir under the conscious direction of the director who is schooled both in practice and chironony.
LLANFAIR, great choice for a recessional: to sing or not to sing, that is not the question!

It’s been a pleasure serving as your liturgical musical attendant, thank you for flying MELOFLUENT AIR to this, your heavenly desitination.