Wednesday, July 02, 2008

A Week of Musical Heaven In Chicago!

I participated in the annual Church Music Association of America (CMAA) Sacred Music Colloquium in Chicago during the week before last. It was billed as "7 Days of Musical Heaven", and that description wasn't far off at all. I had the opportunity to work with some world-class experts in sacred music, priests who were veritable fonts of liturgical knowledge, and make some great new friends. This year's Colloquium was held at Loyola University in Chicago, which was an excellent venue. But in addition, being there was a nifty experience for me, as I had lived just four blocks North of Loyola for three years after college. So it was kind of a homecoming for me as well. Loyola is set right on Lake Michigan, and is quite picturesque:



(Note: photos have been kept small to make loading of the blog less taxing - all photos can be viewed full-size by clicking on them.)

I had looked forward to going to the Colloquium. But after the first couple of days, I realized that I had really needed something like it. This thought struck me after my second rehearsal with Dr. Mahrt's polyphonic choir. I thought, "Wow! I really needed this." Being surrounded by, and being in the midst of making, so much beautiful music was a spiritual tonic.

The liturgies at the Colloquium were beautiful and inspiring. There was an even mix of Masses celebrated according to the Missal of Paul VI and that of Pius V (Extraordinary Form). What they all shared, regardless of form, was reverence, devotion, and superlatively beautiful music. All the liturgies were celebrated in Loyola's Madonna Della Strada Chapel, which is quite lovely, as well as having great acoustics:


A View of the Chapel



The Interior of the Chapel


On Thursday, June 19, Fr. Robert Pasley celebrated a sung Mass in the Extraordinary Form (Missa Cantata). Fr. Pasley is the Rector of a Extraordinary Form parish in the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey.


Fr. Pasley Incensing the Altar


On Friday, June 20, we had the privilege of having Bishop Salvatore Cordileone (auxiliary of San Diego) celebrate Mass in the Ordinary form. It was a votive Mass for the Holy Father, and so, fittingly, one of the polyphonic choirs sang Palestrina's Tu Es Petrus ("You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church..." Matthew 16:18-19):


Tu Es Petrus
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)

But one of the biggest moments for me, personally, came on Wednesday, June 18, for on this day I was the principal celebrant for a sung Requiem Mass in the Ordinary Form, celebrated ad orientem, with complete Gregorian propers. It was truly a privilege for me to celebrate this liturgy, and one of the highlights of my priesthood thus far. I was ably assisted by Fr. Scott Haynes and several servers from the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius. Here am I, Fr. Haynes, and some of the servers getting ready for Mass:


(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ostrowski)


Here am I with the concelebrants, processing into the church (Photos courtesy of Roseanne Sullivan):


Note the black vestments!



Preparing to incense the altar.


And of course, while we were processing in and incensing, the women's schola sang the Introit, Requiem Aeternam (Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord...):


Requiem Aeternam
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)



Chanting the Collect


Here is the men's schola chanting the Gradual, Requiem Aeternam:


Requiem Aeternam - Gradual
(Recording by Aristotle Esguerra, edited and optimized by me)

Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord,
and may perpetual light shine upon them.
V.The righteous shall be remembered forever;
he shall never fear evil tidings.



A good view of the sanctuary while I am chanting the Gospel.
(photo courtesy of Jeffrey Ostrowski)


In addition to the chant, there was excellent polyphony as well. One of the polyphonic choirs, directed by Horst Bucholz, sang Hernando Franco's Circumdederunt Me at the Offertory:


Circumdederunt Me
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)

The groanings of the dead have surrounded me,
the sorrows of the netherworld have compassed me about.


Here I am chanting the Canon:


(photos courtesy of Roseanne Sullivan)


During Communion another polyphonic choir, under the direction of Scott Turkington, sang one of my favorite pieces of all time, William Byrd's Ave Verum Corpus (Hail true body...):




Ave Verum Corpus
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)

Hail true body, born of the Virgin Mary,
truly suffering, sacrificed on the cross for mankind:
From whose pierced side flowed blood and water;
Be for us a foretaste in the final trial.
O sweet, O merciful, O Jesus, Son of Mary,
Have mercy on me. Amen.


We concluded Mass, and the ministers and I processed out, with the singing of the In Paradisum, sung by the whole congregation. Hearing this sung by some 250 people sent shivers down my spine!


In Paradisum
(Recording by Carl Dierschow, edited and optimized by me)

May the angels lead you into paradise:
may the martyrs receive you at your coming,
and lead you into the holy city, Jerusalem.

May the choir of angels receive you,
and with Lazarus, who once was poor,
may you have everlasting rest.



The congregation, ministers, and myself as we began the Recession.
(photo courtesy of Jeffery Ostrowski)


This was just one of the liturgies that week! And, musically speaking, it was perhaps the most "low-key" of all the liturgies. For real magnificence, I'll have another post up soon with photos and recordings of the Solemn Pontifical Vespers from the Friday evening of Colloquium week.