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Chant Workshop By Institute Choirmaster

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Since the Institute’s last Chant workshop seven years ago in Chicago, both the level of interest and commitment to Sacred Music have clearly grown in all apostolates. The spiritual aspects of singing sacred music were emphasized during the Workshop, particularly by meditating on the prayer texts of the Second Sunday of Lent and by singing each day the Divine Office with the Institute clergy. On Sunday, in addition to the Gregorian Chant propers, the choir’s rendition of Mass in G “St. Crucis” by Joseph Rheinberger and Agnus Dei by Claudio Casciolini were sublime offerings of the Church’s prayers. The feedback from attendees was overwhelmingly positive. We thank three of them for graciously sharing their impressions:

Personal Accounts of the Workshop  Teresa Chisholm (Detroit, MI)

The Workshop was an excellent mix of instruction, practice, spiritual talks, prayer, and socialization with fellow sacred music enthusiasts from around the country.  What a blessing to be immersed in the spiritual life of the Institute in such a glorious Oratory, and to sing from the choir loft with the other participants for Sunday’s Solemn High Mass. My husband and I returned to Detroit with an increased love for Our Lord and a desire to sing with greater skill for Him. 

Ashley Hayworth (St. Louis, MO)

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sacred Music workshop at St. Francis de Sales Oratory from 3/10- 3/12. I was struck by two specific thoughts during this workshop. One was brought to my attention during a spiritual conference by Canon Huberfeld: the reminder of how important it is to take the time to study the text we sing. Only in chant does the melody express the Words of our Lord so precisely. From the key the words are sung to the emphasis on the accents, this workshop was a great showcase of the true genius of singing Chant. Just as all the actions of the Mass have purpose and meaning, so does everything within the Chant. It was hard and challenging and so worth the effort.

The other thought was how much the world needs this music today. Over 85 people from across the country came out for this. In a world with so many distractions and superficial entertainments, this very physical effort – to slow down and focus on the task at hand – was refreshing and energizing. It can be overwhelming at first: learning how to direct, learning the notes, trying to express the emotion of the words. However, in this effort, we attempt to grow a little more perfect and that much closer to Our Lord. It was incredible to work and sing with so many individuals who truly cared about this music and were passionate to take this thoughtfulness.

Cassandra Sciortino (Oakland, CA)

The Sacred Music Workshop integrated the profound devotional preparation for singing chant with practical applications of its technique. Packed into this short weekend were topics ranging from chironomy (directing) to solfege sight singing to subtle elaborations on dynamics; students came away with a rigorous and thorough sense of the depth, complexity and devotional power of chant and the kinds of practical skills necessary to sing it faithfully in a spirit of prayer.  Beyond chant, students also participated in the power and beauty of polyphony and the different dynamics appropriate to this slightly younger devotional musical form.

The conference also cultivated an atmosphere of solidarity toward a common purpose of returning sacred music to its profound mystical and devotional origins.


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