Thursday, August 18, 2016

Polyphony Summer School in Ireland

We choir directors have a duty to pass on the REAL treasures of church music to the next generation ... and impart the musical skills which will enable them to continue this wonderful tradition... It is their rightful inheritance. Musicians and liturgists of the Catholic Church throughout the world of the duty and responsibility we all have to pass on to a new generation the treasures of church music protected by Vatican II and by many papal documents. Let the young singers experience and come to love this music. They are the Future … they are wonderful and highly talented young people! Do not deprive them of their heritage by offering them less than the best!”

These are the words of Dr Ite O’Donovan, director of the Dublin-based Lassus Scholars, whom we have featured many times here on NLM. She writes this à propos of a program which she led last week at St Kevin’s Church in Dublin, (home of the Dublin Latin Mass Chaplaincy,) the Orlandus Summer School for Choir and Organ; she was joined by vocal coach, Dr Imelda Drumm, and organ tutor Dr Paul McKeever. The program is geared towards young people from ages 14 to 26, with a view to introducing them to the glorious treasures of church music when they were young; as Dr O’Donovan writes, too often the parents take their children out of choir when they reach age 13/14 for the sake of sports and other activities.

The teachers were assisted by some of the older and very committed members of the Piccolo Lasso (Little Lassus) singers, who could all read music but who had not yet been singing polyphony - the Lassus Scholars of the future! As you will see from the series of 4 videos they really did very well - they even sang Isaac for the Communio. On Thursday August 11th, they began work on ALL the music which they were able to sing only 4 days at Mass on August 14th, as you can see in this video; some singers from the outside had never sight-read choral music before, though most had some experience in playing an instrument.

Below are the videos for all 4 days of the summer school, (3-5 mins each) with a little commentary by Dr O’Donovan on what was done each day. These show the progress made from the very first session on Thursday morning to the performance at Holy Mass on Sunday. They also gave a concert - extra motets including Allegri Miserere - and organ pieces!

Day 1: Twenty-two young singers from many parts of Dublin, Co Meath and Co Louth gather together at the Orlandus Summer School 2016. While about half have them have had an excellent musical training as members of Piccolo Lasso, very few of them have performed polyphony before and almost all the repertoire is new to everyone. This video is taken from the very first session.

Day 2: Much progress was made in learning Palestrina’s Missa Brevis in the choral sessions. Other new pieces included Tallis’ If ye love me, Lassus’ Benedictus from the Missa Ecco amor colei, Panem de caelo from Isaac’s Choralis Constantinus and Allegri’s Miserere. Motets learned on day 1 were revised, including Pitoni’s Cantate Domino and Victoria’s Ave Maria. Many of the young participants availed of the opportunity of having individual singing lessons with Dr Imelda Drumm and organ tuition with Dr Paul McKeever. Excellent progress was made by all!

Day 3: All the participants had an intensive rehearsal schedule during the morning. One cannot praise them highly enough for their concentration and commitment which enabled them to bring 10 new pieces of polyphony to performance standard in 3 days. On top of that, the young singers had to learn to read/sing the Gregorian Chant Introit and Alleluia, short psalm-tone settings of the other Propers and regular chants such as the Asperges and Credo III. And to crown it all we were working on Allegri’s Miserere to sing at the Sunday afternoon concert. Amazing!

Day 4: The culmination of three days of rehearsals with two performances given by the participants at the Orlandus Summer School 2016 – morning Mass and afternoon concert. We have a saying in Ireland - “Mol an óige agus tiocfaidh sí - Praise the youth and he will come.” On Sunday Morning, August 14th, the Orlandus Summer School Choir gave stunning performances of Gregorian chant and Polyphony during the Mass for the 13th Sunday after Pentecost at St Kevin’s Church, Latin Mass Chaplaincy in Dublin.

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