Monday, July 14, 2008

Juventutem at WYD, so far

Shawn posted some images from the Solemn Pontifical Mass with Archbishop Denis Hart before the World Youth Day pilgrims of Juventutem moved from Melbourne to Sydney. The Juventutem-Australia site has more detail.

Here are two interesting releases from the chant classes being taught by David Molloy:


Nicholas Rynne, 27, has been in the Good Shepherd Seminary, Sydney, for the past 3 and a half years and recently completed the Juventutem Gregorian chant workshops taught by David Molloy.

"I love the music," Rynne says. "Chant encapsulates the artistic/aesthetic and spiritual traditions of the Catholic Church and I wanted to learn more about it."

He'd first studied Gregorian chant at a workshop given by Tony Vaughan in Brisbane several years ago. "Then I joined the Schola Cantorum of Brisbane, directed by Vaughan, and we sang at various religious services. When I joined the seminary in Sydney, in 2006, I became a member of the Seminary Schola and was keen to sing as much chant as I could, especially since the Second Vatican Council had asked that chant be given 'pride of place' in the Church's liturgy.

"I am excitedly anticipating the Mass at St Mary's Cathedral during World Youth Day for the dedication of the new altar when seminarians from Melbourne's Corpus Christi Seminary and Sydney's Seminary of the Good Shepherd will be singing all of the chant.

"This means we will chant for the reception of the Holy Father; the procession to the sanctuary; the antiphon and psalm when the relics are deposited in the new altar; the antiphon and psalm for the anointing, incensing and lighting of the new altar; and during communion and at the end of Mass."

Rynne says he attended the Juventutem workshops because he wanted to learn how to read the medieval notation and review the "Sol-fa" system.

"An important thing I learnt was the use of tempo and phrasing (called the 'arsis' and 'thesis'). A big problem is that many people perform chant slowly and without any dynamics – there's no undulation in the sound. Consequently, many people think all Gregorian chant is depressing and dull. But the music is alive and full of subtle nuance if it is read and performed properly.

"When I sing Gregorian chant I feel it's a deeply aesthetically and spiritually pleasing exercise."

Rynne said he would like to further his chant studies by doing more work on the "Sol-fa" system, and learning the Gregorian "modes".

"I'm being sent to a new seminary after World Youth Day - the Pontifical North American College in Rome, so I am hoping the Schola at the College practises a bit of chant and that there might be opportunities for further study in Rome."
More details: Juventutem, visit To study Gregorian chant in Sydney after WYD, contact David Molloy,

Here is another:


Hindu Prasad Kota, 30, has been attending Juventutem's Gregorian chant classes to "see what it's about".

"I'd never heard it before I set foot in the door. It's a beautiful experience," Kota said. "The music has so much depth. But I'm not a good singer – I mainly listen during the class."

He attends a Hindu temple and has also been going to St Joseph's, Camperdown, for the past six months.

Kota moved here from Andhra Pradesh, India, four years ago and is doing a PhD in pharmacy at the University of Sydney. "I'm interested in Christian culture and traditions."

He's finding it difficult to pronounce Latin words and is interested in studying ecclesiastical Latin. "We have a liturgical language, Sanskrit, which we use for all our chants. Latin is not an easy language for me – it's a completely new experience. I'd like to study it further."

Kota has also registered as a volunteer for WYD08. "I'd like to go to Juventutem Vespers on July 16 but I'm not sure what my volunteer duties will be."

Juventutem's two official WYD08 events will be held on Wednesday, July 16, at St Augustine's Church, Balmain. US chant expert, Scott Turkington, will teach a Gregorian chant masterclass from 2pm, and then the group will sing Vespers with Cardinal George Pell at 4pm.

In preparation for the chant masterclass, 30 people from different parishes throughout Sydney, of various ages and nationalities, have been learning Gregorian chant on Saturday mornings, 9am-12.30pm at St Augustine's, Balmain.

The sessions, $30 each (which includes a textbook), are being run by Australian church musician, David Molloy, an experienced organist, choir director and teacher who has spent more than 40 years learning sacred music. Over the years, his studies have taken him to Austria, France, Hungary, Italy, England and America.

Parishioners are learning the technical terms, Latin pronunciation and the So-Fa (Do Re Mi) scale. The singing is taught with emphasis on the right words so it has a prayerful meaning and encourages internal participation with the heart and soul.

Once WYD is over, as a long-term goal, it's hoped there will be enough interest generated to start a Gregorian chant organisation so sacred music could be taught on a larger scale.

"Pope Pius X in his famous motu proprio on Sacred Music written in 1903 requested that Higher Institutions of Sacred Music be established for the proper teaching of Sacred Music," said David Molloy. "This request was reiterated by the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s. It has been taken seriously in some other countries.

"In Austria, each diocese has its own church-run Conservatorium of Music to teach liturgical music. In Germany there are several church music schools – the most famous one being in Regensburg. Paris has its Gregorian Institute as well as the Schola Cantorum, and in the US, courses are taught at places such as the Catholic University of America. Rome has the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music - but Australia doesn't have similar schools. Perhaps it's time to take this very seriously and establish schools of liturgical music. Perhaps such schools could be attached to seminaries, Catholic universities or other established Catholic institutions."

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