Thursday, February 19, 2009

Residential Chant Course in England

I am pleased to announce an exciting new event being put on by the St Catherine's Trust in England: a residential Chant course, in the context of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (the Traditioinal Mass).

It is to take place in parallel with the well-established Family Retreat which the SCT runs in the Easter vacation. This will be the fourth such Family Retreat, a retreat designed to make it possible for parents to attend (and derive benefit from it) with children of all ages. In 2008 it was attended by 150 people. The Retreat giver is Fr Andrew Southwll, who will be assisted by Fr Thomas Crean OP.

The Director of the Chant course will be Nick Gale, who is both Director of Music at St George's Cathedral in Southwark, and Head of Academic Music at the London Oratory School. (This school, one of the best Catholic state schools in the country, is associated with the London Oratory; Fr George Bowen of the Oratory is its Chaplain.)

Mr Gale's website tells us that

[h]e has...studied Gregorian Chant at the world-famous Monastery of St Pierre de Solesmes in France under Dom Daniel Saulnier, Head of Chant Studies at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgical Music in Rome. He is an honorary fellow of and secretary to the Academy of St Cecilia.

Nick Gale has directed Gregorian scholas across Europe, recent highlights including directing Solemn Mass (ordinary form) and Solemn Vespers and Benediction at Westminster Cathedral, Solemn Vespers and Benediction in Cologne Cathedral and Solemn High Mass (extraordinary form) at the FSSP Church of Ss. Trinita dei Pellegrini in Rome. Recent tours include Germany, Italy and the US. He has also conducted choirs for a number of Solemn High masses for the Latin Mass Society of England and Wales.

The Retreat (picture from a previous year above) involves a great deal of singing: there is Missa Cantata each day, Vespers and Benediction on Saturday, and Compline on Friday and Saturday. This provides the Chant Course with its material. It will not simply be a matter of note-bashing from the Liber Usualis, however: Mr Gale writes

I would like to spend a good deal of time with the Schola introducing them to Dom Cardine's semiological approach to the Chant, which renders a far more fluid, text-based performance - very much as you would hear it at the community of St Cecilia at Ryde, and with the schola at Solesmes.

This will be based on the Graduale Triplex, a work which is - literally! - a closed book for most singers in England. This is therefore a particularly special opportunity for those interested in the Chant in this country.

Mr Gale is also promising us talk on the spiritual significance of chant, to be delivered to the whole Retreat.

The dates the year are

Friday 26th to Sunday 29th March (Passion Sunday).

at Ardingly College, Haywards Heath, West Sussex, RH17 6SQ.

It is open to men and boys over 16 with at least some experience of singing chant.

Prices: no extra fee for members of a family attending the Retreat.
For a single person: £50:
Special rates for groups from a particular schola.

The picture shows Nick Gales with his own singers. For more on him see here; for more on the St Catherine's Trust Family Retreat see here (see here for a report on last year's). For an application form please email

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