Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Report on Gregorian Chant in Britain

The following report recently came into the NLM from one of our readers on some developments surrounding the growth of interest and use of Gregorian chant in Britain.

The past few months have seen a renewed interest in Gregorian Chant in the UK. Supported and enthused by the Holy Father in his recent Motu proprio and his writings on the music in the liturgy, and following on from a major Chant festival in St George's Cathedral, London, sponsored by the Academy of Saint Cecilia, and the establishment of the website www.gregorianchant.org.uk, cathedrals and parishes across the UK and Ireland have begun to reintroduce the Chant into their liturgies. Chant days have been held in Belfast, London, Ashford, Barking, Dublin Christ Church Cathedral (Anglican), Ardingly College, Brentwood Cathedral and Ryde Abbey, and forthcoming workshops are planned for the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, St George's Cathedral, Southwark, St Anselm's Church, Darftord and further workshops in Brentwood Cathedral.

The most recent event, held for the Music Department at Brentwood Cathedral, was directed by Nick Gale, who runs www.gregorianchant.org.uk and directed the workshops mentioned above, and involved teaching the fine Cathedral Choir the propers for last Sunday (in the Ordinary Form) and parts of the ordinary of the Mass sung to chant.

The Cathedral Choir also sang parts of the Missa Papae Marcelli of Palestrina, under the direction of Andrew Wright, Director of Music for Brentwood Diocese and Cathedral.

The afternoon was spent working on the chants for Vespers which was sung, in Latin, by the Cathedral Choir under the direction of Nick Gale, using the Liber Usualis and the new Antiphonale Monasticum of Solesmes. Vespers concluded with Benediction and a performance of Tallis's O sacrum convivium and Guerrero's Ave virgo. The organist, James Devor, played the closing voluntary, Joie et clarte from Messiaen's Le Corps glorieux.

The day was a great success and will be followed by a further workshop at the Cathedral in November, and a day of Chant for Lent and Easter, together with the RSCM, again in Brentwood in the New Year. The CCDM (Catholic Cathedral Directors of Music Conference UK & Ireland) will be holding a conference in Salford Cathedral in October and will conclude with a celebration of Vespers, sung to chant under the direction of Nick Gale. The CCDM conference will also meet in St Georges Cathedral, Southwark, in the New Year and will focus on the place of the Chant in the liturgy.

This is all very encouraging and marks a turning point in Catholic music in the UK. Futher details of workshops can be found at www.gregorianchant.org.uk, as well as contact details for anyone wishing to arrange a similar workshop, either in the UK or abroad.

Looking at the website in question, one can see the following forthcoming events:

Saturday 24 October: Chant Study Day (lecture, workshops and Vespers) jointly for the Catholic Cathedral Deans' Conference of England and Wales and the Catholic Cathedral Directors of Music Conference of Great Britain and Ireland, Salford Cathedral

Friday 6 November Chant Workshop for Coloma Convent School, St George's Cathedral (private event)

Saturday 14 November. Chant Workshop (open to all). 11am, St Anselm's Church, West Hill, Dartford. £10, bring packed lunch. Day closes with Gregorian Mass at 6pm. Please contact the Parish Administrator to book a place (01322) 220075.

Saturday 21 November: Chant Study Day for the Diocese of Brentwood, Brentwood Cathedral. Contact Brentwood Cathedral directly for details here.

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