Friday, September 17, 2010

Magister: Noises from the Sistine Chapel

Further to the recent story about rumours of a new director coming for the Sistine Chapel Choir, Sandro Magister has offered further notes and commentary on the matter on Chiesa today: Musical Intermission. Noises from the Sistine Chapel.

In that piece, Magister comments:

On the eve of Benedict XVI's departure for the United Kingdom, the rumors swelled in Rome that there is about to be a change of director of the Sistine Chapel choir: the choir that by statute accompanies the pontifical liturgies.

For many years, since its "perpetual" director, maestro Domenico Bartolucci, was tossed out in 1997, the choir of the Sistine Chapel has been only a shadow of its former greatness.

At the time of the ouster, the only curial official who came to the defense of Bartolucci – a tremendous interpreter of the Roman school of polyphony that has its paragon in Palestrina – was then cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

With Bertolucci gone, the papal Masses were brutally purged of Gregorian chant and classical polyphony at the behest of the directors of John Paul II's Masses, led by then master of ceremonies Piero Marini.

They called Giuseppe Liberto to direct the Sistine choir, a post he still occupies.

Since Ratzinger became pope, the Sistine choir has timidly returned to performing some fragments of the classical repertoire, but without raising itself above an invincible mediocrity.

But if – as is now said – Liberto were to be succeeded by Massimo Palombella, it would be even worse for the Sistine choir.

Read the entire piece on Chiesa.

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