Monday, June 24, 2013

The Catholic Liturgical Music University

The Sacred Music Colloquium ended yesterday with intense emotional exuberance on all sides. The closing Mass was the parish Mass of the Cathedral of the Madeleine, and there was standing room only. It was an ordinary form Mass with an English ordinary and full Latin propers and motets. The final motet was the winning setting of the assigned text (more on that in another post).

As I spoke to some attendees of the 210 who came, I began to see a bigger picture that I had previously missed. Ten years ago, this program taught chant and polyphony to about 30 attendees. Today, it has vastly expanded in every direction. The faculty included 25 experts in various fields. The liturgical events included: OF English with full English propers and ordinary, OF English with melismatic propers and Latin ordinary, EF Requiem Mass with polyphonic propers and ordinary, EF ferial Mass with chanted propers, OF Latin Mass of the BVM with polyphonic ordinary and chanted propers, chanted Vespers with polyphonic Magnificat.

Then there were the breakouts on Psalm setting, chant in various other ritual traditions, priest training, vocal training, organ improvisation, vernacular propers, parish music management, software development, and much more. And the celebrants themselves included Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth of ICEL, and Father Jonathan Gaspar of Boston.

Really, the full range of what took place extends far beyond this. New friendships were formed and old ones renewed. The event also put together world-class musicians with priests and laity from all over the world, and provided plenty of time for these groups to talk to each other and gain a great appreciation of the struggles and issues that confront us all in these changing times.

If you look at the full range of what was available here, you see much more than a conference. It is a university-like setting for a full week. It is a program that is otherwise unavailable anywhere in the world. Just in the last five years, more than 1,000 people have come through the program and come back to their parishes with a renewed commitment to excellence. It is the result of privately funded efforts -- operating on a shoestring budget really -- and a tremendous amount of passion and love for the cause. It is a wonderful thing to see and experience.

Next year's event will move from Salt Lake to Indianapolis, Indiana.

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