Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Upcoming UK Conference on Dominicans in the Middle Ages

From the website of the Dominican Friars of England and Scotland comes this news of a conference to be held at Oxford from Sept. 10-12, on “The Influences of the Dominican Order in the Middle Ages.” Among the topics covered will be some aspects of the early Dominican liturgical tradition, especially in regards to music and the production of liturgical books. The organizer of the conference, Dr Eleanor Giraud of Lincoln College, Oxford, explains in an interview. Information about registration, fees and location is available by clicking here.

“One of the distinctive aspects about Dominican chant is its brevity in comparison to other chant repertories: the Dominicans tended to eliminate repetitions of notes or melodic patterns, and cut down on extensive melismas (that is, several notes sung to one syllable, e.g. saaaaanctus). This was probably related to the focus in Dominican life on dedicating oneself to study, even over worship. One of the early Master Generals of the Order, Humbert of Romans, said ‘A short Office with study is better than a long [Office] with study hindered’ and he even recommended that if the brothers accidentally slept in, then the Cantor should hurry things along and shorten the length of the readings at Matins! So it’s no surprise that the early Dominicans sought to cut down the length of their chant. ...

As the conference is interdisciplinary, there is probably something here for everyone! We have various panels covering how the Dominicans influenced art history, music, liturgy, and book production—the latter being the subject of our keynote paper, given by Mary Rouse. In addition, there are panels looking at the interaction of medieval Dominicans across different parts of Europe.... Another highlight of the conference will be a concert of music that can be associated with the Dominican Order—both Dominican chant, and scraps of polyphony found as binding fragments in Dominican books.”

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