A review of music written using Latin texts in service of the liturgy of the Catholic Church encompassing music written in all periods with a concentration on contemporary composers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Splendoribus Sanctorum

If James MacMillan had been a name well known in musical circles before the papal visit he's probably graduated to close on 'household' name after the visit has been and gone. Primarily his English text setting the Mass of Blessed John Henry Newman put his name to the forefront attracting good and bad press according to the opinion, and the axe to grind, of the reviewer. His Latin text motet Tu es Petrus may have not received as much media attention, indeed I could have well missed it completely without a tip from a blogger, it was the only new Latin text music comissioned for use during the papal visit. Neverthless with these two pieces we see the two extremes of MacMillan's liturgical output. At the one the 'congregational' Mass setting beset by many difficulties beyond the composer's control, and at the other end a free standing motet where the composer was able to work free from certain limitations and pressure groups. With this in mind we take a step back a few years to a piece that seems to be able to straddle both the needs of an ordinary parish with the forward thinking aspirations of an innovative composer well versed in the music of his own time. The following link will take you to sample pages of MacMillan's motet In Splendoribus Sanctorum which is an interesting contribution to the seasonal repertoire.

Christmas Roundup

24th- 25th of December, 2010.

At the Birmingham Oratory (OF) Francis Poulenc's motet Hodie Christus Natus Est. At Brentwood Cathedral (OF 2200) the Missa ad Praesepe of George Malcolm and Poulenc's O Magnum Mysterium. At Cardiff Metropolitan the motet O Magnum Mysterium (Lauridsen) At Ely Place the first performance of Simon Lloyd's Introit motet Dominus dixit ad me. At Westminster Cathedral Vespers on Christmas Day (1530) Matthew Martin's motet Novo profusi gaudio.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday, 19th of December, 2010.

At Brentwood Cathedral (OF 1130) Lennox Berkeley's Missa Brevis.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 12th of December, 2010.

At Leeds Cathedral (OF 1100) Roberts' Mass for Trebles. At the Oxford Oratory (OF 1100) the Alma Redemptoris Mater of William Sewell (1861-1945).

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 5th of December, 2010.

At Brentwood Cathedral (OF 1130) the Agnus Dei from Vierne's Messe Solonnelle. At Leeds Cathedral the same Mass setting (OF 1100). At the London Oratory (OF 1100) Herbert Howells' Mass in the Dorian Mode.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 28th of November, 2010

At Farm Street (OF 1100) Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor. At Southwark Cathedral (OF 1130) Arvo Pärt's Missa Syllabica.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday, 21st of November, 2010.

At Farm Street (OF 1100) Ave verum corpus of Marcel Dupré. At Leeds Cathedral (OF 0930) the Missa in simplicitate of Jean Langlais. At Westminster Cathedral (OF 1030) the Messe Solonelle of Langlais, James MacMillan's Sedebit Dominus Rex, and at Vespers (1530) Balfour Gardiner's Te lucis ante terminum.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Floreat Cantus

Doff of the hood to the Hermeneutic of Continuity for news of a Christmas Concert which may be of interest. The programme, directed by composer Wilfrid Jones, includes Pearsall's In Dulci Jubilo. Proceeds to a good cause.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

A Stocking Filler

Personent Hodie: Music For Christmas. Ealing Abbey Choir, directed by Christopher Eastwood, with Simon Hogan, organ. Herald HAV POD 362. 1hr 2' 37. [DDD].

Whilst strictly off topic, recent Latin text material is lacking, this recording may be a useful gift for the upcoming season. Nineteen tracks cover the Advent-Christmas period with a few surprises but mainly presenting an anthology of what has been presented in this groups annual Christmas Carol Service over the years. The Choir has a recording 'history' with Herald producing a recording of the Bruckner motets some years ago under the direction of Jonathan Brown. Since then, and on other labels, there has been an Dickens themed recording (music and reading) under Richard Ncholson's directorship and a recording of largely modern English music with Timothy Blinko.

The offerings from the organ really stand out on this recording. I'm presuming Hogan is the performer on these tracks. Three Bach chorale preludes, Nun, komm, der Heiden Heiland (BWV 659), In Dulci Jubilo (BWV 608) and Wie schon leuchtet (BWV 739) are interspersed and really show the Rushworth and Dreaper instrument off for what it can do. Otherwise the choral tracks are a selection from chant through to some current arrangements of traditional material. Full texts are given in a simple booklet.

The recording quality (DDD) is very good. At one point I wondered if the accompaniment was too prominent due to the placement of the microphones but this proved to be momentary. Ealing Abbey is not an easy building to record in. Being directly under the Heathrow flight path often makes for recording in short takes at strange times of the day. The sound of the boys has changed over the years and Eastwood is dealing with a somewhat 'slimmed down' ensemble. This sounds very clear in the recording acoustic which is somewhat more resonant than the weekly worshipper might recognise.

Two reasons for a further 'plug'. (1) Proceeds from the recording are going to a very worthy cause; Aid to the Church in Need. You can have little doubt that your alms will not go where they will be misused. (2) It is a very competently assembled compilation with a combination of well known material, appropriate organ music, and an interesting marking point for where this choir is at the moment. The HAV website entry for this release is here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday, 14th of November, 2010.

In the UK today is Remembrance Sunday and one Requiem Mass is permitted. This year Fauré leads followed by Victoria and Mozart much further down the field.

At Farm Street (OF 1100) the Pié Jesu from the Requiem of Maurice Duruflé. At Leeds Cathedral (OF 0930; Mass of the Sunday) Messe d'Escalquens of Langlais and Terra tremuit of Bárdos.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 7th of November, 2010.

At Farm Street (OF 1100) the Missa Brevis of Zoltan Kodaly. At Leeds Cathedral (OF 1100) Maurice Duruflé's Requiem  and the Chant de paix of Jean Langlais. At Southwark Cathderal (OF 1130) the Missa Seria of Nicholas O'Neill.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 31st of October, 2010

Nothing in the more recent  Latin repertoire noted for this weekend.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Mawby Premiere

Colin Mawby's Missa Cor ad cor loquitur (SATB/org.) receives it's first 'outing' at the Oxford Oratory this weekend (OF 1030) at the beginning of the Forty Hours Devotion. Mawby's track record for contributions to the Latin repertoire is long standing. His principal choral  publisher, Butz Musikverlag, provides a listing of his works and images of the example pages of many scores. Technically the new work is a Missa Brevis, there is no setting of the Credo (at least in the score I've seen). The individual movements, noticeably within the setting of the Gloria, are sectionalised more in the tradition of larger Mass settings. The harmonic language is extended traditional harmony with his trademark enharmonic changes. Thematically there is a unity with the 'symphonic' development of alternating 3rds and 4ths throughout the thematic material and reflected in the harmonic structure. A more 'explicit' sharing of material exists between the Kyrie and the opening of the Agnus Dei. The organ writing is idiomatic, and should show off the instrument at S. Aloysius', however on first viewing of the score it was very tempting to imagine what orchestration Mawby might have had in mind. The choral writing certainly provides some challenges, divisi occurring in all parts, but looks very effective as you would expect from this composer.

This new work, taking it's title from and in honour of Blessed John Henry Newman, has been commissioned by Edward de Rivera for the Oxford Oratory. This choir and director have a long tradition and reputation for promoting music of the 'more recent' Latin repertoire.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday, 24th of October, 2010.

At Brentwood Cathedral (OF 1130) Vaughan Williams Mass in G minor. At Farm Street (OF 1100) Jean Langlais's Messe Solenelle and motet Ave mundi gloria. At Leeds Cathedral (OF 1100) Jubilate Deo by Bardos. At Liverpool Metropolitan (OF 1100) Langlais' Messe D'Escalquens and Wills' Ave Verum Corpus. At the Oxford Oratory (OF 1030) the premiere of Colin Mawby's Missa "Cor ad Cor loquitur" and Martin Beveridge's O Cor Amoris Victima.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

2010 British Composer Awards

The nominations for the 2010 British Composer Awards were announced this evening. In the Choral section (presumably because it is a selective setting) is Sasha Siem's Psalm No 140, in the Liturgical section Cheryl Frances-Hoad's Psalm No. 1. Both are English text settings and commissioned for a concert in Cambridge in November 2009. James MacMillan's Jubilate Deo was also nominated, again an English text setting. One Latin text work did make muster; Cecilia McDowall's Deus, Portus Pacis [SSATB unnac.] This was commissioned by the Musicians Benevolent Fund  for the Festival of St Cecilia, which took place at St Paul's Cathedral in London on the 18th November 2009.  Published by OUP. It's text is taken from a medieval Augustinian poem.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday, 17th of October 2010

At Farm Street (1100 OF) Missa in honorem BVM Vincenz Goller (1873-1953). At Leeds Cathedral (0930 OF) Missa in simplicitate, Jean Langlais, and  Terra tremuit, Bárdos. At 11.00 (OF) Missa in honorem S. Dominici, Edmund Rubbra and  Ave verum, Colin Mawby. At the Oxford Oratory (1030 OF) the St. Clemens-Maria Hofbauer Messe of Vincenz Goller (1873-1953). At Southwark Cathedral (1130 OF) Missa in honorem S. Dominici, Edmund Rubbra, and Grayston Ives' O Sacrum Convivium. At the London Oratory (1100 OF) the Mass in G Minor of  Ralph Vaughan Williams. At Westminster Cathedral (1100 OF) the Missa Rigensis by Ugis Praulins (b. 1957).

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sacred vs Secular

By now you have probably noticed a link doing the rounds of most sites concerned with Sacred Music. (Doffing my hood in multiple directions). It's a computer generated cartoon depicting a conversation 'at the water cooler' (I gather this is a particular genre of cartoon) between a man and a woman. Most of the dialogue is sourced from various Papal documents concerning sacred music and the basic point is that some music is appropriate to the Sacred Liturgy, other music not appropriate, indeed excluded. Towards the end of the piece the following comment is made;

Man: I guess it makes sense... that music written by people in the 20th Century should not replace Catholic music that has been refined for well over 1000 years.

There are problems with this comment. Whilst the apologetic purpose is obviously against certain types of music used in Churches at the moment one could get the impression that the author wants to exclude any music composed since 1900. This has been picked up by various commentators.

The balance between 'new' and 'old' musics in the liturgy is a problem that has vexed both Western and Eastern Christianity without even considering the abandonment of a traditional liturgical language. In the East the incorporation of a much beloved but largely 'classical' repertoire is viewed with suspicion in some quarters. In the West the recent legislation, say of the last fifty years, is plagued by the way it was generated. The final form of 'authoritative' documents, upon scrutiny, reveal the various authors, and pressure groups, at work in the earlier drafts. Anecdotally, Musicam Sacram (1967) was originally rather light on the retention of Gregorian Chant and only received it's published form very late in the day.

As it stands the legislation available clearly requires the maintenance of the received sacred treasury. However it does not exclude new compositions appropriate to the liturgy. It is the purpose of Jubal's Review to encourage and make these new Latin text compositions better known. By a literal interpretation excluding the music of the 20th Century a lot would be lost and a musical antiquarianism would be introduced for the first time. This surely cannot be the author's intention. Certainly the traditional repertoire should not be 'replaced' but this does not mean a simple date line test, for what is good and bad in Sacred Music, should be created which would exclude the further addition to that sacred repertoire.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday, 10th of October, 2010.

At the Birmingman Oratory (OF 1030) Lennox Berkeley's Missa Brevis. At Leeds Cathedral (0930 OF) Messe d'Escalquens, Langlais, at 1100 (OF) Ubi caritas et amor by Brian Easdale (1909-1995) and Litanies by Jehan Alain (1911-1940). At Southwark Cathedral (OF 1130) the Missa Quarta and Ave Maris Stella of Lajos Bardos (1899-1986). At Sacred Heart, Wimbledon (OF 1130); the Missa in Simplicitate of Jean Langlais.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 3rd October, 2010

At Leeds Cathdedral (1100 OF) Ubi caritas et amor, Duruflé, and the Canzona of Langlais, (1800. OF) Missa Chant donné, Duruflé (cantor and organ). At Sacred Heart Wimbledon (1130 OF) Tantum ergo Duruflé. At Westminster Cathedral (Solemn Vespers 1530) Magnificat octavi toni by David Bevan (b 1951).

Friday, September 24, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 26th September, 2010

At the Oxford Oratory (OF 1100); O Esca viatorum by Richard Jones (b.1945).  Please see the comments concerning music at Our Lady of the Rosary Blackfen. Many thanks for the addirion.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

New Latin Music during the Papal Visit UK

There have been some rather useful 'five line' transcriptions of the dialogue chants which may be good for introducing choirs and congregations to these chants. Copies could be made and included in orders of service and possibly pasted in the front of choir folders. There was James' MacMillan's Tu es Petrus at Westminster but Er... erhm... that's it. More on the MacMillan later when I get hold of a score. Some reactions from Laodicea can be found here. Fr Blake provides a link to a video and sound file here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 19th September 2010

At Brentwood Cathedral (OF 1130) the Agnus Dei from George Malcolm's Missa ad Praesepe. At Farm Street (OF 1100) Grayston Ives' Missa Brevis.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 12th September

At the Birmingham Oratory (OF 1030) Flor Peeters (1903-1986) Mass of St Joseph. At the Oxford Oratory (OF 1100) the Marien-Messe of Joseph Messner (1893-1969).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 5th September, 2010

If you have lists for the month of September that you would like posted on Jubal's Review please send them as a comment.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 29th August, 2010

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until next week. If you have advance lists for the month of September that you would like posted on Jubal's Review please send them as a comment.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

On the lighter side

This is an anecdote from Valle Adurni that I couldn't resist.

Some twenty years ago, I heard a story in Rome, from an official then high up in the Secretariat of State, which is presumably true. General Noriega, the dictator of Panama, having recently fallen from power, famously holed up in the Apostolic Nunciature, claiming sanctuary, or something of the sort. The Nunciature was promptly surrounded by hordes of gum-chewing GIs with guns trained on every window. Their war of attrition was prosecuted by loud American rock music (BAWN in the USA and the like) being directed at the Nunciature round the clock from powerful loudhailer systems.

In insomniacal desperation, the Nuncio contacted the Vatican Secretariat of State, and some high-up there telephoned the US embassy to the Vatican, threatening to send the Sistine Choir to sing under his windows unless the rock music was silenced. There was tranquillity in Panama within the hour. The Pope may not have many divisions; but he has got the Sistine Choir!

To put this into context there seems to be a vigil planned for outside the nunciature in Wimbledon during the Holy Father's upcoming visit. Mercifully it's scheduled to conclude at 8.30 p.m.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 22nd August, 2010

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 15th August, 2010
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 8th August, 2010

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Nino Rota

Rota, Nino. Custodi nos, Domine. (s.a./ organ) Mainz: Schott, 2010.

Schott would seem to be digging deep into their Rota archives with some delightful surprises. Part of the aim of Jubal's Review is to make some of the less difficult modern Latin choral works better known. In this case we have an example of perfect simplicity, catering for small resources, but still carrying the composer's trademark good balance and appealing sense of melody. Nino Rota (1911-1979) had a long career as a film music composer and academic. Whilst it is the film music that is most remembered (he produced up to thirteen scores a year) there is a considerable body of stage and concert hall music. The liturgical music was a surprise to me, certainly in the amount he seems to have produced.

Whilst the publication date of Custodi nos, Domine is 2010 I suspect that this small piece, two pages only, has been 'sourced' from either a quite early work of Rota or is something recently rediscovered. It is possible that it was prepared for one of his film scores. A recording was made in 2005 on the Italian Nota label. There is quite a bit of this composer's work suitable for liturgical use, including a Missa Brevis. Often these are settings for single voice employing a range which would not be easy for choral use however among the material being issued however this piece would seem to be immediately useable. The score specifies women's voices however I could imagine it being used with trebles for a 'boys only' Vespers motet. The text itself is a composite taken from Psalm 16 (as found in the Compline responsory) and Psalm 133.

Custodi nos, Domine is set in a simple 'rondo' form and follows Rota's pattern of passing quickly through some enharmonic changes in the 'B' and 'C' sections before returning to the tonic. Part of the attraction of the setting is the constant flowing movement achieved through the imitative phrases, and suspensions, between the voices. The 'B' and 'C' sections are set for a single line. It really is a very elegant little piece. The vocal writing is quite easy and well within standard ranges. The accompaniment is presented as manuals only however it's quite obvious that in the 'full' sections some judicial pedalling could be very effective.

Whilst Schott normally requires multiple copies to be ordered (10 in this case) individual copies seem to be available on the shelf of their outlets. The London shop is at 48 Great Marlborough St.

Dom Alban Nunn

Scores and Recordings received

The following scores and recordings have been obtained in the last month and should receive a notice or review in due course.

[CD] [Various Composers] El nou orgue de Montserrat. Works by Bach, Viola, Casanoves, Handel, Civil. Liszt. Segarra and Widor. Miguel Gonzalez, organ of Montserrat Abbey, Catalonia. Discos Abadia de Montserrat 2010.  DAM 5017. Playing time 1' 14":36. 

[CD] Macmillan, James. Tenebrae: New Choral Music by James MacMillan. Capella Nova directed by Alan Tavener. Linn Records 2007 CKD 301. Playing time: 70' 19"

[Scores] MacMillan, James. Missa Brevis. London: Boosey & Hawkes, 2007. Tenebrae Responsories. London: Boosey & Hawkes, 2008. From the series 'The Strathclyde Motets'; Christus Vincit (1995), In Splendoribus Sanctorum (2008), Pascha nostrum immolatus est (2008), O Radiant Dawn (2008), Sedebit Dominus Rex (2008), Dominus Dabit Benignitatem (2008), The Canticle of Zachariah (2008), Factus est repente (2008), Data est mihi omnis potestas (2008), Os mutorum (2008), Videns Dominus (2008), Mitte manum tuam (2008), Lux Aeterna (2009) & Qui meditabitur (2010). [all Boosey & Hawkes].

[Score] Rota, Nino. Custodi nos, Domine. (s.a./ organ) Mainz: Schott, 2010.

[Scores] Wilton, Nicholas. In manus tuas, Domine (1990), Cor Meum and Beata Viscera Mariae (1995), O Salutaris, Ave Verum, Tantum Ergo, (1996); Requiem Aeternam (1999), Optimam Partem (1999), Ave in aeternum (2000), Ave Maria [saattbb] (2000), Panis Angelicus (2000), Felix namque est (2000), O Sacrum Convivium [ssaa] (2003),  Missa Brevis, O Sacrum Convivium [satb] (2004); Sancta et Immaculata (2006),  Locus Iste (2008), Ave Maria [ssaa] (2009). All available from Catholic Music or Banks Music. St Paul's Bookshop at Westminster stocks all titles.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 1st August, 2010

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Kevin Allen article

The Spring 2010 edition of Sacred Music has become available on line thanks to The Chant Cafe. In it there is an extended article by Susan Treacy (pp. 27ff)  on the American composer Kevin Allen (see link at the right of this page). The article includes a listing of Allen's compositions to date (pp. 35ff) and scores for the Sanctus of his Missa Deus Sempiterne and a setting of the Tantum Ergo.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 25th July, 2010

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Christian West and it's Singers

Christopher Page, The Christian West and it's Singers. The First Thousand Years. (New Haven: Yale, 2010) 691 pp +  illustrations.

Please do not read Christopher Page's final paragraphs first. Indeed it's probably best to leave them right to the end as he intended it. Unfortunately they place the book more in its own cultural milieu rather than that of it's subject. It's a shame because this masterly work, which must set a new standard, is of such importance that reader shouldn't be put off by transitory Europhile sentimentality.

Page dares to go where few have trod before. Certainly there is some cross over with James McKinnon's final offering The Advent Project. That earlier work, a decade ago, cast considerable light over the darkness of the late 7th century in musical terms.  Page goes much further creating a coherent history across the first millennium. I say creating because the size and breadth of this work means that many of his conclusions will be the basis on which future work will be done. Research and explorations, kite flying perhaps, that just could not have been done, indeed envisaged, without this book having been there first and cleared the way.

Christopher Page (born 1952) is an expert on medieval performance practice, a guitarist and, I gather, a composer. He is Vice-Master of Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge  and University Reader in Medieval Music and Literature. He is the founder and director of Gothic Voices and serves on the editorial boards of the journals Early Music (OUP) and Plainsong and Medieval Music (CUP). His communication skills, honed through years of teaching and broadcasting, are clear and well directed towards a wide audience. In this volume he has shown considerable care in presentation opting to place the footnotes at the end of the text, so not to visually disrupt the flow of the narrative. A series of excursions, further support of his research, are placed at the ends of chapters rather than being integrated into the main text. It makes for a very readable volume of around 350, 000 words.

Page, of course, is wandering into difficult territory. The ordinary evidence for musical examination, the scores, have not survived. In fact they probably never existed as the modern mind would have defined them. Page draws on a variety of disciplines for his purpose. Thus the epitaphs for early Christian lectors, the trade movements in the ancient world, indeed the origins of personal names themselves become tools to elucidate a picture of how Christian music worked in the West. ('Notation' itself doesn't appear until 370 pages in.) Now, standing on their own, each piece of data may seem to be of interest in a small way but in Page's hands they are drawn into a bigger picture. In a sense he has assembled his argument from many tessura to form one mosaic. It is the detail of this work which is quite breath taking.

Apart from the 'paucity' of evidence Page notes another fundamental problem with the material that may be considered 'secondary' sources for a history of singers.

The task of trying to form an impression of Christians and their singers in the first centuries is like assessing the position of Muslims today using only the websites of Islamic extremists and official pronouncements about the War on Terror. [p, 523]

But Page was obviously aware of this before he penned the opening chapters. He's successfully counterbalanced any polemic on the part of 'official' sources with the wealth of 'domestic' material he has employed, material without intent to proselytize or convince indeed material that would have surprised its originators if they knew it was to be used in this way. Concerning the transmission of the chant repertoire Page opines;

A comprehensive map of connections, if only we could draw one, would probably be as much a chart of friendship and alliance between cathedrals and abbeys as a map of direct intervention by the emperors. [p. 532]

Page's story then is told, not principally through the lives of the rich and powerful, but through the lives of the singers. He clothes these lives with the cultural environment in which they worked and lived. In Part I we are introduced to what must be considered the 'domestic' Church - a world which singing and declaiming a text were the same act. Here, in the world of the lector-cantor, a picture is drawn with the lives of some early practitioners. Some surprising information is brought to light; the preference for the purity of the unbroken voice, in some places, for the declamation of scriptural texts; the growing singing  ministry of the deacon almost threatening to usurp the older ways. Part II covers the rise of the new kingdoms with the weakening of Roman centrality. A particular emphasis is made on the ways of teaching singers and their institutions. Part III examines what we know of the composers/ choirmasters operating in the final centuries of the first millennium. Guido d'Arezzo's works (Chapter 20) are firmly placed within a larger context of clerical reform with the revelation of a fifth treatise, often misattributed, which leaves little doubt that a major impetus for a more specific form of notation lay in the considerable amount of time that clerics were 'wasting' in memorising the repertoire they had to use on a daily basis.

But what of a continuous tradition? The book's attitude is simple. A clear direct line cannot be traced. However there are several starting points which, over the centuries converged. So Christian music found it's roots in a variety of sources, the local community adopting and modifying, sometimes outright rejecting, the musics that surrounded it. Similarly the ecclesial structures in which the cantor-lectors first ministered owed much to the familial structures already in place in various provinces of late antiquity and continued to have an influence through to the last dwindling scions of old Rome, residing in Gaul but, remembering past glories half a millennium later. Through these strands however there was innovation which cannot be explained but by the genius of the singers.

The presentation of the volume is first class, well bound, good paper. Typesetting is clear and accurate (I noticed what appears to be a lone 'typo' on p. 487. (Surely Rudof should read Rudolf?) The illustrations are apposite and, indeed, largely new to me. Colour has been used which is certainly essential to some of the points made. More than one reviewer has noted the physical weight of the volume. A problem perhaps for the reviewer 'sneaking' chapters whilst on the London Underground but less so for where the book will find it's home- on the desk of all those interested in this area.

Please do not, do not, read Page's final paragraphs first. Indeed it's probably best to leave them right to the end as he intended it. Better still strike them out and draw your own conclusions. I found his closing comments rather out of character to the rest of the text. Throughout he had maintained a scholarly distance observing the facts with a clear objective eye. To lapse into personal interpretation was perhaps not the best way to end such a fine bit of scholarly writing.

Dom Alban Nunn

In preparing this review reference was made to the Wikipedia entry for the author and material on the websites of OUP and CUP.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 18th of July, 2010.

At Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (OF 11am) Jean Langlais’ Messe Solonelle, Olivier Messiaen’s O Sacrum Convivium and Jean Guillou’s organ postlude Agni-Ignis (Fire of Exaltation). At the London Oratory (OF 11am) Grayston Ives' O Sacrum Convivium. At the conclusion of Vespers at Westminster Cathedral (3.30 pm) Francis Pott’s Toccata.

With the Summer break many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Circle of Light

Sweeney, Eric. Circle of Light: Music for choir and organ. The Lassus Scholars and Piccolo Lasso directed by Ite O'Donovan with Eric Sweeney, organ. Dublin Choral Foundation DCF CD004 (DDD).

The Lassus Scholars made an enormous contribution to the recent FOTA III conference in Cork (10-12 July). Over the three days they provided some of the most extraordinary readings of both 'classic' sacred repertoire and some newer music as well. The standard of the performances were remarkable. Whilst used to hearing such quality on recordings, where the possibility of retakes is a blessing, such high standards, given the difficulty of the music, is unusual within the liturgical context. Talking to their director, Ite O'Donovan, afterwards I asked about new Latin sacred repertoire and she very kindly provided Jubal's Review with a copy of this significant CD.

This recording contains the music of Eric Sweeney (b. 1948). The recording opens with his organ piece Le Circle de Lumiere (1999) and includes three English carol settings (SATB unaccompanied), and a selection of Sweeney's other organ music. An English Jubilate Deo and two other motets are presented. Sweeney has noted that his compositional style changed after his Second Symphony (1985-1987) as he moved towards a more 'traditional' use of tonal centres. This move can be clearly heard in the Missa Brevis (1986) which is our main interest. Sweeney mentions minimalism, particularly Reich, as having a definite influence on his compositional style. Whilst this is clearly heard is his use of repetitive figures the influence of Flor Peeters is just as prominent in the way he develops melodic fragments and builds chords from modal scales.

Sweeney provides the following note;

'Written in 1986, and subsequently revised, the Missa Brevis for two-part choir is a setting of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus/Benedictus and Agnus Dei of the Mass. Frequent use is made of canonic writing, sometimes in inversion, in the voice parts while the organ plays a largely independent part throughout.'
It will be no so surprise that this immediately invites a comparison with Benjamin Britten's Missa Brevis (1959) not only in the similar forces involved but also in the canonical writing and the independence of the organ part. There are significant differences however; Sweeney's work is slightly longer lingering over passages of the text which the Britten work, by comparison, makes a rather perfunctory, almost indecently hurried, setting. The organ part in Sweeey's setting would seem to be more accessible to the average organist.

The performance from Piccolo Lasso (all aged between 9 and 14) is solidly professional. The opening of the Kyrie slightly puzzled me as there seemed to be two pronunciations of the word Kyrie being executed, one favouring a Greek pronunciation in the other  the latinate. The performance of the Gloria is sharply precise and gives a good example of what these young singers are capable of. Leaps from low unisons to high divisi chords are handled with apparent ease, indeed intonation throughout is spot on. The recording itself [DDD] is very good and the placement of voices within the mix is very satisfactory making every syllable and note uttered count.  The recording was made in Christ Church Cathedral, Waterford, in October 2003.

Recent Latin Mass settings for these forces are relatively rare and Sweeney's Missa Brevis deserves to be heard much more frequently. The score is available through Beaumaris Publications (Rockfield, Carrigavantry, Tranmore. Co. Waterford). Sweeney has composed several works under this title so be specific, when enquiring, that you are looking for the 1986 Latin Missa Brevis. For further information on the Dublin Choral Foundation and its important continuing contribution their web page is linked with the name. This recording is available on the DCF site and also on Amazon.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Scores and Recordings received

The following scores and recordings have been received in the last month and should receive a notice or review in due course.

[CD] Sweeney, Eric. Circle of Light: Music for choir and organ. The Lassus Scholars and Piccolo Lasso directed by Ite O'Donovan with Eric Sweeney, organ. Dublin Choral Foundation DCF CD004 (DDD)
[CD] Macmillan, James. Visitatio Sepulchri and Sun Dogs. Netherlands Radio Choir/ Netherlands Chamber Philharmonic directed by James Macmillan and Celso Antunes. BIS SACD 1719

These last three items, found abandoned outside Travis & Emerymight be considered of archival interest.

[Score] Camilleri, Charles. Requiem for unnacompanied male voice choir. Roberton Publications 53152
[Score] Dalby, Martin. Missa Fi-Fi. Chester Contemporary Music Series.
[Score] Nystedt, Knut. De Profundis for chorus of mixed voices a capella. Associated Music Publishers.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

FOTA III. Monday 12th July


The final day commenced with Dom Samuel Weber's paper on the use of psalms. Extensive illustrations were provided with excerpts from the St Louis Gradual and the St Louis Hymnal for the Hours together with a bilingual edition of Compline. This presentation was essentially a practical exploration of what could be employed on the way to realizing a fuller use of the canonical psalter within the liturgy particularly in the proper texts which Fr Samuel identified as a particular concern in the thought of Benedict XVI.

This was followed by Kerry McCarthy's paper Listening to William Byrd. McCarthy's presentation initially seemed to be an enrichment lecture rather than something immediately pertinent to the topic of the conference. This misconception of mine changed quickly as she drew from the music of Byrd, and the details of his life, many of the concerns that continue today particular the survival of the church musician in adverse circumstances. In formal terms she noted that Byrd's compositional process commenced with what the liturgical text suggested at a deeper level than mere gimmicky word painting (although Byrd was not beyond some rather dramatic effects as she illustrated by a section of the Easter motet Terra Tremuit). McCarthy noted that the extended prefaces that accompany the two editions of Byrd's Gradualia contain his detailed attitudes to sacred composition and its performers. Byrd seemed well aware of the problems of less than perfect performers ('Everyone should learn to sing- it's the only way to find a good voice') and the often noted distance of the church musician ('Let the honour be God's but the pleasure be yours'). Byrd was well aware that there would be a range of abilities and seems to have been an early apostle contra utilitarianism- two very modern issues in sacred music practice.

At 12. 30 in St Peter and Paul's Church Fr James Brucke FSSP celebrated his first High Mass after ordination last week to the sacred priesthood. The setting of the ordinary was William Byrd's Mass for Five Voices which had formed part of Dr McCarthy's earlier lecture. This was a model celebration of the sung form of the Extraordinary Form lasting just over an hour. Considering the discussions of proper psalmody earlier in the day it was slightly surprising to discover some of the proper chants replaced by polyphony with texts not of the day.


Thomas Lacote, organist titulaire of the cathedral in Bourges presented a paper on music inspired by sacred themes but standing outside of liturgical norms. After noting the presence of sacred themes and gestures in some expected places (the agnostic Faure) and some unexpected places (the surprisingly pious Stockhausen) he turned to an examination of a new series of his own compositions entitled Dedication. The series derives it's inspiration from the common texts association with the Feast of the Dedication of a Church and are scored for a variety of forces. Dedication I, for tenor recorder, exploits the consecratory ritual of circumscribing a building during its consecration. Dedication II, for trombone quartet, is yet to be completed. (In a conversation afterwards he mentioned that it's inspiration was associated with the walls of the consecrated building). Dedication III, for organ, is inspired by the Matins antiphon Vidit Iacob scalam and Dedication IV, for twelve voices a capella, a setting of a verse from the office hymn Caelestis urbs, Ierusalem. The excerpts played during the talk illustrated quite clearly the advanced musical language that Lacote is employing inspired by the sacred treasury but not derivative or imitative.

Ite O'Donovan, director of the Lassus scholars, then delivered a paper which tracked the documents on sacred music of the twentieth century. This paper reflected the problems faced by the practicing Church musician in the years that followed the Council up to the present time and particular the apparent, and actual, dichotomy between what the documents of the Council had to say and what actually happened. The paper contained an interesting defence of the Viennese tradition of orchestral Masses as a continuation of temple traditions in early Christianity. In the questions that followed O'Donovan spoke of the alienation and crisis in faith that been the lot of many musicians after the Council noting that the revival in the traditional rites had become the path of return for some in recent times.

The final address of the day came from Archbishop Raymond Burke who spoke on The New Evangelization and Sacred Music. Archbishop Burke reflected on the presence of sacred music in his early education in rural Wisconsin, the sudden abandonment of the Liber Usualis during his junior seminary days, in 1965, and the realisation of the banality of what was coming to replace it. Whilst he sensed the departure of beauty he noted the general acceptance at the time that this was what the Church wanted. This talk was very carefully conceived with gems in almost every sentence. I hope that the entire talk can be made available in advance of the formal publication.

In relation to sacred music the archbishop noted two general principles in the thought of Benedict XVI: (a) That the true purpose of sacred music is as servant of the sacred liturgy glorifying God and sanctifying the faithful. (b) to this end there are three qualities must be constantly sort; (1) that of Holiness, avoiding the secular and rejecting anything foreign to the liturgy. (2) that of Beauty, in that the music must be artistic, not inferior and of the highest quality. (3) Finally Universality in that the forms used must be subject to the norms of Catholicism. In concluding Archbishop Burke noted that formal aestheticism must be avoided and sacred music must always be oriented 'Godwards'.

At the end of this third day Fr Vincent Twomey SVD gave thanks to the various people who had contributed to FOTA III. In conclusion he mentioned that the subject for FOTA IV would be 'The Roman Missal' with papers being sort on both the recent 3rd edition of the Missale Romanum (and the translations derived from it) and the 1962 Missale Romanum as the edition envisaged by Summorum Pontificum. He mentioned that the proceedings of FOTA II are now with the publishers.

Dom Alban Nunn

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fota III. Sunday 11th of July


This morning's Pontifical Mass originally was scheduled to commence with the Office of Terce at 11.30. This was revised to 11 am but in fact the Mass actually commenced at the original time of 11.30. At around 2 hours and 25 minutes into the proceedings James Macmillan's a capella motet Christus Vincit was heard during the communion. The expected Macmillan trademarks were very evident- an uncanny ability to make even the driest acoustic sound quite resonant together with decidedly 'celtic' decorative figuration in the upper voices. Given the nature of the text you would have expected something quite triumphalistic but Macmillan has chosen to underplay that aspect of the text in favour of a more reflective setting. The grandeur of the text was more expressed through the subtle use of harmonic shifts and ornamentation rather than through sudden changes in tempo and dynamic.

Thomas Lacote's improvisation before the final Te Deum took up some of the stylistic features of the Macmillan setting. The setting of the ordinary was Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli matching well the material discussed in yesterday's session. Within the context of this Pontifical High Mass it was a solid reminder of the essential sobriety of the Roman rite when freed from unnecessary ornamentation, fussiness or vain display.


The format for the afternoon session was slightly modified to allow questions between each paper and a brief break. First Dr Andreas Andreopoulos presented a paper in two parts. First he examined the theory of music in the Byzantine tradition, particularly the modal system and noted the differences between the sacred and secular musics dependant on the same system. He noted that in various orthodox communities, that had previously adopted more westernized forms of music, there was currently a revival in the traditional chant. The second part of Dr Andreopoulos' presentation was the performance of a selection of pieces from the sacred and secular repertoires illustrating the points from the first half of his talk.

The second paper came from Don Alberto Donini of the Diocese of Brescia. His paper, Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy according to Joseph Ratzinger/ Benedict XVI, extracted from the considerable references to music those specific to the Gregorian repertoire. At the essence of the paper was the identification of spiritualization as being essential to the Holy Father's understanding of chant. This he sees not only in the varied origins of the chant genre being brought into a cohesive spiritual form but also in a Christological sense by the which the chant itself participates in the incarnation of the logos; 'Christ the Word of God, incarnate in sound.' In the following question session an interesting exchange took place between Donini and Andreopoulos over the misuse of incarnation by some liturgical theologians to embrace anything as acceptable.

Finally James Macmillan spoke, or rather gave his manifesto for the future, in a talk entitled The Spirit of the Liturgy: Rejoice in Tradition and Embrace the Future. Macmillan obviously knew he was 'preaching to the choir' with much he said but seemed a little more circumspect than he has been elsewhere- probably considering the presence of three bishops in the room by this stage. He concentrated on the problem of the value of 'beauty' and it's general neglect, indeed deliberate exclusion of the concept, from much liturgical consideration in recent years. In the context of the general alienation that occurred between Church and professional musicians, in the 1960s, Macmillan touched on the misinterpretation of participatio actuoso that has prevailed and also noted the considerable pressure he had recently been subjected to from 'modernist liturgists' in relation to his own work for the forthcoming Papal Visit to Britain. The session concluded with a personal reflection from Archbishop Burke who, speaking of some of the Holy Week Chants he remembered as a child, noting how appropriate their style seemed to the occasion. 'We have been robbed of a gift given by God' he recalled.

In a  revision to the published schedule finds Dom Samuel Weber's paper Benedict XVI on the Psalms in the Liturgy now in the Monday morning session.

Dom Alban Nunn

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Fota III. Saturday 10th of July

As there had been some flux in the exact programme of this years conference I was somewhat relieved to find it substantially intact with the pack handed out at registration.

Day 1 Summary

The opening session of FOTA III started shortly after 11 am. Fr Vincent Twomey SVD, formerly professor of moral theology at Maynooth, commenced with an overview of the issues concerning Church Music in the writings of the current Holy Father. He observed a fundamental distinction between Joseph Ratzinger's initial approach to music as integral to the liturgy in comparison to the Rahnerian 'ornamental' approach. After tracing some of the philosophical reasoning behind the Pope's thinking Twomey concluded with five principles which would find resonance in the later speakers. (1) Liturgy is for all- truly catholic but not always uniform. (2) It may be simple but never cheap. (3) Participation goes beyond mere external manifestations of activity. (4) If liturgical music is purely utilitarian it's actually useless. (5) A 'purification process' needs to be applied to musical material drawn from other cultures.

The following speakers were reversed as Fr Lang was yet to arrive in Cork. Fr Sven Leo Conrad FSSP then spoke on the intellectual connection between the Pope and Johannes Overath (1915-2002) whose work and person strongly influenced the music paragraph of Sacrosanctum Concilium (1963) and it's consequent expansion/explanation Musicam Sacram (1967). The theological content of Fr Overath's paper was severely curtailed by time limits however Fr Conrad managed to emphasise Overath's concern about the tendency to over play the 'spirit' rather than the 'letter' of the conciliar documents. Overath laid great value on the original relationes of the conciliar debates in interpreting the final texts. This seems to have been an attitude shared and passed on to the current Holy Father through close professional and personal contact which included a shared residency in the early 1980s.

Fr Michael Lang CO, having arrived, gave his paper an overview of papal pronouncements on music from Benedict XIV's Annus Qui (1749) to the current day via the writings of John XXII and material from the 22nd and 23rd sessions of the Council of Trent. Summarising across the centuries, between the two Benedicts, Fr Lang outlined five consistent concerns; (1) The actual use of the textual material proper to the Mass. (2) The problem of the theatrical pushing the text away from God centeredness (including the appropriate use of instruments in worship). (3) The continuing concern for intelligibility. (4) The length of individual pieces in relation to he liturgical action. (5) The revival of the chant repertoire.

The first session paused with a series of questions from the floor including an interesting comment from Stanford's Professor William Mahrt on the introduction of the organ into Western liturgy. Apparently a Byzantine imperial ornament the first instrument was sent as a present to the emperor of the West, at that time Charlemagne, from the Emperor of the East, and originally used to play Gregorian melodies. Finally Archbishop Burke closed the morning session with some general comments of the renewal of sacred music.


The afternoon session of the first day was rearranged so the paper advertised by Dom Samuel Weber OSB (Benedict XVI on the Psalms in the Liturgy) is yet to be delivered.

Fr Stephane Quessard spoke on the renewal of Sacred Music commencing with a potted history of the origin and use of the term itself from it's apparent coining by Michael Praetorius around 1614. Quessard observed three challenges to Sacred Music in the thought of Joseph Ratzinger (1) That sacred music must go beyond the limits of current European thinking avoiding triteness and commercialism. (2) That the Church has to restore the logos at the centre of sacred music. (3) That the chant repertoire must be emphasised as normative to the Rite.

In an addition to the advertised programme the Irish composer Philip Carty spoke with considerable conviction about how his growing religious convictions have influenced his musical language. Carty has an academic background in both theology and music and a continuing career as a composer including several film music credits. There were several wonderful thought provoking moments in this talk, illustrated with some of his own music, including the question 'Is no music better than bad music?' aimed directly at much of the pastoral repertoire. Carty's answer was a simple 'Yes- because of the silence.' Brave words for anybody trying to make a living out of writing music. Carty then attempted to trace the downfall of vocations and musical practice in Ireland comparing it with the decline in tonality and form in Western art Music in general. Messiaen, and Webern were obviously considered problematic and Carty admits this problem in some of his own music. Carty emphaised the need for humility- 'Music without humility is just pride with a video attached!' I'm going to have to revisit this composer as I think he has some very interesting things to say but has yet, perhaps, to fully 'join up the dots'. He has also yet, I might note, to compose a Latin text motet.

The conclusion of this session involved Professor Twomey and some questions from the floor, actually more anecdotal exchanges on the pretence of bringing things back to the 'grass root level'. You could smell the bishop bating coming a mile off. Enough said. The afternoon session then moved into the launch of the FOTA I proceedings. Archbishop Burke gave a summary of the contents in some detail then the publishers responded briefly giving tribute to the work of the editors. At 7.30 pm Archbishop Burke celebrated Pontifical Vespers in the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, Cork City. At 9 pm Thomas Lacote, who will speak later in the conference, gave an organ recital.

Dom Alban Nunn

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Fota III

The 3rd annual conference of the St Colman's Society for Catholic Liturgy commences in Cork on Saturday Morning, the 10th of July. This year's concentration is on Sacred Music and specifically the contribution, attitude and writings of the current Holy Father. Of particular interest to Jubal's Review will be an address given by James Macmillan  (Sunday at 1600). From the historical perspective Kerry McCarthy will deliver a paper on William Byrd (Monday at 0900). Dr McCarthy has done much to enhance understanding of the liturgical context that Byrd was writing in. The website for the St Colman Society contains the prospectus and other information for the conference. The Pontifical Mass on Sanday (nota bene 11 am, Ss Peter and Paul's Church) will include Palestrina's Missa Pape Marcelli and James Macmillan's motet Christus Vincit. The High Mass on Monday (12 30 pm, same venue) will use William Byrd's Mass for Five Voices.

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 11th of July, 2010

At Leeds Cathedral (11am OF) the Messe d’Escalquens of Jean Langlais (1907-1991). At Westminster Cathedral (10.30 am OF) Marcel Dupré's (1886-1971) motet Laudate Dominum.

With the Summer break coming many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Motets

'Doff of the hood' to Arlene Oost-Zinner at Novus Motus Liturgicus who has an article on Kevin Allen's Motecta Trium Vocum. These are a set of twelve Latin motets for three voices. The disposition of the voices may be varied according to what you have available and considerable support material is available to assist in learning the motets. A careful selection of texts means that a motet can be found appropriate throughout the year and 'extension' chant passages are provided so that the length of the piece may be adapted to the liturgical needs. The NLM link will lead you to sample recordings (all parts sung by Matthew Curtis through the miracle of multi tracking) and an introductory video. It looks like something that could be very useful and a worthwhile investment. The compositional style is very approachable. Kevin Allen's link is in the composers list on the right of this page.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Welsh Premiere

Roxanna Panufnik's Missa de Angelis  receives it's Welsh premiere at St Peter's Church, Routh, on Saturday the 3rd of July at 7.30 pm with the Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral Choir, directed Dominic Neville, and the London Oratory School Schola, directed by Lee Ward. Tickets available from 020 7381 7684 or on the door. Panufnik's setting of the Gregorian melodies, of Mass VIII, was premiered at St James Spanish Place on the 7th of May. The composer has prepared three versions (1) a version with brass octet and (2) with organ accompaniment. Finally, (3) a 'congregational' version which will be 'pared down to something everyone can sing at their weekly Masses.'

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Weekend Roundup

With the Summer break coming many choirs will be 'in recess' until early September. It is the season, however, for visiting choirs often bringing interesting repertoire with them. If you have any details please send them in this direction.

Sunday 4th of July, 2010

At Cardiff Metropolitan Cathedral (OF 11am) Jean Langlais' Messe Solonelle. The same composer's Tantum ergo at Leed's Cathedral (OF 11am). The Oxford Oratory (OF 11am) has a programme of American Music with the composer Fr Joel Warden, of the Brooklyn, Oratory as preacher and celebrant.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

From the Press

The July 2010 edition of the Westminster Record has a report on page 6 of the first performance of a new Mass by Nicholas Lane on the Feast of Corpus Christi. The article notes that the new work is 'reminiscent of Gabrieli or Monteverdi'. The vocal forces seem to be SATB and singable by a quartet of voices. If anyone has any further information we'd be glad to include it as an update to this entry.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 27th of June, 2010. 5th Sunday after Pentecost

Latin Music by recent composers noted this weekend in the UK.

Noted this weekend is the use of Wilton's Ave Maria a 4 and Tantum Ergo at St Etheldreda's, Ely Place, (OF 11am). The Mass Ordinary will be the Missa in hon. S. Thom. Mori by Arthur Oldham (1926-2003). At Vespers and Benediction at the London Oratory (3.30 p.m.) the Russill hymn verse setting of Lucis Creator III will be used.  Also of interest is the use of Stravinsky's Mass at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (OF 11am). Whilst originally presented outside of a liturgical context Stravinsky was emphatic that he wanted it to be used liturgically. It is one of the few works by Stravinsky that were not commissioned and seems to have been written for purely spiritual motives between 1946 and 1948.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A voice in the wilderness...

It's appropriate, considering today's feast, to mention Nicholas Wilton. Although still young, by composer standards, he was, for a long time, almost the sole voice crying in a wilderness of sacred Catholic composition in Britain. His web page (see links) provides a link to an extended interview with the American Catholic radio station Sirius. This gives a good coverage of the variety of his sacred music as well as his own skill in  setting the texts well. The interview covers his professional relationships with recording companies and performers, his sources of inspiration and some personal reflections. The interviewer makes an immediate comparison with Bruckner. Whilst this is partially true Wilton does have his own distinctive style which he has refined and dedicated to creating a body of works which has really enriched the sacred music repertoire in this country. We hope to carry a new interview with him in Jubal's Review in the near future.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Weekend Roundup

Sunday 20th June, 2010. 4th Sunday after Pentecost.

Latin Music by recent composers this weekend

Christopher Dalitz's Mass in Eb will be sung by the Rudgate Singers at the Church of the English Martyrs, York, at 6.30 pm in a Mass in the 'extraordinary form'. At Farm Street: George Malcolm's motet Veritas Mea at 11 am (OF together with Flor Peeter's Missa Laudis). At Sacred Heart, Wimbledon, at 11.30 am (OF), Ive's Missa Brevis. At Westminster Cathedral (10.30, OF) Brian Chapple's Missa brevis Exoniensis. This was written for Exeter Cathedral in 2009 and is published by Chester.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Saulnier on Chant

Dom Daniel Saulnier, Gregorian Chant. A Guide to the History and Liturgy, trans. Mary Berry. (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2009) 147 pp + illustrations.

Dom Daniel Saulnier has written extensively on chant and this slim volume is a very good synthesis of much of the background to his current work. After a potted history of the developemnt of the chant he moves quickly to an examination of the types of composition present in the repertoire. Of particular use, for teaching purposes are the illustrations attached to the final chapter 'Manuscripts' (pages 117-130). The book was originally published, in French, in 2003 and the present translation, by Dr Mary Berry, was nearly complete at the time of her death in 2008. I suspect the historical summary (pages 2-17) may need expanding considering some of the work done in the last five years. It should be noted that this book is not a primer in reading the chant notation but a concise introduction to the issues that inform interpretation today.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Latin in London

Nick Gale, director of music at S. George's Cathedral Southwark,  provides and interesting summary of what is available musically in 12 London Catholic Churches on a 'average' Sunday, in this case the 20th of June 2010. ( see here) This appears on a new blog, The Chant Cafe,  set up by Jeffrey Tucker formerly of the New Liturgical Movement. The general link has been added to 'Tools and Resources' below. Despite this apparent wealth of riches it should be pointed out that none of these places  have a regular Sunday Sung Mass using the 'traditional' rite. I hope to be corrected. The new blog looks good and has started well with a range of articles. I suspect the forthcoming Sacred Music Colloquium in Pittsburgh will feature in it's entries over the next few weeks. One to be added to the favourites list.

Update: Nick has updated his article during the day and added pictures and some more detail which will be of interest.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Hiley on Chant

David Hiley, Gregorian Chant [Cambridge Introductions to Music]. (Cambridge: CUP, 2009) 250 pp + illustrations.

David Hiley made a monumental contribution to the availability of chant scholarship to a more general audience with the publication of his Western Plainchant in 1993. That volume was a successor to Willi Apel's Gregorian Chant which, from the late 1950s, had been the principal work, in English, for students wanting an overall introduction to the history and issues arrounding ecclesiastical chant. Whilst the new volume contains within it a summary of previous scholarship it is quite obviously quite new introducing, to an English speaking audience, some of the research Hiley and his colleagues have done in the last decade.

For composers working today with Latin texts there is always the need to look back to see what the principles were of the setting of the texts in former times. Much can be learnt and mistakes avoided particularly if sacred composition is new to the individual composer. Whilst designed as a 'taster', and probably aimed primarily at tertiary students as part of an introductory course, Hiley's 'Further Reading' advice, appearing at the end of each major section, is precise and uncluttered pointing towards the most recent sound scholarship on the subject.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Proms 2010

Thankfully the days when you had to go to the concert hall to hear Latin sacred music are drawing to a close. However, for some major works, this is the only chance that those seriously studying the sacred treasury will get to hear them live. We offer the following notes for those who might be considering some 'promming' over the Summer as to what might be of interest.

1. Liturgical Music; Ths year's  major offering must be Monteverdi's Vespro della Beata Vergine 1610 (Prom 75: Monteverdi Choir/ Elliot Gardiner). The performers include two London Catholic Choirs, the Schola Cantorum of The Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School and the London Oratory Junior Choir.  The only other major liturgical work is a performance of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater (Prom 64: Early Opera Company/ Curnyn, Watts and Stephany). Smaller works include Gesualdo's Tristis est anima mea sitting slightly strangely in a programme at Cadogan Hall (PSM 3). 'Song of Songs' (PCM 6: Stilo Antico) at Cadogan Hall promises a programme including music by Ceballos, Clemens non Papa, Gombert, Guerrero, Lassus, Palestrina, Praetorius, Victoria and Vivanco interspersed with chant. Details are yet to be released but presumably the biblical texts will be featured. Two excerpts from the earlier Taverner are included under Section 3 below.

2. Devotional Music
Whilst using the text of the Good Friday Passion Gospel, I doubt Arvo Pärt's Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christi secundum Joannem, presented this year  as the St. John Passion (Prom 43; Endymion/ BBC Singers/ Hill) was ever actually meant for liturgical use but rather for a sacred concert in Passiontide.

3. Latin text music.
Stravinsky's Threni (Prom 25: BBC Singers/ London Sinfonietta/ Atherton) is a setting of texts from the Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ligeti's Lux Aeterna (Prom 35: Danish National Vocal Ensemble/ Dausgaard) takes the text from the Requiem Mass. Finally, Cadogan Hall plays host to another 'interesting' programme (PSM 5: Arditti Quartet/ Endymion/ BBC Singers/ David Hill) containing Taverner's Dum transisset and a fragment of the Missa Gloria tibi Trinitas. These excerpts are surrounded by musical 'reflections' by Brian Fernyhough (Dum transisset I-IV), Jonathan Harvey's Dum transisset sabbatum and Gabriel Jackson's In Nomine Domini.

The link to the Prom's Guide is here.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Books Received

The following recent books of interest are on the desk at the moment awaiting review or short notice.

Christopher Page, The Christian West and it's Singers. The First Thousand Years. (New Haven: Yale, 2010) 691 pp + illustrations.

Dom Daniel Saulnier, Gregorian Chant. A Guide to the History and Liturgy, trans. Mary Berry. (Brewster: Paraclete Press, 2009) 147 pp + illustrations.

David Hiley, Gregorian Chant [Cambridge Introductions to Music]. (Cambridge: CUP, 2009) 250 pp + illustrations.

Christopher Page's book is an extensive work covering an area largely where scholars have nor dared to go. Dom Saunier's book is a translation of his French text of 2003 which was in the final stages of preparation when Dr Berry died. David Hiley's book should not be confused with his previous magnum opus Western Plainchant. It contains much new material.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Welcome to the first posting of Jubal's Review. It's purpose is to become a place where the work of composers writing for the Latin liturgies may become better known and their compositions promoted. Over time we hope to put together a team of writers covering published music, recordings, interviews, and articles pertinent to the topic. One of the first tasks will be to create a 'links list' of living composers. If you are one of these people please feel free to leave a comment. The only thing we ask is that you are actively involved in writing either (a) sacred Latin music or (b) organ music suitable to the traditional liturgies. To answer a question in advance; Jubal is the earliest mention of a musician in Sacred Scripture (Genesis 4).