Entrance Lauda Sion Salvatorum Joncas
Psalm 33 May Your Love be upon us Bernard Sexton
Communion Come Receive Christ Phyllis Wayne
Recession Let All Creation Sing David Ogden
Mass of Renewal by Bernard Sexton
contributions from dedicated choir director Orla Barry
We Must Glory in the Cross Joncas
Words of Everlasting Life Chris de Silva
Draw Near in Faith Walker
Lord Jesus, Give Us the Bread of Life John Jones Sr Maeliosa Byrne
Jubilate Deo Omnis Terra Stephen Dean
Mass of St Paul by Ephram Feeley
While trad musicians made their annual pilgrimage to Clare for Willie Clancy Week. I travelled East to the gathering of Irish Church Music Association Summer School in Maynooth held in July and attended afternoon and evening events on Wednesday and Thursday. There was a good buzz with numbers appearing to be up on last year. I enjoyed the programme of liturgical music accompanying Wednesday's service. The rousing Joncas gathering hymn with a Latin refrain would suit most choirs and the upbeat syncopated closing number should fit well into schools' and gospel choir repertoire. While I liked Bernard Sexton's Mass settings, in general I found the psalms on both days not quite stringent enough. I believe 'ooh... ' has no place in the lexicon of a psalm setting and my toes curl in sympathy with the embouchure if I have to sing such a lyric in a liturgical context. In Thursday's liturgy, Chris de Silva's setting of psalm 19, Words of Everlasting Life while very melodious also included the dreaded syllable with florid piano interlude and the number was a bit 'Tin Pan Alley' for my taste. This is definitely one for choir only with echoing of phrases between vocal parts. Christoper Walker's short hymn 'Draw Near in Faith' was very tranquil lovely four part setting of a Communion text. There was an organic feel to the proceedings with the inclusion of Lord Jesus Give Us the Bread of Life featuring an attractive anthem like refrain by participant John Jones from 2010 Composition seminars. The special choir contributed some beautiful numbers under director Orla Barry. Splendid organ voluntaries by David Connolly and Eoin Tierney rounded off the proceedings.
There was much focus on change in the missal and the adaption of musical settings in accordance. As I was not present at any of dedicated familiarisation sessions, I can't comment on the formal pronouncements Informally there was some concern expressed at a further divergence from the Anglican wording which seems to counteract any ecumenical movement to common settings of liturgies . There was a sense that while modest in the scale of changes in our lifetime, there was little enthusiasm for them and it is not as if there are not more pressing matters in ecclesiastical matters generally. However church musicians are a stoic band and applied themselves to absorbing the changes and making adjustments over the week. One fortunate consequence is the publication of a compilation of popular Mass settings 'Sing the Mass' including revisions and this should be a very useful resource particularly as some of the Mass settings have been out of print.
Cantando under director Orla Barry gave a concert in the St Patrick's Church . This is a very long space and problematic for a performance particularly of chamber groups. I felt they would have had more impact positioning themselves in the centre in the pews as they seemed very far away from their audience.
Fiona Walsh of Ennis Gospel Choir had an interesting proposition regarding pop up liturgical choir. It was good to meet familiar faces and also to make new contacts. I enjoyed talking to Betty Fitzgerald from Cork about her school projects and Aine Mohoric about her music therapy work in Crumlin. Fr. Brian Power from Waterford had some interesting observations about congregational singing in rural Deise parishes. I joined Olive O Brien, Caitlin Ni Mhaoldomhnaigh from Tulla and Limerick liturgist Joe O Connor for dinner in the magnificent Pugin refectory. I made some enquiries among delegates about progress in initiating vespers in their churches, a practice promoted at 2009 summer school particularly for cathedral parishes but it would appear not to have become established practice in Irish Catholic churches. While the gathering continues to be useful for familiarising liturgical musicians with lots of repertoire, I believe there is scope to include more in the way of discusssion and advice on the practical side of running choirs like
*PR ; using local media to promote choir endeavours;
*atttracting a gender balance in new recruits (usually means more tenors and basses ),
*maybe some consideration of aspects of philosophy in relation to sacred music ,
*Encouraging the congregation to participate . Is it important? Some congregations seem to participate more than others . What constitutes good practice in this regard?
You can read my report from the 2010 Summer School on this link.
Chairman Paul Kenny presided over the proceedings and kept things moving along in genial fashion . I stayed in St Patrick's College building itself which where my comfortable room looked out on the carefully tended quadrangle greens and was good value for a tranquil and historic location.