Friday, June 30, 2006

Gregorian Chant Training Day, 2006

Oxford’s ‘Gregorian Chant Training Day’, with Dr Mary Berry CBE

On Saturday 11th March, the renowned Gregorian Chant expert Dr Mary Berry prepared a group of more than twenty singers, including the incipient traditional scholas of both Oxford and Reading, to sing at Benediction and Mass, in the church of SS Gregory & Augustine, Oxford. Dr Berry gave a fascinating introduction to the history of the Chant and its notation, and proceeded to explain the principles of interpretation of early manuscripts, and the symbols used in the Liber Usualis. I am sure we all learnt a great many things we never knew we didn’t know, as well as being given very practical help and coaching in singing the chosen pieces. After a hearty hot lunch provided by Lucy Shaw at the Presbytery, we prepared the very beautiful Mass IV, and the propers for the Mass of St Gregory the Great, who, not content with converting the English, gave his name to the Chant and, with St Augustine of Canterbury, is the patron of the church. Mass was expertly MCed by David Forster, and the schola, conducted by Dr Berry, was a credit to the efforts of the singers, who had come from as far away as Powys to attend. Dr Berry’s energy is an example to us all, and we are tremendously grateful for her generosity with her time and expertise. Thanks are also due to Dr John Caldwell, the organist, and above all to Fr John Saward, who not only lent his charming church and Presbytery to us but celebrated the Benediction and Mass we sang at. The day was sponsored by the Latin Mass Society, and was a great boost to the cause of Gregorian Chant in Oxford and far beyond it.

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