Monday, June 04, 2007

Gregorian Chant Training Day 2007

The Gregorian Chant Training Day took place on Saturday 2nd June, Ember Saturday after Pentecost (Whit Saturday). Due to Dr Berry's indisposition, the day was led by Philip Duffy, who directed music at Liverpool's Catholic Cathedral for thirty years, and coached our group with great skill, erudition, patience, good humour and enthusiasm. Twenty singers participated in the day, including some American singers from Cape Cod who were visiting Dr Berry, and others from all over England, including a visitor from York.
Fr John Saward, Priest in Charge at SS Gregory & Augustine's Church in the Woodstock Road, Oxford, gave us the use of his Parish Hall, and we sang at his regular Saturday Benediction at 11, and then at a special Missa Cantata at 3.30pm, which he celebrated. Since this was the Ember Saturday of Pentecost, the Mass and the music were of a special solemnity, combining the last day of Eastertide with the penitential character of the Ember Days. So we sang numerous Alleluias, and the magnificent 'Golden Sequence', the Veni Sancte Spiritus of Pentecost, commonly regarded as one of the greatest masterpieces of sacred Latin poetry ever written, a contribution to the Church's musical patrimony made by an Englishman, Archbishop Langton of Canterbury (d. 1228).
Mr Duffy succeeded in the impressive feat of turning a group of twenty singers, of all levels of experience of singing the Chant, and none of singing with each other, into an servicable choir in time for Mass, and indeed this was the most musically impressive Traditional Mass ever celebrated in Oxford, in the present writer's memory. Thanks to Mr Duffy for his time and effort, to Dr Berry and her assistants for their help, to our MC David Forster and his team of servers, to Lucy Shaw for her splendid lunch and to Fr John Saward, our host and celebrant. Such a hugely enjoyable day must certainly be repeated!

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