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Ordained in 2011, Father Friel served for five years as Parochial Vicar at St. Anselm Parish in Northeast Philly. He is currently studying toward an STL in sacred liturgy at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
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“Oh, the happy choir director who is hired to start work on a brand new choir, or who walks into his first rehearsal a total stranger to the existing group—what a fortunate man he is! The new choir director who is a former member of the choir, or a member of the congregation, or the nephew of the alto soloist, or a former altar boy, or otherwise well acquainted with the choir, is in for a few headaches.”
— Paul Hume (1956)

Colloquium 2013
published 23 June 2013 by Fr. David Friel

ALT LAKE CITY is a beautiful place. I have spent the last week here, along with some of you, participating in the annual Sacred Music Colloquium, sponsored by the CMAA. So many of the graces of my first Colloquium two years ago have been renewed throughout this week.

Again this year, I learned an incredible amount. With the help of a talented faculty, I cracked the code on the basics of chironomy, learned the fundamentals of modern conducting, and gained the confidence to approach the bass part of Guerrero’s phenomenally colorful Requiem Mass. We were blessed to hear an engaging personal witness from Msgr. Wadsworth of ICEL, and Archbishop Sample of Portland offered the most extraordinary statement on sacred music and the cosmic liturgy I have heard from any bishop other than our beloved Pope Emeritus. We participated in liturgies brimming with beauty, and the Gloria from the Mass of the English Martyrs (available from Corpus Christi Watershed!) was even featured at Sunday’s closing Mass.

Perhaps more than any of these things, what I have enjoyed most about my Colloquium experiences has been the opportunity to meet other musicians committed to making music consonant with the mind of the Church. When we think we are alone—that no one else longs for authentically sacred music—we should remind ourselves that it isn’t so. There are good people throughout our country (and beyond) who share the vision and the burden.

The folks I have met in Pittsburgh and in Salt Lake City are not merely kindred spirits, but true friends. For this reason, Colloquium is a wonderful experience. If you have never been to one, consider attending next year, perhaps bringing along another choir member or priest. It’s a time for those of us who know each other mostly via the Internet to spend time in one another’s presence; it’s a time to challenge one another, to learn from one another, and to encourage one another.

May the Lord continue to prosper the work of our hands, our hearts, and our voices!