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Renowned as composer, conductor, theorist, author, pedagogue, and organist, Aurelio Porfiri has served the Church on multiple continents at the highest levels. Born and raised in Italy, he currently serves as Director of Choral Activities and Composer in Residence for Santa Rosa de Lima School (Macao, China).
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“Since the ability of Francisco Guerrero is now abundantly known to all […] he shall henceforth act as master of the boys so long as: ( 1) he must teach them to read, write, and to sing the responsories, versicles, antiphons, lessons, and kalends, and other parts of divine service; (2) he shall teach them plainchant, harmony, and counterpoint, his instruction in counterpoint to include both the art of adding a melody to a plainsong and to an already existing piece of polyphonic music; (3) he shall always clothe them decently and properly, see that they wear good shoes, and ensure that their beds are kept perfectly clean; (4) he shall feed them the same food that he himself eats and never take money from them for anything having to do with their services in church or their musical instruction…” [cont’d]
— Málaga Cathedral Document (11 September 1551)

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Optimists & Pessimists
published 13 June 2015 by Aurelio Porfiri

631 Aurelio Porfiri WONDER WHY people think I’m too pessimistic about the situation of liturgical music. The problem is not Novus or Vetus Ordo; the problem is that the standard has changed. I will always remember one of my venerated teachers telling me that—of course—in the past also they were doing weird things in Church. Chronicles also exist which tell us about some strange music performed during the liturgy.

But what was the difference? There was a standard commonly accepted, so what was strange and “out of place” was perceived as such. Today it’s not. Today everything can be accepted because competence and good skills are replaced, in the eyes of up-to-date pastoral ministers with good intentions. I’ve already mentioned on many occasions the common sense of people saying that hell is paved with good intentions.

I am optimist in one sense; that we have the energy, resources, and talents to make the liturgy as splendid as it deserves. But my optimism turns to pessimism when I recognize that all these energies, resources, and talents—because of the lack of discernment—are basically flowing in a vacuum.

More articles by Aurelio Porfiri can be found on The Castaway.