About this blogger:
A theorist, organist, and conductor, Jeff Ostrowski holds his B.M. in Music Theory from the University of Kansas (2004), and did graduate work in Musicology. He serves as choirmaster for the new FSSP parish in Los Angeles, where he resides with his wife and children.
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One may not condemn the congregation to worthless music or songs of the cheapest type under the pretext of “pastoral need.” Only a music which attracts the congregation through the power of its beauty, sanctity and general appeal will be pastorally effective. Otherwise the people will turn away in disgust (“a liturgia abhorrebit”) because the music used in the liturgy is inappropriate and banal (“ratione deformitatis seu inanitatis”). Unfortunately, he concluded, this is often enough the case at present.
— Archbishop Nicodemo, speaking during Vatican II (Translation by Dr. Robert Skeris)

Watershed: Established Ten Years Ago Today!
published 19 October 2016 by Jeff Ostrowski
|“Corpus Christi Watershed is doing very important work for the Church.”
|Fr. Pierre Paul, Choirmaster at St. Peter’s Basilica (Vatican City). |

ATERSHED was established ten years today, the feast of the Jesuit Martyrs of North America (in the Ordinary Form). I was not part of Watershed when it was founded, but since 2002 I had already been dedicating personal projects to the Jesuit Martyrs. For example, the choir I conducted for a 2003 Sacred music CD was called THE SAINT GABRIEL LALEMANT SCHOLA CANTORUM.

In the first section, I will describe a marvelous “coincidence” having to do with these martyrs, but first I wish to publicly thank all those who have contributed to Watershed’s success. Hundreds of people have worked—quietly, humbly, behind the scenes—to assist Watershed. In a special way, I thank our contributors, listed on our blog sidebar. And I thank a generous person who donated financially in our early years.

When I began working for Watershed, I decided to dedicate any project I was responsible for to the martyrs: Garnier, Lalande, Goupil, Jogues, and so forth. Below, a purple picture shows the very first project (CHABANEL PSALMS) launched in 2007. The other photograph, circa 2003, shows part of my library, which would eventually be scanned by Watershed to create the Lalande Library:

One of my favorite memories was helping produce a 60-minute Sacred music documentary in 2009. The location was Loyola University, where my parents first met. Watershed had employees in those days, and when we showed up to film, we were greeted with LARGE NAMES OF THE MARTYRS (see below):

Someday, we’d love to create more videos like that: it was a blast! Watershed will soon release a project—which is nearing completion—having to do with the NOH. We did a project in 2002 with these Belgian accompaniments, and the following picture shows Fr. Meinrad Miller, OSB, helping us. You can also see a much younger Jeff Ostrowski reviewing the NOH with Dr. Mark Holmberg in 2002. (Dr. Holmberg was known for his astonishing proficiency in figured bass.)

I could list many more “mysterious” happenings regarding the North American Martyrs. For example, the bishop who helped us during an organizational crisis chose SAINT RENÉ GOUPIL as his religious name and kept it even after he was consecrated a bishop.

Years after these martyr projects began, we discovered that the Texas Secretary of State had chosen 19 October to officially recognize our organization.

Does this strike you as a coincidence?

Our blog, VIEWS FROM THE CHOIR LOFT, has garnered thousands of “thank you” letters from all over the world. Much could be said about the blog, but I’d like to highlight just four points today:

(1) POSITIVE :  The defining characteristic of our blog is that it’s positive and constructive. What our readers don’t know is how difficult that is! The temptation to “go negative” and “make a splash” can be overwhelming at times. We didn’t know whether such a blog, exclusively positive, could survive in a blogosphere almost wholly dedicated to calumny, dishonesty, and sensationalist nonsense—but I can announce today that people do appreciate our efforts!

(2) RESPECT FOR THE READER :  We avoid the “cut and paste” mentality of ephemeral blogs, even though this requires tremendous effort on the part of our contributors. We feel that if folks are willing to read what we write, the least we can do is make sure the formatting is excellent and the links function.

(3) PEOPLE WHO PRODUCE :  We created Views from the Choir Loft in part to counteract a common tendency of the Roman Catholic liturgical world. Specifically, we noticed that much of the commentary was by people who had never directed a choir—and such people (often) should not be giving advice. That’s because only those who have stood in front of a choir realize how difficult it is.

(4) YOUR RESPONSE :  Choirmasters and organists—and lay Catholics, for that matter!—who believe the liturgy should be beautiful and traditional have a very difficult road. They are always being told to forget about “all that old stuff” and embrace the path of least resistance. It can be a lonely world. However, what keeps us going is knowing that many wonderful people exist “out there.” And this is a source of great consolation to us.

If you appreciate our efforts, please consider donating $5.00 per month. We are a 100% volunteer organization; none of us is paid. We cannot continue without our monthly donors.