About this blogger:
Andrew Leung is a seminarian for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio. He has served as Director of Music at St. Pius X Church (Atlanta) and taught Gregorian chant at the Cistercian Monastery of the Holy Spirit (Georgia). For two years, he will be studying in Macau, China.
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“In spite of what it is currently called, the music of these songs is not modern: this musical style is not new, but has been played in the most profane places and surroundings (cabarets, music halls, often for more or less lascivious dances with foreign names). The people are led on to rock or swing. They all feel an urge to dance about. That sort of “body language” is certainly alien to our Western culture, unfavorable to contemplation and its origins are rather suspect. Most of the time our congregations, which already find it hard not to confuse the crochets and the quavers in a 6/8 bar, do not respect the rhythm; then one no longer feels like dancing, but with the rhythm gone to pieces, the habitual poorness of the melodic line becomes all the more noticeable.”
— Unnamed choirmaster (Northern France) circa 1986

The New Way of the “Sistina”
published 21 September 2017 by Andrew Leung

CTL The New Way of the Sistina HE POPE’S CHOIR is currently on a concert tour in the USA. They have performed in New York City last weekend and they just finished their visit to Washington, DC; their next appearance will be at the Detroit Opera House this coming Saturday. I recently received an email from Msgr. Massimo Palombella with some comments on my previous post. In the email, the Maestro introduced and explained to me the choir’s new way of singing.

I am sure that many of our readers have noticed that the Sistine Chapel Choir, under the direction of Maestro Palombella, has radically changed their way of singing in recent years. He said that they have moved from the 19th century operatic tone to a Renaissance tone with coherent phrasing and an attempt to create an aesthetic relevant to the material they are singing. The papal choir has been trying to recreate this “Renaissance tone”, which Msgr. Palombella has done extensive research on and studied many manuscripts. He explains:

This vocal technique does not incorporate the third register and therefore requires a very covered, precise tone, but with all that Mediterranean warmth that we Italians have in our tone… I believe that Renaissance music is a synthesis of rhetorical devices, tension and release that requires continuous use of the messa di voce technique. It is in and of itself a very lively music.

Now, the choir gives much attention to the text whenever they sing, which is believed to be the practice during the High Renaissance. Their recent “conversion” was so significant that it caught the attention of Deutsche Grammophon, which led to the recording of the CD, Cantate Domino, in 2015. And here is how the Renaissance tone of the Sistine Chapel Choir sound like!