N AUSTRALIA, anyone interested in sacred music is likely to cross paths with Ronan Reilly. He is something of a local legend. He’s the one on the left conducting. He appears seemingly at random around the country bringing amazing music to the most unlikely places.
Next to him is John Brazier, organist at Maternal Heart and co-conspirator in facilitating excellent music. He comes from a family of homeschooled over-achievers and manages to study Law in his spare time.
The other two are awesome too, but I haven’t met them.
And that is just the male quartet. Replace John with Rioghnach Wȩgrecka and you have the Prima Luce Quartet. Add a dozen more fantastic singers and there’s the large ensemble. Together they have just released their third album, this time a collection of Marian Hymns.
Listen to Arcadelt’s Ave Maria sung in the crypt of St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney:
Go, check out their official website: www.primalucemusic.com
The collection includes quite a few new arrangements and compositions. Here is a brief track listing. The CD liner notes give more detail – you can see how young some of the composers are. Track 17 is Virgo Dei Genetrix, starting with the chant as you’ll find in the Liber usualis, followed by a beautiful polyphonic setting composed by 19 year old Thomas McKendry.
Track 14 kinda stands out as it is a Little Hymn to St Joseph – hey! I thought this was a CD for Mary! but look – the composer is John Brazier and the lyrics written by his sister, a Carmelite at Elysberg, PA. How beautiful is that?
But it was Tracks 11 and 12 which won over our family’s biggest critic with the lively arrangements of Stella Splendens and Help of Christians. I was playing the CD in the car and he complained he asked for the volume to be turned up so he could hear it – we have separate speakers in the back.
Stephen Smith’s Hail Queen of Heaven makes a stunning change from the usual tune. Stephen Smith gave a workshop on Gregorian Chant way back before I had started attending a Latin Mass – I remember he patiently taught a bunch of us Attende Domine at a Carmelite Convent, then gathered in the chapel there to sing it for Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.
And that might just be what sets this group apart. They sing for the love of God. They are squarely aimed at giving glory to God. They are there on all the crazy pilgrimages (right now they’re between Ballarat and Bendigo). If you hear of a bunch of people singing in Latin in a McDonalds or a train station in Sydney, then you can bet it’s them.