OLLOQUIUM participants had a wonderful day on Tuesday. For those who have never attended a Colloquium, the general format involves morning chant rehearsals and afternoon polyphony rehearsals. Mixed in are usually a keynote address and a variety of breakout sessions. In the late afternoon, the chant and polyphony choirs sing the music they have been rehearsing for the day’s Mass.
The chant choir I chose this year is the one led by Wilko Brouwers. I have sung with him before, and my strongest recollection is that he is a man of many images. In our first rehearsal, he came through with several new images to help express certain points he was making. I’ll share with you just two of them.
First, Maestro Wilko was speaking to us about the natural pace of the chant. He encouraged us to think of every chant as a reaching out to what lies beyond, as if, he said, the most important note is just ahead, just around the next corner. In that way, the chanting stays lively throughout and maintains good pace.
The second image he gave concerns how to handle incipits. We were singing an introit, and when it came to the psalm verse, he paused our group of cantors at the incipit. Sometimes, he warned us, there is a tendency to give too much attention to these initial clusters of notes. When singing a psalm tone, though, Brouwers encouraged us to begin with a certain buoyancy that longs to reach the reciting tone. He compared singing the incipit to holding a ball under water and releasing it. Just as the ball moves in a clear and eager direction toward the surface, so should the chanter have a destination beyond the incipit in mind.
In the breakouts, I attended the new music session, moderated by David Hughes. There were no ladies in attendance, but a few talented male singers enabled us to sing through some SATB pieces. One piece I especially enjoyed was a setting of the Reproaches by Dr. Peter Kwasniewski. Once the piece is polished to his satisfaction, I hope someday he will publish this new work.
Mass was celebrated beautifully by Fr. Jason Schumer, who has served as a professor of liturgy at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary. In his homily, he reminded us of deeply significant words from the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy. He referenced this statement of the council fathers:
Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree. (Sacrosanctum Concilium #7)
It is important for us to remember that nothing we do in life is greater than the worship we offer to God. It is the constant worship of God, after all, that is the life of heaven.
Much more lies in store during our days in Saint Louis. I look forward to sharing my highlights soon!