M The following email was sent to us
M by a Texas choirmaster who attended
M the FSSP Symposium last week:
Introduction: I serve as music director for a large Catholic church near Austin, TX. A most heartfelt congratulations to your team on orchestrating such a beautiful, successful and—most importantly—fruitful symposium. Below I describe a few highlights … if I can stick to just a few!
Symposium Faculty: To begin, the faculty were all magnificent. They wasted not a single opportunity to educate us—and they did it with such good humour, enormous kindness, and deep humility. I gained so much knowledge just by watching them. It was also heartwarming to see the relationship you all shared, I could tell that you all truly care about one another and want to see everyone succeed for the good of the Kingdom!
Kevin Allen: I was able to attend composition lessons with Kevin Allen, who was an absolute delight to work with. Mr. Allen composed a six-measure CANTUS FIRMUS and we were tasked with writing a counter-point against it, following certain compositional guidelines that he had put into place. What seemed a simple and straight-forward task was, in fact, herculean; we spent 1.5 hours analyzing only two attendee’s harmony-lines! I share this, because I was able to put to use all that Mr. Allen taught us just one day after I returned home from the symposium. (I was in a pinch with an unexpected funeral upon my return and needed a setting for psalm 143, which I was able to compose in just one evening!)
Alfred Calabrese: Conducting lessons with Dr. Calabrese were fascinating, he is not only a genius at his craft and immensely musically gifted, but again—as with all the staff—his love for Christ was illuminated as he directed, which had an effect on everyone there. And he cared just as much for the text and music to be heard and felt as he did for the moments of silence to be heard and felt, where all music begins and has its end. Again, when I returned for work, I used a few of his warm-up techniques as well as directing methods for my choirs on Sunday morning and with much success!
Richard Clark: I also had the privilege of working under Professor Clark for chant-training each day before Vespers. He treated Gregorian chant with such a delicateness and prayerfulness, we were all mesmerized. When the time came for us ladies to sing the Gradual, he had formed us into an actual force of nature. You could feel the power of the Holy Spirit moving about the Church; this was due, in large part, because of his humble disposition, which allowed a pathway for God’s will and work to be done. I wouldn’t even know where to begin with his organ pre/inter/postludes, I had to keep reminding myself to keep my mouth closed. (I was not the only person gaping at his skills on the pipe organ.)
Weeping: The whole week—from top to bottom—was blessed. By Friday’s end, when we had finished singing the Mass for the Feast of the Sacred Heart, I found myself weeping, almost in disbelief…disbelief that I was really there not only with the Holy of Holies, but also with the great musical giants of the modern church, echoing the primordial song of the liturgy where Christ has conquered sin and death, surrounded by people who are sincerely faithful, good and genuine in their desire to serve through music, to serve through silence, to serve through obedience. I even noticed a few of the male participants in tears (in addition to the female participants).
My Promise: Here is my promise to your faculty, and to the Mother Church: I will take all that I have learned, and I will spread it as best as I can. I will sing it from the mountaintops! I have every intention of returning next year and every year thereafter, though I’ll have to prepare better…had I known I would be returning with such a generous gift, I would have brought a larger bag! How charitable SOPHIA INSTITUTE PRESS to gift each of us with their magnificent pew books! Not only were we blessed to spend time with and learn from some of the most wonderful teachers Catholic Traditional America has to offer, but we were given physical tools to assist us in our mission! I will be putting the books and all that I have learned to good use.
Forever Changed: I have long followed the work of Corpus Christi Watershed, so there was never a doubt that the sacred music conference would be anything short of brilliant. However, more than that, what you accomplished was truly MIRACULOUS. As I told you before, my one complaint is that there simply wasn’t enough time to do everything!
On Cloud Nine: Every class and rehearsal I attended was invaluable to me—not just as a music director and a musician, but as a Catholic as well. I had lunch with my fellow staff members this afternoon. After explaining to my business administrator how wonderful the conference was, he said: “I can tell you’re still on cloud nine; you’re levitating as you speak of it!” Your faculty may never know the depth of how you affected each person there, but I can say, for my part, that I am changed forever and feel a renewed sense of hope and confidence in the mission and purpose God has laid out before me in my ministry. Please keep me in prayer. I will hold you and yours in the same.
From Chino Valley, Arizona:
“We who participated will have this beautiful sacred music residing in our brains for months to come. Close your eyes, and you can experience it whenever you need affirmation moments and let it fill your soul. I remember when we first worked up and sang Kevin Allen’s Lead Kindly Light some years ago. I could hear it for a very long time.”
From Culver City, California:
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart for the experience of a lifetime at the symposium this past week. It was an incredibly beautiful and moving experience.”
From Wilmington, California:
“I was honored to be allowed to attend this Sacred Music symposium. I was surrounded by men and women that having been doing this for years and are great at it! …Me? Only a mere 18 months in a Church choir—but although I felt overwhelmed at the amount of music and information, I LOVED EVERY MINUTE! Praying to God through music, Psalms, hymns, Vespers and Friday Mass was like being IN HEAVEN! Thank you Jeff, Dr. Calabrese, Richard, Charles, Kevin, and everyone else that made this an amazing experience!”
Three (3) Messages from Cullman, Alabama:
“Ave Maria! I just wanted to thank you (and all the faculty) for an amazing week at the Symposium! I will always be grateful for all that has taken place this week. From the informational talks to the detailed rehearsals, it all was worth it for our Lord! There were times when I got caught up in the technical aspects of things … but one glimpse at our Lord on Crucifix instantly gave value and meaning to what I was singing. May the Hearts of Jesus, Mother Mary, and Saint Joseph Bless and sanctify all who came to the Symposium and all who worked to prepare it.”
“Praised be Jesus Christ! The Sacred Music Symposium was very much a dream to me. From listening to the beautiful music from past Symposia, looking at the countless posts on the CCWatershed website, and just praying that one day I would be able to attend this wonderful event. Having been in a choir for two years, I thought that I would not be able to go for a very long time—because of my big misconception that it was only for the most experienced singers, directors, etc. I erroneously believed I couldn’t possibly catch on. So, as you can imagine, it was the greatest opportunity and blessing from the Lord to be able to participate in one of the best experiences of my life. I came to sing not knowing what was in store for me—and I learnt and got SO MUCH more! From Mr. Ostrowski’s clever and insightful seminars; being able to witness Mr. Weaver, Mr. Clark, and Dr. Calabrese’s excellence in the field of Sacred Music and masterful choral direction (I still can’t get over it to this day); seeing Mr. Kevin Allen in person (our choir’s hero and favorite composer, God bless you Mr. Allen!); the informative breakout sessions by Mrs. Leal, Mr. Fritz, and other faculty; and finally, to be able to sing the beautiful Vespers every afternoon and the final Solemn High Mass in honor of the Sacred Heart with over 90 people (nothing can ever compare to the sound of singing with that many people). It has been three weeks since my attendance at the 2022 Sacred Music Symposium and needless to say, it is an experience I will never forget. Thank you so much, Mr. Ostrowski and to all the faculty—you have given us the tools and resources to come back to our choir with renewed vigor to fulfill our mission: to give honor and glory to God and to sanctify and edify the faithful. May our Lord and King, our Lord Jesus Christ, through Our Lady and St. Joseph, bless you! Be assured of our prayers for you and the faculty in continuing your apostolate!”
“Oh, how the Symposium echoed the words of Cardinal Merry Del Val: …choosing only what is most conformed to Thy glory, which is my final aim. In one short and fast paced week, the faculty and attendees showed me the hand of God and our Lady working in our lives. The wide range of education—from Gregorian Chant, jazz modes in organ improvisation, to ‘staying sane’ while leading a choir—were certainly first-class knowledge from the best teachers of the art. However, the most powerful lesson was learning how to pray as a choir. The sacrifice of putting songs together, taking time to learn the sacred text, meditating on the church teaching through the chants, and gaining the virtues required to persevere in these duties were not only qualities of a choir but of a saint. The sanctification of the lives of the attendees was a beautiful outcome of this event … and that in itself is worth more than a beautifully-sung Solesmes style chant! Thank you again for allowing me to really have “an experience of a lifetime.” We are truly grateful for all the hard work you have put in, seen and unseen. Your sacrifices and prayers are surely heard. May God continue to bless your apostolate, grant you many more graces!”
From San Fernando, California:
“When I walked into the hall for the Sacred Music Symposium, I knew I was in for a great time. What I didn’t know was how amazing it would be. During the Sacred Music Symposium, I met all the amazing staff that made this happen. I met the talented attendees and got to know them. I learned holy, sacred, and amazing music. I sang at the beautiful mass of a newly ordained FSSP priest. When I walked out with a heavenly experience under my belt, I knew I was coming back next year.”
From West Covina, California:
“I was super intimidated to be in choir C with all those fabulous musicians, but I got through it! Also, watching the conductors was super awesome and insightful. Thank you for all of the work you put into this! I had many people tell me how much they enjoyed the symposium. By the way, we were all amazed to receive a live telephone call from the Vatican organist! You guys rock!”
From South Bend, Indiana:
“I am extremely thankful and feel truly blessed to have been able to participate in the Sacred Music Symposium. I have attended the Symposium four (4) times and it never ceases to amaze me how much I gain, and as a result, my parish gains from my attendance. For me, it is a retreat: Daily Vespers, Mass, and Father Fryar’s keynote address are spiritually edifying and hopefully sanctifying. In addition, I am able to focus on Sacred Music for Jesus Christ and His Church and learn with other like minded Catholic musicians. I enjoy the extremely intense week of Sacred Music. The Symposium inspires me to learn more about Sacred Music and strive to improve my choir, myself as a director, and all the music at my parish for the greater of God. I am very thankful for Jeff, Andrea, Kevin Allen, Dr. Calabrese, Charles Weaver, Mr. Fritz, Charlotte Lansberg, and Richard Clark for all their hard work in developing and directing the beautiful music we sang at the Symposium. I was also very pleased with the break-out sessions at which I learned how to improve my directing skills … and also all the seminars which were very informative and helpful. I certainly hope to see everyone next year!”
From Costa Mesa, California:
“Thank you so very much for putting together the Sacred Music Symposium this year, it was very much appreciated! Thank you for permitting me to be part of it as a singer, I feel immensely blessed, uplifted and inspired! May God please bless you both in all your endeavours!”
From Chatsworth, California:
“I really enjoyed Sacred Music Symposium 2022!!!! It was an incredible experience. I learned so much: how to sing Vespers, how the choir has an integral part in the graces received from the Mass, more about Gregorian chant and the “sloppy” variations that arose (I wasn’t aware there were any significant differences), and much much more… I’m still trying to wrap my head around all the concepts that were talked about, but it’s all super fascinating. I am beyond happy to have had the opportunity to learn from and sing with such wonderful musicians. And the music we sang was truly beautiful. I am thankful God let me experience this! I am also grateful that God made do with my limited singing ability/experience to achieve His purpose. Thank you for letting me be a part of this amazing experience!”
From San Fernando, California:
“I am truly blessed to have been able to experience Symposium. I enjoyed seeing so many people with a passion for sacred music, and I’m incredibly thankful for those who put it all together. I am definitely returning next year!”
From Lancaster, Ohio:
“Your faculty’s energy and efforts for these Sacred Music Symposia are unparalleled … and very very much appreciated. The music for Friday’s Mass was incredible! Absolutely beautiful on every level. Bravo bravo! I can’t wait for the next one.”
From New Zealand:
“I congratulate the team who organise this amazing five-day Sacred Music Symposium. It was an incredible experience both spiritually and musically. The talks were informative and engaging. The workshops were extremely helpful both musically as well as practically. The timetable was not too overwhelming. It was such a joy to see people who shares their passion about Sacred Music and their love of the Church and Her Sacred Liturgy. Most of all, it was a wonderful experience to meet and sing with all the amazing musicians in the symposium. I strongly recommend any music director especially ones serving FSSP apostolates worldwide should attend this symposium. Once again, thank you.”
From Las Vegas, NV:
“I am an elementary music teacher and cantor in the diocese of Las Vegas, NV. I must say, the sacred music symposium was phenomenal. Many of my fellow liturgical musicians back home kept coming to mind all throughout the symposium; I really think they would enjoy it. I urge anyone who serves in any type of music ministry to consider attending next year (or at least prays on attending). In case any Latin Mass skeptics are afraid of attending for fear of it being some “rad trad” event, I can assure them that there was not one bit of hating on Novus Ordo … if anything, it was the opposite! The entire experience is for any musician who cares about reverence and following the actual rules for liturgies of either form.”
* PDF Download • Participants + Faculty
—Sacred Music Symposium 2022 • “high resolution image.”