M The following email was sent to us
M by a Singaporean musician who
M attended the FSSP Symposium last week:
HEN I HEARD THAT the Sacred Music Symposium was going to be held this year after a hiatus of the past two years (due to Covid-19) I immediately decided to obtain a plane ticket and fly 8,700 miles from Singapore to take part. I had attended the 2018 and 2019 symposiums. Those experiences were so wonderfully enriching—singing and learning from the best people in Catholic liturgical music—that I just wanted to learn some more.
Richly Resplendent: I had such an amazing time! Sure, the schedule was packed full from 8:00AM to 8:00PM … but there was so much to learn and so little time! The enthusiasm of Jeff Ostrowski was palpable. From his great love of Bach’s Die Kunst der Fuge (“Art of Fugue”), he took us through the Stretto, the Canon, and other tools used by the best composers. Then he carefully pointed out all the amazing ways in which Bach and Palestrina and Guerrero made incredible music, so that we could understand that there was a depth of intricate artistry, craft and genius that went into this music (which we were about to sing at the symposium). It was awe-inspiring to know that our Catholic heritage is richly resplendent with music that is crafted and made with such beauty and with such holy intent. These are the musical treasures that everyone needs to know about. These are the beautifully crafted musical masterpieces that are so fitting for the worship of God in our churches—and I do hope more people come to know about this music.
Dr. Calabrese: Dr. Alfred Calabrese was also very inspirational in his conducting classes. I loved how he approached music with all the senses, encouraging us to be able to feel the music, to ‘touch the music’ so as to convey it to the senses. I loved how he was so finely attuned to how tempo and rhythm and the cadence of musical phrases all work together to serve the deeper meaning of each musical piece. I saw each piece anew under the conducting guidance of Dr. Calabrese.
Composer Kevin Allen: Kevin Allen was as usual a joy to listen to. Humble, good-natured and immensely gifted, his beautiful pieces truly reflect the beauty of the reality hidden beneath the sacraments that we celebrate. I wish we had gotten to sing ‘Lead Kindly Light’ again. Every piece by Kevin Allen is so beautiful that one just wants to sing it again and again.
Andrea Leal: Andrea Leal gave really good tips on how to start a children’s choir, and Charlotte Lansberg shared how to make the best of a small choir. I truly appreciated all the very useful tips that they both gave. (The presenters also made it clear the symposium could not happen without the generosity of Andrea Leal.)
William Fritz: William Fritz was wonderful to learn from; especially when it came to organ techniques for pianists and I’m thankful for his tips on how to accompany Vespers on the organ, not to mention how helpful he was in kindly letting the symposium attendees have the space at St. John the Baptist church for the symposium.
Professor Clark: Richard Clark gave some truly inspiring, earth-shaking, jaw-dropping organ improvisations that truly brought forth the glory and majesty of the music that evening at Mass. What a humble and deeply talented musician he is! I loved how he spoke to us about sacred silence and how we should foster that silence during the prayers at vespers. He taught us how to say a quiet ‘Ave Maria’ in between the vesper verses, so as to plunge into that silence, just for a little while.
Vatican Calls: We even had a live ‘video call’ from the Vatican’s organist, and it was uplifting to hear him talk about how we needed courage and fortitude in the face of adversity, to offer up the best music for the worship of God!
The Zenith: And the highlight of it all was being able to sing altogether at Mass on the very last day to celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart—and what a celebration it was, especially since it was also the very day that Roe Vs. Wade was overturned. Thanks be to God for His infinite Mercy!