OW MANY READERS have—at one time or another—considered giving up the church music vocation? I suspect most choirmasters have. After all, as youngsters we work so hard at musical perfection. We learn where “Middle C” is located. We learn about key signatures. We learn about staccato, sforzando, crescendo, and molto allegro. Our parents spend their life savings to buy us an instrument, obtain sheet music for us, and pay our teachers. Later on, we must figure out how to pay our professors at the conservatory. We sound the depths of Chopin, Grieg, Beethoven, Bach, Schumann, Schubert, Liszt, Debussy, Mendelssohn, and Mozart. We spend hours memorizing music. We learn how to perform before audiences, often through painful lessons. And on and on. Then, we finally get our first church job—only to discover staff members who betray us, parishioners who belittle us, and pastors who cause us anguish through abuse or (worst of all) through indifference.
Why We Stay • One reason we don’t quit is because of the power of sacred music: Cantus Gregorianus, Marenzio, Guerrero, Palestrina, Van Nuffel, and all our favorite composers. Another reason we don’t quit is because we see the influence we have on a new generation of choirmasters, organists, and singers. A few days ago, I recorded a SANCTUS by William Byrd, a Catholic composer of the Late Renaissance. One of my students provided the other voices.
Her name is Claire, and listen to how well she sings:
Another “William” Who Composes • Another reason we don’t quit is because of the terrific colleagues we meet. One such colleague is Maestro William Fritz of CYPRIAN STUDIOS. His kindness, generosity, and humility are outstanding. Moreover, he’s a phenomenal musician, theorist, organist, and composer. He was recently selected to study privately with Sir James MacMillan, the famous Scottish composer. Maestro Fritz has written a gorgeous AGNUS DEI which will be sung for the very first time during Sacred Music Symposium 2023:
M Rehearsal videos for each individual voice await you at #40878.
Deep Sadness: Most readers won’t click on the individual voice parts, and that makes me glum. When we post a “scandalous” liturgical video, we get 40,000 views. I wish we could get as many views for the rehearsal videos! They take forever to create. Moreover, those who fail to click on those links will miss out on downloading free PDF scores.
“BBB” (Brief Byrd Biography) • William Byrd, famous English composer, was named Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1572AD where he stayed for approximately 20 years. In 1575AD, Byrd and Tallis were jointly granted a monopoly on music printing for 21 years. Circa 1594AD, he moved with his wife and children to a small village called Stondon Massey. His ownership of Stondon Place—where he lived for the rest of his life—was contested by Joanna Shelley, causing a legal dispute lasting about 15 years. From the early 1570s onwards, Byrd became increasingly involved with Catholicism, met Father Robert Southwell (whose works are featured in the Brébeuf Hymnal), and was increasingly persecuted by the Anglicans for his adherence to Catholicism. Despite repeated citations for recusancy (and heavy fines), he died a rich man.