HIS COMING SATURDAY, (8 July 2023) at 7:00PM Pacific time, EWTN will be broadcasting a concert of 8 sacred choral pieces just composed three months ago as part of a Composer’s Institute organized by the Catholic Sacred Music Project (co-sponsored by the Benedict XVI Institute). I was one of eight composers selected to spend a week composing and having tutoring with Sir James MacMillan in Alexandria, Virginia. Each day we had ample time to compose, have lessons, chat with each other and for rehearsals. Above all we had the opportunity to attend holy Mass daily, and we capped the end of each day with sung Compline. At the conclusion of the week, we had two premiere concerts, one of which was at the Franciscan Monastery of the Holy Land in the Americas.
The texts were all hymns from the office of the feast of Corpus Christi. I personally received the Pange Lingua (Corporis Mysterium). With the other composers receiving one of the hymns of the various hours. The concert includes three pieces composed by MacMillan, of which Do Not Be Afraid received its American premiere. This piece was composed for the funeral mass of Cardinal Pell, a friend of Sir James MacMillan. I hope you are able to tune in!
I want to write a lengthier reflection on the week in a subsequent post, but the week was a tangible and powerful reminder that sacred choral music is alive and well, and that serious composers today take much inspiration from the sacred and theological texts of the Faith. Taken together with MacMillan being one of the most performed living classical composers who puts his faith front and center—I believe there is a building movement towards revitalizing and renewing a culture that connects the Beautiful with the Divine.
You do not need a subscription to view on EWTN, as you can find it here, at their website for streaming. The individual works are also available already on the Benedict XVI Institute’s YouTube Channel here.
A complete lineup of the concert:
A New Song, Sir James MacMillan
A Fantasy on Pange Lingua (Vespers), William J Fritz
Te lucis ante terminum (Compline), Michael Garrepy
Rector potens, verax Deus (Sext), Kristian Schembri
Iam lucis orto sidere (Prime), Sam Schiebe
Ave Maris Stella, Sir James MacMillan
Nunc, Sancte, nobis, Spiritus (Terce), Aidan Vass
Rerum, Deus, tenax, vigor (None), Zachary Landress
Verbum supernum (Lauds), Wilhelmina Esary
Sacris solemniis (Matins), Samuel Rowe
Do Not Be Afraid, Sir James MacMillan
There will be an encore broadcast on Friday, 14 July 2023, at 12:30 PM Pacific time.