R. RODERICK ROYCE graduated from BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY (Idaho) with a bachelor’s degree in music education. He has sung in multiple choirs through the years, including the Cathedral of Saint John the Evangelist (Roman Catholic) under Dr. Ray Morvant. He has taught orchestra for about thirteen years. Mr. Royce recently sent the following message vis-à-vis Jeff Ostrowski’s seminar: “Secrets of the Conscientious Choirmaster”.
Jeff Ostrowski is a choirmaster based in Los Angeles, California. He and a group of individuals have created the Corpus Christi Watershed website to supply musicians with musical resources for Catholic choirs. Ostrowski’s latest resource is a seminar: Secrets of the Conscientious Choirmaster. The seminar is focused on choral music (motets, hymns, Mass settings, and so forth) useful to those who provide music at the Extraordinary Form (“Latin Mass”) or at the Ordinary Form (“Novus Ordo Missae”). Ostrowski introduces techniques and tools to help choirmasters improve as musicians and fall in love with the art of learning choral music all over again. Various items are treated: singing liturgical pieces of Catholic Music in Latin (including polyphonic pieces); Gregorian Chant, which is written in different modes; video recordings; and printable sheet music. Ostrowski teaches the choirmaster to better direct anybody—from an ‘average’ parishioner to the veteran choir member—how to sing hymnody in SATB parts and contrapuntal lines in polyphonic masterworks. He explains how to ‘build up’ the individual to add to the strength of the choir. He also encourages choirs to pray before rehearsals to strengthen their Catholic faith. Ostrowski has a “just do it” mentality. He patiently shows how to ‘speak’ and use Solfège on the most inspiring and difficult polyphonic pieces. Specimens he examines would include fugues and masterworks using imitative polyphony by Palestrina, Victoria, Guerrero, Croft, Morley, Lassus, and Josquin. After watching his seminar, I am more prepared to spend rehearsal time wisely, communicate effectively, and apply the tools he has taught me to help improve choir members.
You can watch the 57-minute INTRODUCTION to “Secrets of the Conscientious Choirmaster” completely free of charge by visiting https://ccwatershed.org/seminar/.