Thursday, March 30, 2017

General Observations on Singing

Some advice for choral singing from nearly two centuries ago, courtesy of The Sacred Harp. HT: Bass Tim Rhodes. I think you'll agree this is still quite valid today, even though we do not sing in Sacred Harp style.
Persons may be well acquainted with all the various characters in music; they may also be able to sing their part in true time, and yet their performance be far from pleasing; if it is devoid of necessary embellishments, their manner and bad expression may conspire to render it disagreeable. A few plain hints, and a few general and friendly observations, we hope, will tend to correct their errors in practising vocal music.
Care should be taken that all the parts (when singing together) begin upon the proper pitch. If the parts are not united by their corresponding degrees, the whole piece may be run into confusion and jargon before it ends.
It is by no means necessary, to constitute good singers, that they should sing very loud, and if the singers of any one are so loud that they cannot hear the other parts, because of their own noise, the parts are surely not rightly proportioned, and ought to be altered. How hard it is to make some believe soft singing is the most melodious; when, at the same time, loud singing is more like the hootings of the midnight bird than refined music. [1]
In applying the words, great care should be taken that they be properly pronounced, and not torn to pieces between the teeth, nor forced through the nose. [2]
The superiority of vocal to instrumental music is that while one only pleases the ear, the other informs the understanding.
Too long singing at a time injures the lungs. A cold or cough, all kind of spirituous liquors [3], violent exercise, too much bile on the stomach, long fasting, the veins overcharged with impure blood, &c., &c., are destructive to the voice of one who is much in the habit of singing. All excessive use of ardent spirits will speedily ruin the best voice.
There should not be any noise indulged in while singing (except the music), as it destroys the beauty of harmony, and renders the performance very difficult, and if it is designedly promoted, it is nothing less than a proof of disrespect in the singers to the exercise, to themselves who occasion it, and to the Author of our existence. [4]
All affectation [5] should be banished; for it is disgusting in the performance of sacred music, and contrary to that solemnity which should accompany an exercise so near akin to that which will, through all eternity, engage the attention of those who walk in climes of bliss.
If singers, when performing a piece of music, could be as much captivated with the words and sounds as the author of the music is when composing it, the foregoing directions would be almost useless. We should therefore endeavor to improve the talent given us, and try to sing with the spirit and with the understanding, making melody in our hearts to the Lord.
The Sacred Music Press takes pleasure in sharing these quaint admonitions, written 150 years ago, and this page may be reprinted. However all other material in [The Sacred Harp] is protected by copyright and it is both unseemly and quite illegal to reproduce it in any form whatsoever without written permission of the publisher. Blessed are they who respect the copyright laws and keep them, for they make publications such as this possible.
[1] I recall early in my choral singing career, a musically-minded friend of mine said, "I could really hear you!" It took me a while to realize that was not a compliment.
[2] Kathy only reminds us of this at every rehearsal warmup. 
[3] For Kathy's sake, I assume this does not include wine. 
[4] Also applicable when Jennifer, Nancy, or another organist is playing a prelude or postlude piece.
[5] Defined as "behavior, speech, or writing that is artificial and designed to impress." Kind of like this blog...?

Sunday, March 26, 2017

We Alleregretto Nothing!

HT: Scelata at Chant Cafe by way of Kathy, but the original author is lost to the anonymity of the Internet. Images added at no extra charge.

New Music Terms

ALLEREGRETTO: When you're 16 measures into the piece and suddenly realize you've set too fast a tempo

ANGUS DEI: To play with a divinely beefy tone

A PATELLA: Accompanied by knee slapping

APOLOGGIATURA: A composition that you regret playing

APPROXIMATURA: A series of notes not intended by the composer, yet played with an "I meant to do that" attitude

APPROXIMENTO: A musical entrance that is somewhere in the vicinity of the correct pitch

DILL PICCOLINI: An exceedingly small wind instrument that plays only sour notes

FERMANTRA: A note held over and over and over and over and . . .

FIDDLER CRABS: Grumpy string players

FLUTE FLIES: Those tiny insects that bother musicians on outdoor gigs

FRUGALHORN: A sensible and inexpensive brass instrument

GAUL BLATTER: A French horn player

GREGORIAN CHAMP: The title bestowed upon the monk who can hold a note the longest


SPRITZICATO: An indication to string instruments to produce a bright and bubbly sound

TEMPO TANTRUM: What an elementary school orchestra is having when it's not following the conductor

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Apr. 16: Easter Sunday

4 PM at the Cathedral.

Introit: Resurrexi

Kyrie, Gloria, Agnus DeiMissa Prima (Haller)

Sequence: Victimae paschali laudes

Vidi Aquam (following renewal of baptismal promises)

Offertory proper: Terra tremuit
Offertory hymn: Christ The Lord Is Risen Today (SMH)

Sanctus: Mass VIII

Communion: Pascha nostrumHaec Dies (Byrd)

Dismissal and blessing: Regina Coeli

Recessional: Alleluia! Alleluia! Hearts To Heaven (SMH)

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

In Memoriam: Helen Carrico


Last Tuesday, former RPC alto Patty Dickens informed Kathy her mother Helen was not likely to live past the next 48 hours. She passed from this world later that day. Helen was a longtime soprano for RPC; find out all the other things she did in her life in her obituary. We pray for Patty and her entire family, including her sister-in-law Renee who also sang with us.

Note that the family is asking for donations in Helen's name to the Reno Jazz Festival (coming up the end of next month) or the charity of your choice, in lieu of flowers. A celebration of Helen's life is scheduled for this Saturday, March 25 at the Carmelite Monastery at 10 AM, followed by a reception.

In Helen's memory, I post the hauntingly beautiful In paradisum from Maurice Durufle's Requiem, as I did for my father-in-law six years ago. Makes me tear up every. single. time.

In paradisum deducant te Angeli; in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres, et perducant te in civitatem sanctam Ierusalem. Chorus angelorum te suscipiat, et cum Lazaro quondam paupere æternam habeas requiem.
May the angels lead you into paradise; may the martyrs receive you at your arrival and lead you to the holy city Jerusalem. May choirs of angels receive you and with Lazarus, once (a) poor (man), may you have eternal rest.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Thu., Apr. 13: Holy Thursday

6:15 PM at Holy Spirit Mission. Disregard the March 24 date in the book Kathy gave out; that was Holy Thursday last year. Mantillas, ladies.

Introit: Nos autem (multiple verses)

KyrieGloria (mp3 only), SanctusAgnus Dei (miserere nobis last time): Mass IV

Gradual: Christus factus est

Antiphons for the Washing of the Feet:
  • Mandatum novum do vobis
  • Postquam surrexit Dominus
  • Dominus Jesus
  • Domine, tu mihi lavas pedes
  • Si ego Dominus
  • In hoc cognoscent omnes
  • Maneant in vobis
  • Ubi caritas
can all be found herestarting at around the 10:00 mark. This recording has Nos autem and Christus factus est as well.

Offertory Proper: Dextera Domini, Christus Factus Est (Anerio/Escuchar)

Communion: Dominus Jesus

Psalm 22 (Dominus regit)*
Psalm 71 (Deus, judicium)*
Psalm 103 (Benedic, anima mea)*
Psalm 150 (Laudate Dominum)*
* as needed

Transfer of the Blessed Sacrament: Pange lingua
Stripping of altar: Psalm 21 (Diviserunt sibi) (alternate verses between cantors and all)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Apr. 2: 5th Sunday in Lent

4 PM at the Cathedral. This is also Fr. Paul Fazio's birthday.

Introit: Judica me Deus (Note: no Gloria Patri is sung today)

KyrieSanctusAgnus Dei (no Gloria): Mass XVII

Credo III

Offertory: Confitebor, Ah Holy Jesus (SMH or Adoremus)

Communio: Videns Dominus, Adoramus Te (Palestrina)

Recessional: O Sacred Head Surrounded

Monday, March 13, 2017

St. Michael's Requests Donations for Flooding Victims

(Photo: Washoe County Government)

Last year, we sang at Mass for the first time ever at St. Michael's in Stead. Now, the church is at the forefront of assisting those affected by ongoing flooding in Lemmon Valley, which could persist for weeks as the snow melts. If you want to help, St. Michael's has a way to do so. From their website:
Flooding from a series of storms in this record water‐year has caused significant problems for many Lemmon Valley residents. The hardest hit areas are adjacent to or near Swan Lake, but other locations are affected as well. Some have lost access to their homes, have had furniture and belongings destroyed, and lost livestock. 
Recent statements from Washoe County officials suggest that the recovery process will be months‐long, and conditions may worsen as additional storms and runoff add to the levels of standing water. 
Fr. Thomas Babu and Saint Michael Parish would like to reach out to those in need. We ask parishioners and friends of Saint Michael Church for donations that will be used to assist the Lemmon Valley residents in need. 
If you can donate, please do so with a check to “Saint Michael Church” and state the purpose of the check as “Priest’s Charity – Lemmon Valley” in the “For” section. Drop it off at the Parish, or mail to:  
St. Michael Catholic Church, 14075 Mt. Vida, Reno, NV 89506 
Please call the Parish office at 775‐972‐7462 if you need more information. Thank you and God Bless!  
I'm thinking mailing a check might be the better option, as Washoe County authorities are limiting access into the area by non-residents. (ETA: Tenor Karl Riglesberger, a St. Michael's parishioner, says getting to the church is just fine; it's out of the affected area.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

More Changes at the Cathedral

Kathy sent the following email yesterday, and Deacon Richard Ramm confirmed it at this afternoon's Mass:
Dear choir family,
I wanted to let you know before you get surprised at Mass tomorrow evening that an announcement is going to be made that the Franciscans are going to be leaving Reno.  There will not be another order of priests coming in, so [St. Thomas Aquinas] cathedral will be run by diocesean priests.  This will be effective June of 2018. [emphasis added]
I will not pretend to know what this portends for Regina Pacis.  What I DO know is that every time I thought we were finished, something has happened and we have been fine, if not even better off.  We will continue to be fine.  It will likely mean some changes for us.  It is in God's hands, as are all things.
But it certainly underscores why we do not settle totally in one place. 
Be at peace.  All will be well.
Deacon Richard added the reason is insufficient numbers of friars to keep the Cathedral properly staffed. He says several friars are in seminary/formation (you can see some of them here), but they won't be ordained for several years. I hate to say it, but that's assuming they do not leave before ordination.

Speaking of the friars at the cathedral, please keep Fr. Tom Hamilton in your prayers, as he is getting eye surgery tomorrow. He has said a few of our Masses, and I suspect this is not his first eye procedure. Sandy and I had the pleasure of talking to him at one of the parish dinners; he has quite a good sense of humor.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Mar. 26: Laetare Sunday (4th Sunday of Lent)

4 PM at the Cathedral. Kathy promised she'll keep the music coming. This reminds me: Don't get rid of the manila envelope she gave you; you'll be using it to turn in your music at the end of the season.

Introit: Laetare

KyrieSanctusAgnus Dei (no Gloria): Mass XVII

Credo III

Offertory: Laudate Dominum, The King Of Love My Shepherd Is

Communio: Lutum fecitO Jesu Christe (Mantua)

Recessional: Hail, Redeemer, King Divine (SMH)

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Prayers Please

For Barbara Fanaris and Kristin Rosenqvist, for healing from their health problems.

For Patty Dickens' mother Helen, who is now on palliative care. Both Patty and Helen were RPC members.

And for the entire Reinheimer family. If you don't know the reason, I prefer not to disclose it here.

Meanwhile at the Vatican...

Pope Francis, while observing the 50th anniversary of the conciliar (and Vatican II) document Musicam sacram:
“Certainly,” said Pope Francis, “the encounter with modernity and the introduction of [vernacular] tongues into the Liturgy stirred up many problems: of musical languages, forms and genres.”
The Holy [F]ather went on to say, “Sometimes a certain mediocrity, superficiality and banality have prevailed, to the detriment of the beauty and intensity of liturgical celebrations.” 
The Pope encouraged the various actors in the field of liturgical music – from composers, conductors, musicians and choristers, to liturgical animators – to do their best to contribute to the renewal of sacred music and liturgical chant, especially as far as the quality of sacred music is concerned. [emphasis added]
We can only hope and pray this call will not be dismissed as so many other Church documents dealing with sacred music have been.

(Source, Vatican Radio, HT: Corpus Christi Watershed. Photo of the Sistine Chapel Choir from Vatican Radio also.)

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Brick By Brick

I attended Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Teresa of Avila in Carson City. The Sanctus and Agnus Dei were English chants from the Graduale Romanum, which we know as the Requiem Mass. This is a leaflet in the pew. Could we be singing at St. Teresa someday?

Sort of related: a high school classmate who has appeared on several network TV shows made the following observation on Facebook.