The first time I met David Hughes was at the Sacred Music Colloquium and he was fresh out of college and totally dedicated to music in general and sacred music in particular. In the years that have followed, he has emerged as a giant in this world. As head of music at St. Mary’s, Norwalk, he is setting a standard for excellence in liturgical art, with a program that is broad and deep. He directs a large childrens’ choir, a professional choir, an adult choir, and plays the organ at most all Masses. Just to look at the weekly lineup takes one’s breath away.
It was my great pleasure to join him for dinner last night in New York, and it is just a joy to hear his comments on every aspect of music and liturgy, and the life of Church musician. He has a striking humility given his explosive talent. His knowledge expands way beyond music to encompass history, philosophy, and theology. His is very widely read and constantly curious. He also takes his Catholic faith very seriously.
Last night, he talked at length about some early Mass from the 13th and 14th centuries that I had never heard of but he has actually used in liturgy in his parish. He describes what it is like to sing at 5-minute Amen in the Gloria and the effect of such an elaborate thing in a regular parish program (fantastic success!). He describes what it is like to explore all the new chants each week with singers who had never sung chant before a year ago, and how much all his volunteers treasure their copies of the Gregorian Missal. He is particularly eloquent in describing the effects of the chant on the lives and outlooks of the children in his choirs.
He has really been the driving force behind an incredible program, a parish that serves as living proof of the extraordinary things that can happen anywhere with the right leadership and the right ideals. The CMAA is honor to have him as a chant conductor at the Sacred Music Colloquium.