Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Faculty Profile: Edward Schaefer

So many materials are online these days that it is easy to get the impression that the chant movement was born anew some five years ago. But you know how things actually work: there is no real new birth of an artistic/liturgical movement. Nothing comes into being out of nothing. These things grows slowly over time, from infancy to maturity, and this involves countless unnamed people plus a handful and heroes and heroines.

Edward Schaefer is one of those heroes. He has been running his own workshops since the 1980s. Even more strikingly, his work foreshadowed the forthcoming Missal. He wrote out an entire Missal in the ordinary form in English with the sung text, and got it approved for liturgical use. For all these year, it has been the only printed resource for the sung Mass in English! He did all of this pretty much working alone, and solely because as a musician and a Catholic he had a passion for the sung liturgy. Now, others have caught up to him and this is about to become the norm in our liturgical materials. But it took Schaefer to lead the way.

As a long-time professor at Gonzaga and now Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs, University of Florida College of Fine Arts, he is obviously a chant expert (having studied directly under Dom Cardine) also a legendary conductor of polyphony. Those who have sung under his leadership praise his leadership and musicianship. He is also a tremendously intelligent person with an obvious fire for the faith. He is also a pleasure to work with. His enthusiasm is palpable and he is deeply grateful for an opportunity to spread the word.

It's fun to be with him at the Sacred Music Colloquium because of his excitement over being there, which is obvious from his broad smile and light step. He has so much to teach, and I'm pleased report that this year, he will have his own polyphony choir that will sing the mighty Byrd Mass for Four Voices, and also teach a long series on semiology - coursework that even faculty members are looking forward to.

I should add that he is also the author of Catholic Music Through the Ages, which is on my reading list and probably should be on yours. We are all tremendously honored that such a scholar and gentlemen will be joining us this year.