Ricardo Mutti on Church Music

From Catholic Culture:

The music director of the Chicago Symphony has thrown his support behind the drive by Pope Benedict XVI to revive the tradition of sacred music.

”The Pope is right when he says it is necessary to bring our great musical heritage back into churches,” said Ricardo Muti. The Italian conductor said that the revival in church music “cannot happen outside the great traditional path of the past, of Gregorian chants and sacred polyphonic choral music.”

Muti said that he has no objection to the composition of new sacred music, but resents the use of pop tunes. “When I go to church and I hear four strums of a guitar or choruses of senseless, insipid words, I think it’s an insult,” he said. Offering mediocre music, when the Church boasts a priceless treasury of compositions, shows “a lack of respect for people’s intelligence,” he said.

10 Replies to “Ricardo Mutti on Church Music”

  1. Bravo, Maestro! This message should be sent to every diocesan liturgy and music office in the country. : )

  2. Liberals insult peoples' intelligence every day because "they" know better. Bishop Trautman, is exhibit A for that proposition. The Maestro is dead on!

  3. This is, if I'm counting correctly, the 4th major mucial figure outside of the Church that has made essentially this same statement. I particularly liked the one from Ennio Morricone which was quite blunt in it's wording. There was also the very terse statement from James MacMillan. It seems that those who know music understand what is at stake.

  4. Pardon me for raining on the parade, but:
    Presumably Maestro Muti is Catholic. If not, his dog in this hunt is limited to the Church's general effect on Western Civilization. If so:
    Which parish does he attend when he is in Chicago?
    How much money has he given to that parish specifically for the music program?
    As we all know here, talk is cheap, and action is expensive.

  5. Dr Mahrt;

    Yes, I know that James MacMillan is Catholic… I meant there were at least 4 prominent conductor/ performers not directly connected to the church who have come out with similar statements about the dreadful state of Catholic music, and then there was ALSO the statement from James MacMillan. Sorry I didn't make that clear!

  6. "Which parish does he attend when he is in Chicago?
    How much money has he given to that parish specifically for the music program?"

    He also travels a lot, and I don't understand why one has to care about where he spends his money. It's also very possible he can do so annonymously. I'm grateful that he speaks up for sacred music, he didn't have to, especially if he wants to be 'loved' by everyone.

  7. What is discordant to my ear when a celebrated artist chimes into the public forum is defining where the nexus of that person’s credentials intersect with the issues and concerns that s/he weighs into. For example, if Sean Penn wants to join Brad Pitt directly in the rebuilding of devastated neighborhoods of NOLA, that’s one thing all should welcome. Penn hobnobbing with Hugo Chavez in Venezuela to expound on his own views about geo-politics is quite another thing.
    So, there is a distinction to be made between clarion calls made by MacMillan versus those by Muti. Muti’s interest in recovering the “ars” in celebrandi is laudible and welcome, but it should not be amplified as evidence of our cause’s certitude just because of his renown as a premiere conductor of symphonic, and primarily secular artistic orchestral works. His artistic realm maintains tendons with sacred art music in a manner and method well-described by Metropolitan Hilarion in his address at CUA (currently re-printed in the Spring issue of “Sacred Music.” But that doesn’t qualify Muti as a credible spokesperson taking up this cause célèbre. I am also troubled by both his oversimplification and diminution of his presumed experiences with worship accompanied by a four-chord capable guitarist, and that he characterizes such as a personal insult towards himself (presumably as well as others.) This sort of personal caricature reduces his complaint to one of taste; “I don’t like this. This is an insult to ME.” I say “Thank you, maestro. Perhaps you could find some time and a way to address your concerns to actual practitioners or students (at CUA, Ave Maria U., Christendom, etc.) in a more articulated way. Perhaps you could advance a vision wherein artists working in the secular environment could re-consider their goals towards composition inspired and intended for the choir and sanctuary.
    That’s why MacMillan, Tavener, Pärt carry a little more water for me in citing authorities who endorse the higher calling of sacral arts. But I don’t want to suggest we should obsess over looking at this “gift horse” in the mouth. Muti is an outstanding conductor.

  8. It is laudible that someone like Muti defend the sacred music, since many church musicians don't, and follow their own tasts and skills instead of the Church's teachings. Wouldn't it be better those musicians work outside the church, and work for themselves, instead misleading the people, if they refuse to be faithful to the Church's instructions?

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