Looking for a great Christmas CD?

This one from St. Vicent Camerata Scholars looks amazing.

The Saint Vincent Camerata Scholars have produced a CD of sacred choral music from the Renaissance that will be distributed internationally by Jade Music, a division of Milan Entertainment of Paris/Los Angeles that specializes in the production and distribution of sacred music. It is entitled, A Blessed Day Has Dawned, Sacred Choral Music: Palestrina, Laude, Gregorian Chant.

Fr. Stephen Concordia, O.S.B., the director of the Scholars, said that the Christmas-themed CD revolves around a Motet and Mass composed by famed Italian composer Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina (1525-1594). “In Palestrina’s very first published collection there appears the motet “Dies Sanctificatus” composed for Christmas Day. In his last published collection there is an entire Mass based on this motet. It’s likely that Palestrina was capitalizing on the popularity of his Motet”, Fr. Stephen explained. “This Mass is an example of a very common, and very popular form at that time, the “imitation Mass”, which uses melodies from a pre-existing composition as the basis of every movement. In Palestrina’s time composers were very careful that their music be perceived as subservient, and since this technique creates a kind of unity through the successive moments of the ritual, it achieves that,” Fr. Stephen continued.

The Palestrina Mass is at the center of the CD, but other styles are also present. “We wanted to fill in the other Mass parts in Gregorian chant: the Introit (entrance), the Alleluia, the Gospel of the day, and the Communion antiphon. This evokes what a Renaissance Mass might have sounded like, with some parts sung in polyphony, and others chanted.” Fr. Stephen said. Three “laude sprituali” from the Oratory of San Filippo Neri open the CD. “These are compositions by contemporaries and associates of Palestrina” Fr. Stephen explained. “These were written in a popular style for the informal gatherings of the Oratory, but they, like the Gregorian chant, harmonize well with Palestrina’s composition,” Fr. Stephen said.

The Camerata Scholars have performed the works on the CD previously at both the Saint Vincent Basilica and at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Pittsburgh. Two Saint Vincent College students, Brian T. Myers, a senior music major from Saint Mary’s (Elk County) and Julie M. Pomerleau, a senior psychology major from Jeannette – are members of the group. The music was recorded in the Saint Vincent Basilica in August by Joshua Guenther, a baritone singer in the group who also works as a sound engineer for WAOB Radio in Latrobe.