Thursday, March 7, 2013

Musica Sacra St. Louis

Angela Manney reports on the recent St. Louis conference:

February 21, 2013 marked two momentous moments in Saint Louis: an ice storm that shut down the city, and the Musica Sacra Saint Louis conference. In spite of the fierce weather, flight cancellations, and treacherous streets, about 30 conferenciers of all ages, priests and laymen, from as far as Michigan and Arkansas, made their way to the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis that weekend. The difficult traveling circumstances were rewarded by an enthusiastic faculty, and the breathtaking experience of singing within what is perhaps the most beautiful church in the entire nation.

During the weekend, conferenciers were treated to a rich diversity of workshops from faculty members Dr. Cecilia Nam, Dr. Horst Buchholz, Bruce Ludwick, Angela Manney, and Adam Wright. Topics included chant basics, chironomy, singing the funeral propers, chant and choral resources, vocal technique, and some good, down home singing of chant and polyphony. The information gathered and friendships formed well surpassed the $75 conference fee.

The highlight of the weekend was undoubtedly the archdiocesan Mass for the Chair of Saint Peter. As the strains of Statuit ei Dominus resonated in the great Cathedral, priests from across the archdiocese processed in an endless stream towards the altar. Indeed, there were as many priests as there were members of the congregation that afternoon. Communion was prayerfully administered as the schola sang Tu es Petrus from Richard Rice’s Communio with English verses, and full male voices carried the anthem Tu Es Petrus by Faure as the anthem of thanksgiving. When not singing, the schola was lifted in rapt meditation upon the immensity of the space, the hundreds of mosaics, and the homily delivered by Archbishop Carlson.

This particular feast, of course, became all the more significant with the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI just days away. Carlson reminded us of a homily by Pope Benedict XVI, delivered on the same feast in 2006: “To celebrate the Chair of Peter as we do today, means therefore, to attribute to it a strong spiritual significance, and to recognize in it a privileged sign of the love of God, our good and eternal Shepherd, who wants to gather the whole Church, and to guide her along the way of salvation.” He also quoted a sermon of Pope Saint Leo the Great: “The Church of Christ rises on the firm foundation of Peter’s faith, given to him by God the Father.”

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