Saint Vincent College, new Sacred Music program

Beginning in the Fall of 2013, Saint Vincent College’s Music Department will offer new programs in Sacred Music leading to the following degrees: (1) Music Performance Major – Concentration in Sacred Music, (2) Music Major – Concentration in Sacred Music, and (3) Music Minor – Concentration in Sacred Music. The programs aim to reflect the Catholic, Benedictine identity of the College by focusing on the musical traditions of the Catholic Church, studied and practiced in a Benedictine environment that accentuates Community, Stewardship and Service. Distinguishing features of the Course are its options for Primary Instrument Study (Organ, Gregorian Chant, Sacred Composition) and its Supervised Practicum (8 semesters) designed to provide for the technical, liturgical, pastoral, and spiritual formation of a Church musician. Two choral ensembles specializing in sacred music support these programs: the Saint Vincent Camerata, a 45 member mixed chorus that performs choral/orchestral repertoire, and the Camerata Scholars, an a cappella choir with a focus on the Renaissance repertoire. In March 2014, the Saint Vincent Basilica will receive its new pipe organ constructed by the renowned John-Paul Buzard Pipe Organ Builders of Champaign, IL.

For further information contact Fr. Stephen Concordia, O.S.B., Director of the Programs in Sacred Music.
Fr. Stephen Concordia, O.S.B.
Director of Programs in Sacred Music
Music Department
Saint Vincent College
300 Fraser Purchase Road
Latrobe, PA 15650

Gerald Phillips, RIP

J. Gerald Phillips, a devoted member of the CMAA for many years, passed away peacefully on Monday night in Leominster, MA, surrounded by his family and friends. He was composer of Catholic liturgical music, organist, director and teacher, whose career spanned almost six decades.

Perhaps he is best known for being the composer of the first English setting of the Mass after Vatican II (Mass in the Vernacular), commissioned by the National Liturgical Conference in 1964, which was used widely throughout the US, selling almost two million copies. However, he continued composing sacred music (most recently being published by World Library Publications) until this past year.

He handed on to all who studied and worked with him, a love and knowledge of the great tradition of Catholic sacred music, especially Gregorian Chant and Renaissance polyphony.

J. Gerald Phillips, 85, composer, organist, choir director and teacher, passed away peacefully on Monday evening, August 19, surrounded by his loving family and friends at Leominster Hospital.

He is preceded in death by his beloved wife of 24 years, Ellen (Rock) Phillips, who died in 1982; and their son, Joseph G. Phillips, Jr., who died in 2006. He is survived by three children; William J. Phillips of Jaffrey, NH; Rachel Sherman Phillips of Atherton, CA; and Anna Rock Phillips and her husband Anthony Wilcox of Fitchburg; his sister, Elizabeth Brown and her husband Ben of Bend, OR; 5 grandchildren, Christopher J. Phillips, Geoffrey W. Phillips, Nicholas W. Phillips, Sarah K. Phillips, Myles R. Phillips-Wilcox; several nieces & nephews, numerous colleagues and many dear friends. He is pre-deceased by his brother, William Phillips.

Mr. Phillips had a long, intense and fruitful career in which he touched countless lives through his music, as well as through his goodness, faith, kindness and untiring sense of humor. Born in Waterbury, CT in 1927, he was a 1945 graduate of Crosby High School. After serving in the US Navy (1945-1947) he pursued studies at the University of Connecticut, the University of Montreal (Bachelor in Church Music, 1953) and the University of Chicago (M.A. in Composition and Music History, 1954.) He then did post-graduate work at l’Institut Gregorien de Paris and the Sorbonne (1955-1956.) During these years of studies he also worked during the summers with the renowned Trapp Family Singers at their music camp in Stowe, Vermont.

He has been the composer of a wealth of sacred music, including three settings of the Latin Mass in the 1950’s and the very first English setting of the Mass in 1965. This Mass in the Vernacular, first sung at St. Mary’s Church in Shrewbury, MA and then at the National Liturgical Conference in St. Louis, MO (for which it was commissioned,) was subsequently sung widely – with almost two million copies sold -throughout the U.S. This work was followed by three other English Mass settings, as well as a steady output of hymns, anthems and acclamations, and secular works for piano and voice, continuing up to this past year.

During the 1960’s, he worked with Theodore Marier as assistant editor of McLaughlin and Reilly Co. in Boston, publishing many great works of Chant and Sacred Polyphony from the Catholic tradition.

Over the past fifty-nine years, Mr. Phillips has been organist and music director at a number of Catholic parishes throughout New England, beginning with Sacred Heart Church in Roslindale, MA, and most recently at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Winchendon, MA. He was also organist from 1968-1975 at the First Unitarian Church of Worcester. In collaboration with St. Paul’s Cathedral, he founded and directed St. Peter’s Choir School in Worcester, MA (1966-1971.) He was co-founder (1979,) music teacher and choir director at Trivium School in Lancaster, MA until 2008, and then continued as tutor emeritus until this past year.

Mr. Phillips was Music Lecturer at Clark University from 1966-1976, Music Instructor in the Worcester Public Schools from 1971-1977, and Professor of Music and Choral Director at Thomas More College in Merrimack, NH from 1981-1990. He has been a Private Instructor of Piano, Organ and Music Theory, the author of numerous articles on Liturgical Music, and a piano and organ tuner. He was an avid amateur gardener, arborist and meteorologist. Wake will be held at Philbin-Comeau Funeral Home, 176 Water Street, Clinton, MA on this Friday, August 23, 5-8pm. Funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. John the Evangelist Church, 80 Union Street, Clinton, on Saturday, August 24 at 10am. Present and former members of Mr. Phillips’ choirs, and the Trivium Chorus, are encouraged to arrive in the choir loft at 9am for a short rehearsal before the beginning of the funeral.

In lieu of flowers, a memorial gift may be made to Trivium School, 471 Langen Road, Lancaster, MA 01523, St. Benedict’s Abbey, 264 Still River Road, Still River, MA 01467 or the Woodlawn Foundation, 56 Harrison St., Ste. 401, New Rochelle, NY 10801-6560.

The Low Churchman’s Guide to Palestrina

A hilarious bit that explains Palestrina to a low-church Anglican:

Of all the composers whose works are performed by surpliced choirs, Giovanni Battista de’ Palestrina is perhaps the most degenerate. In the whole catalogue of his works is not a single memorable tune; instead, a typical composition by Palestrina features four or more vocal parts attempting to outdo each other in the aimlessness of their polyphonic meandering. Not even one of Palestrina’s works is written in the common speech of England; all are written either in the Latin tongue or in a language called Italian. In its excess of depravity, the music of Palestrina attracted the attention of the Bishop of Rome himself, who named the young composer as his chapel musician.

Shocking as it may seem, this enemy of English values is a favourite composer among Ritualist church musicians, for whom listening to the dismal moaning of a Latin “motet” is thought to be the height of aesthetic experience. A favourite composition is the Missa Papae Marcelli, whose text (written by Palestrina himself) congratulates the newly-elected Pope Marcellus IV on the purchase of a new diamond-encrusted chasuble. Other works often heard are the battle hymn Sicut cervus, which prays to St Januarius to send a plague of rickets upon all loyal churchmen, and the interminable Stabat mater, which expresses the deep sorrow of the Virgin Mary at the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.

It is believed that Palestrina is now dead, although agents attempting to enter the Vatican to verify these reports have been captured or killed.

Kenneth Levy, RIP

From Ted Krasnicki:

I received word that the influential chant scholar emeritus of Princeton, Kenneth Levy, author of various articles and books on chant, died on Friday. A well known but controversial theory of his was the claim that musical notation for the Franks already existed by the year 800. A chant archive is named after him. Requiescat in pace.