The Renewal of Sacred Music and the Liturgy in the Catholic Church: Movements Old and New

The CMAA is thrilled to announce the call for participation for a conference celebrating the legacy of Msgr. Richard Schuler and the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale in St. Paul, Minnesota. 

As many of you know, the longtime pastor of St. Agnes Church in St. Paul, Msgr. Richard Schuler, was the vice president of the CMAA for 10 years, and also served as the editor of the Association’s journal, Sacred Music, for many years.  He left an immense legacy at St. Agnes, in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, and far beyond, not only as a church musician of the highest order, but also as a wise pastor.  Indeed, Bishop Sample (of whom there was news earlier today) is just one of the vocations to have come out of St. Agnes under Msgr. Schuler’s tutelage.  For the past 40 years, the choir he founded and directed (the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale) has been singing orchestral Masses every Sunday during season at St. Agnes church in St. Paul.  This conference will celebrate the 40th season of the TCCC’s residency at St. Agnes. 

This conference promises to be a truly wonderful event for anyone who is interested in the Church’s sacred music and liturgy. 

We’ve just posted the call for participation at the conference website, and post it here as well for all those scholars and musicians interested in submtting a proposal, as well as a taste of what the conference will offer. 

Mark your calendars!  October 13-15, 2013 at St. Agnes and the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota!

The Renewal of Sacred Music and the Liturgy in the Catholic Church: Movements Old and New
October 13–15, 2013

TheChurch Music Association of America
in collaboration with
the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, theChurch of St. Agnes,
theCathedral of St. Paul, and the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

The Church Music Association of America will hold a conference exploring renewal movements within the Church’s liturgy and sacred music on October 13–15, 2013, at the Church of St. Agnes and Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, Minnesota.  The conference marks the 40thanniversary of the residence of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, founded by Msgr. Richard J. Schuler, at the Church of St. Agnes in St. Paul.  The conference seeks to explore, through critical analysis, former and present efforts to revive the Church’s sacred liturgy and music, particularly as exemplified by Msgr. Schuler’s work.  Questions central to the conference theme include:
Ÿ  Which efforts have resulted in a true restoration of the Church’s liturgy and sacred music? 

Ÿ  Upon which principles has authentic liturgical and musical renewal operated in the past?

Ÿ  Which reform actions have had deleterious effects on sacred music and the liturgy?

While the conference will focus on sacred music, other aspects of liturgy (theology, history, architecture, documents, etc.) will also be considered for inclusion in the proceedings.  

The conference will include solemn celebrations of vespers (featuring Mozart’s Vesperae Solennes de Confessore) and Missae Cantatae at the Cathedral of St. Paul and Church of St. Agnes, featuring an orchestral Mass, classical works for organ, and a modern polyphonic setting of the Mass ordinary. Dr. William Mahrt (Stanford) will deliver a keynote address, and other featured speakers include Fr. Guy Nichols (Blessed John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music) and Jeffrey Tucker (The Wanderer and Sacred Music).

The conference committee welcomes proposals for papers and recital programs related to the conference theme. 

The deadline for proposals is March 22, 2013.  Notification of acceptance will be given by April 8, 2013.

Proposals must be submitted via email to Jennifer Donelson at

For paper proposals (30 minutes plus 5 minutes for questions), please send an email including:

1.      Title and abstract (250-word maximum)
2.      Your name and affiliation
3.      Your phone number and email address
4.      Bio (250-word maximum)

For recital proposals (25 or 50 minutes in length), please send an e-mail including:

1.      Selections to be included on the program (including title, composer, and length of each selection)
2.      A 100-word abstract (for lecture recitals only)
3.      Your name and affiliation, as well as the name and affiliation of each performer/ensemble
4.      Your phone number and email address
5.      Your bio (250-word maximum)
6.      A brief bio of each performer/ensemble included in the recital program (100-word maximum)
7.      One or two recordings in mp3 format which demonstrate a recent performance.  The selections need not be recordings of the pieces proposed for the conference recital program.  File size limit: 10 MB.
8.      Performance space requirements (instrumentation, configuration, need for music stands and chairs, etc.)

Paper topics arising from the theme and guiding questions include, but are not limited to:

Ÿ  The renewal of chant and chant praxis through the work of St. Peter’s Abbey in Solesmes
Ÿ  The Cecilian movement
Ÿ  The Liturgical Movement and related figures and places (St. Pius X, Pius XII, Maria Laach Abbey, Romano Guardini, Dom Prosper Guéranger, Pius Parsch, Dom Lambert Beauduin, Louis Bouyer, Reynold Henry Hillenbrand, Adrian Fortescue, etc.)
Ÿ  The work and ideas of Msgr. Richard J. Schuler
Ÿ  Renewed interest in Viennese orchestral Masses in the 20th century, particularly in light of the work of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale
Ÿ  Historical accounts of the efforts and ideas of the Church Music Association of America
Ÿ  The impact on sacred music or liturgy of the 1903 motu proprio Tra le sollecitudini or the 2007 motu proprio Summorum Pontificum
Ÿ  The effects of Church councils on sacred music and the liturgy (Trent, Vatican II, etc.)
Ÿ  Trends in sacred music or liturgy during a particular pontificate
Ÿ  The new English translation of the 3rd Typical Edition of the Roman Missal
Ÿ  The Counter-Reformation, especially the work of the Jesuits in Europe and the New World, the work of the Oratorians, or the work of artists in the court of Phillip II
Ÿ  The Abbey of Cluny
Ÿ  Unsuccessful reforms, such as the Quignonez breviary or Urban VIII’s hymn texts
Ÿ  “Success” stories in contemporary or historical parishes, monasteries, etc., or current resources available for use by priests and parishes
Ÿ  The Catholic architecture of the Twin Cities or other American cities (e.g. Masqueray, Ralph Adams Cram, Edward Schulte, Bertram Goodhue, George J. Ries, Barry Byrne)
Ÿ  Catholic architecture in response to renewal movements or Church legislation

Recital programs arising from the theme include, but are not limited to:

Ÿ  Concerts of choral or organ works which trace a particular line of liturgical renewal
Ÿ  New compositions which demonstrate a clear connection to the Church’s treasury of sacred music and which are eminently liturgical in their outlook and use
Ÿ  A program of a composer with connections to a particular renewal movement (e.g. Bruckner, Rheinberger, etc.)
Ÿ  Programs honoring the musical tradition of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale, especially Viennese orchestral Masses, Gregorian chant, or choir/orchestra works for the Divine Office
Ÿ  Lecture recitals

Papers will be 30 minutes in length followed by a five-minute period for questions. 

Recital programs may be either 25 or 50 minutes in length.  Performances will take place at either the Cathedral of St. Paul, or at the Church of St. Agnes.  If submitting a recital program for compositions other than those for organ, recitalists must provide all performing personnel (e.g. choir, string ensemble, etc.), though assistance will be given by the conference organizers in contacting local orchestral musicians.  The presenter is responsible for the costs of hiring such personnel, who would be remunerated at the scale of the Twin Cities Musicians Union.  No piano or sound amplification will be available for the recitals, except for a microphone for the presenter speaking during the recital if requested.  Requests for specific orchestral instruments which would otherwise be difficult to transport to the conference (timpani, chimes, etc.) may be made as part of the proposal process.  The organ at the Cathedral of St. Paul is currently undergoing a restoration project which will be completed by the time of the conference.  Details and specifications are available at

The official language of the conference is English.

Presenters must register for the conference ($150) and will be responsible for their own expenses.

Questions regarding the conference may be directed to Jennifer Donelson via email or phone:

          (954) 262-7610

The conference website is available at; registration and hotel information will follow shortly.

Musica Sacra Florida – Registration Deadline this Friday!

This year’s Musica Sacra Florida Gregorian Chant Conference promises to be a wonderful event, with a fantastic line-up of speakers and faculty.

Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth (ICEL) – keynote speaker

Faculty include: Dr. Edward Schaefer, Dr. Susan Treacy, Mary Jane Ballou, Jeffrey Herbert, Dr. Jennifer Donelson, and Arlene Oost-Zinner

Workshops in:

           Singing Gregorian Chant in English
           Incorporating Gregorian Chant into Parish Life
           Instruction for Priests and Deacons in Chanting the Mass in the New English Translation
           Church Documents & Sacred Music in the 20th and 21st Century

Choice of scholae for:

           Beginning/intermediate (men & women),
           Upper-level men,& upper-level women

Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Friday evening with music provided by the AMU Music Department

Closing English sung Mass in the Ordinary Form on Saturday evening, celebrated by Most Rev. Frank Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, with music provided by conference participants.

Why not take a winter Lenten retreat to Florida to study chant?  Carpools from major airports (FLL and MIA) can be arranged.

Visit the conference website to sign up:

Musica Sacra Florida 2013 Gregorian Chant Conference

The time is drawing near for the 5th annual Musica Sacra Florida Gregorian Chant Conference.  This year’s conference promises to be wonderful and features Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth (ICEL), Mass with Bishop Dewane, scholae for singers of all levels, Masses in both the ordinary and extraordinary form of the Roman rite, and fantastic workshops from the fabulous faculty line-up. 

Conference dates: Friday, Feb. 15th – Saturday, Feb. 16th

The registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 1st. 

Why not take a break from winter at the beginning of Lent to have a retreat studying chant in sunny Florida? 

Details follow below and at the conference website. 

Musica Sacra Florida – 5th Annual Gregorian Chant Conference

Sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Church Music Association of America

in conjunction with Ave Maria University

Friday, February 15th– Saturday, February 16th

Ave Maria University, Ave Maria Florida

The Conference Will Include

Workshops in:

          Singing Gregorian Chant in English
          Incorporating Gregorian Chant into Parish Life
          Instruction for Priests and Deacons in Chanting the Mass in the New English Translation
          Church Documents & Sacred Music in the 20th and 21st Century

Choice of scholae for:

          Beginning/intermediate (men & women),
          Upper-level men,& upper-level women

Solemn High Mass in the Extraordinary Form on Friday evening with music provided by the AMU Music Department

Closing English sung Mass in the Ordinary Form on Saturday evening, celebrated by Most Rev. Frank Dewane, Bishop of the Diocese of Venice in Florida, with music provided by conference participants.


Advance registration online is required:

Registration fees are $60.00 (including materials and instruction), $15.00 for students with ID

Overnight accommodations will be available at AMU’s Xavier Conference Center.  Participants can choose among various options for room and board.  For prices and options, click on “Brochure and tentative schedule” at the conference website.

Registration deadline: Friday, February 1st, 2013

For more information on the conference, contact Susan Treacy, Ph.D., at: | (239) 280-1668 |

Conference Faculty:

          Keynote Speaker: Monsignor Andrew Wadsworth, Executive Director of ICEL (International Commission on English in the Liturgy)
          Mary Jane Ballou – Cantorae Saint Augustine
          Jennifer Donelson, D.M.A. – Nova Southeastern University
          Jeffrey Herbert, M.Mus. – Music Director, Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church, Sarasota
          Timothy McDonnell, D.M.A. – Ave Maria University
          Edward Schaefer, D.M.A. – University of Florida
          Susan Treacy, Ph,D. – Ave Maria University

About the Conference:

This two-day workshop will present beginning, intermediate, and advanced musicians with rehearsals and lectures that will enrich their knowledge of Gregorian chant and its use in the Roman Catholic liturgy.

Led by a faculty of chant specialists from around the state, attendees will learn more about the history of Gregorian chant and its role in the liturgy, as well as experience the chant in the context of both the Divine Office and the Mass. Beginning chanters will be introduced to the basics of notation and rhythm according to the classic Solesmes method.

Experienced chanters will learn new repertoire and advance their understanding of rhythmic and interpretive nuance. Resources and practical methods for the cultivation of Gregorian chant in the life of the parish will also be discussed, especially in light of the new missal. This year there will once again be a special emphasis on Gregorian chant in English, along with Latin chant.

This workshop is ideal for choir members, parish music directors, music students, teachers, parents, seminarians, priests, deacons, and anyone who is interested in learning about the heritage of sacred music within the Roman Catholic Church. 

Submissions to Sacred Music Invited

As the longest continuously published journal on music in North America, Sacred Musichas an impressive legacy.  We’ve published myriad articles from outstanding scholars in our field, had a remarkable line of editors, and served as an important resource for parish musicians and scholars of liturgical music alike.

In order to continue this legacy, we invite submissions for publication, especially in the following areas:

          Sacred music repertory

o   Analysis of little-known works

o   Analysis of works in the “canon”

o   New insights into well-known works

o   The liturgical significance of a work(s)

          Articles of a historical nature

o   Documentation of liturgical trends/reforms

o   Original scholarship

o   Composers or compositions of significance


o   Insightful commentary about current trends

o   Analysis of the implementation of legislation of sacred music or liturgy


o   Book reviews

o   Hymnal reviews

o   Sacred music resource reviews

o   New music reviews

          Pedagogical essays

o   Choral, rehearsal, or vocal pedagogy

o   Helpful suggestions for parish directors of music


o   Contemporary composers of note

o   Clergy or leaders who are concerned with sacred music and liturgy


o   Reports from conferences, concerts, or liturgies


Submissions may be sent to and should be submitted as a Word document, single-spaced, with 12-point Times New Roman font and embedded footnotes (no bibliography, please).  If images are included, they should be unencumbered by copyright (it is the responsibility of the author to secure reprint privileges in the case of copyrighted images) and at a resolution of 300 DPI or higher.  In general, the Chicago Manual of Style is followed, but with a few minor adaptations.  The complete style sheet and other helpful information may be found on the journal’s website at 

If you are interested in becoming a contributor and helping Sacred Music continue its proud heritage, we look forward to hearing from you!


Tournemire Conference at Duquesne – Wrap Up

From Heavens to Hands: A Student’s Perspective on the Music of Charles Tournemire

Report from “The Aesthetics and Pedagogy of Charles Tournemire: Chant andImprovisation in the Liturgy,” October 22–24, 2012, Sponsored by the Church Music Association of America, the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, and Duquesne University

By Becky Yoder and Stephanie Sloan


Charles Tournemire and his music must be summarized with none other than the word genius. Pious metaphysician, organist-theologian, and musical preacher, Tournemire’s consistently incorporated Gregorian chant libretto in his improvisations and sacred music performed mnemonic exegesis of the Roman Mass. His mystical organ style directly shaped the works of Olivier Messiaen, Ermend-Bonnal, Joseph Bonnet, Jean-Yves Daniel-Lesur, Jehan Alain, Maurice Duruflé, and Jean Langlais. Within a sacred music context, his music should be studied as a spiritually enriching experience motivating greater musical competence and meditation. This conference on one of the seminal yet recondite influences of twentieth century organ music sought to explore and promulgate the ethereal dimensions that so inspired this brilliant musician.

Charles Tournemire, born January 22, 1870, in Bordeaux, France, commenced piano and harmony studies at the Paris Conservatoire in 1886. In 1889, he became a pupil of César Franck at the Conservatoire, studying organ, counterpoint, and composition. Upon the death of Franck in 1890, Tournemire continued his organ studies under Charles-Marie Widor. After winning a first prize in organ and improvisation in 1892, Tournemire took up Franck’s former position as organist of Ste. Clotilde in 1898. He held this position until his death in 1939. In 1919, Tournemire was appointed professor of an ensemble class at the Paris Conservatoire with the expectation that he would eventually succeed Eugène Gigout as the professor of organ. However, when the decisive time was at hand, this position was instead granted to one of his greatest rivals, Marcel Dupré, in 1926. After this great disappointment and with the encouragement of Joseph Bonnet, Tournemire channeled his creative energy towards the composition of L’Orgue Mystique from 1927 to 1932. This great work for organ encompasses fifty-one offices for the entire liturgical year based on the proper chants of each liturgy. Every office, excluding the one for Holy Saturday, consists of five movements: Prélude à L’Introït, Offertoire, Élévation, Communion, and Pièce Terminale. Tournemire did not write L’Orgue Mystique for a particular organ, such as St. Clotilde, but rather for a non-existent organ of his imagination.[i] In addition to works for organ, Tournemire’s compositional output includes chamber music, symphonies, operas, piano works, and vocal works. However, Tournemire was most renowned as a great liturgical improviser during his lifetime. In 1930, he recorded the Cinq Choral Improvisationsat St. Clotilde, which Maurice Duruflé later transcribed after Tournemire’s death. These recordings are a testimony to the improvisatory genius of Charles Tournemire. The circumstances concerning his death are mysterious and not factually known. Tournemire was declared to have been dead for approximately twenty-four hours when his body was found on November 4, 1939.[ii] He was buried without a funeral on November 5 of the same year.

The events that took place during the first half of this conference focused on the aesthetics of Charles Tournemire’s music. The conference opened with a Duquesne University alumni recital consisting of works by Tournemire, Langlais, and Duruflé in addition to a piece by Robert Luft inspired by Tournemire and Langlais’ works. Luft’s piece, in particular, was entitled St. Ann Suite, based on the name Ann Labounsky. The recital was followed by an evening Compline Service given at the same venue, Heinz Memorial Chapel. Rev. John Cannon, III’s performance of Ave maris stella from Tournemire’s Cinq Improvisations introduced conference attendees to the plethora of Gregorian chant themes that are immediately recognizable in much of Tournemire’s music. Gregorian chant melodies provided the basis from which Tournemire, as a French Roman Catholic organist, improviser, and composer, drew most of his mystical, musical inspiration.

Duquesne University Alumni Recital

Tournemire is best known in the organ world today for his great L’Orgue Mystique and for the recording that produced his popular Cinq Choral Improvisations, which both heavily reflect his inspiration from Gregorian chant. Ron Prowse, Associate Professor and Director of Music at Sacred Heart Major Seminary of Detroit ,and Adjunct Faculty at Wayne State University, presented the conference’s first lecture on the subject of Tournemire’s improvisations, titled The Art of Improvisation and L’Orgue Mystique.”

Ron Prowse

Prowse first compared the three chant-based improvisational schools of Franck, Tournemire, Langlais, and Hakim; Lemmens, Widor, and Dupré; and Flor Peeters. Charles Tournemire used modality for his harmonic basis, Marcel Dupré leaned more towards tonality, and Flor Peeters modeled his compositions in a Bach-Baroque style. Prowse then compared the musical influences in Tournemire’s “Ave Maris Stella” postlude from L’Orgue Mystique Office No. 2 to Tournemire’s recorded improvisation Ave Maris Stella. For example, it is fascinatingly evident in Tournemire’s improvisations where sheer physical humanness affected the performance. A “restless rhetorical drama” denotes the rush of adrenaline. Extreme tempi, dynamic changes, and intense climactic moments reflected his psychological temperament. Ostinatos in harmonically static passages even suggested Tournemire “treading water,” pondering his next idea. In contrast, the postlude from L’Orgue Mystique has a “calm sense of purpose and organization,” subtler contrasts, subtler climactic surges, and no sense of “treading water”—every note has a crucial role. Prowse’s lecture revealed two practical and crucial forces acting on an organist’s improvisational prowess: training and humanness. The emphasis of training was exemplified in Dr. Crista Miller’s excellent organ recital, which featured works by the successor to the Franck-Tournemire-Langlais legacy, Naji Hakim. Hakim embellished the techniques he learned from his musical heritage with personal cultural influences, such as Arabic maqamat, characteristics of Lebanese instruments, and Maronite chant.

Crista Miller

Further into the conference, concert organist Richard Spotts demonstrated Tournemire’s use of chant in the liturgy with a performance of various movements from L’Orgue Mystique at the Pittsburgh Chapter of the American Guild of Organists’ October meeting. At the Church of the Epiphany, with its ample acoustics, each movement was introduced with its corresponding Gregorian chant melody, sung by the Duquesne University Schola Cantorum Gregorianum under the direction of Sr. Marie Agatha Ozah, HHCJ. The schola also sang chant for the liturgy of the noon Chapel Mass at Duquesne University. During this liturgy, Adjunct Professor of Music, Benjamin Cornelius-Bates from Duquesne University, improvised in the classic French tradition for the prelude, offertory, and postlude.

Sr. Marie Agatha Ozah and Some Members of Her Schola
Richard Spotts Recital

A lecture titled “‘Whose Music Is It, Anyway?’ Perceptions of Authenticity in the Tournemire-Duruflé Five Improvisations” was given by Kirsten Rutschman, ­­­a James B. Duke doctoral Fellow studying at Duke University. Rutschman discussed discrepancies in Duruflé’s transcription of Tournemire’s Cinq Choral Improvisations as revealed from modern digital dissection of the original 78rpm record discs and how the discrepancies affect performances today. Most notably, the question of authenticity arises for a present-day performer over whether to defer to Duruflé’s transcription or Tournemire’s recording when a discrepancy arises. Myriad differences have been found concerning correct rhythm, pitch accuracy, and registration usage between the remastered audio recording and Duruflé’s notation of Ave Maris Stella. There is even a possible additional measure existing that Duruflé omitted!

Kirsten Rutschmann

In order to make a decision about authenticity, one must consider both the qualities of improvisation and notation. Firstly, Tournemire never intended his impromptu improvisations to be transcribed; L’Orgue Mystique was his gift to posterity. Secondly, the acts of transcription and improvisation are virtually incompatible. Improvisation utilizes the creativeright side of the brain, generally lacking the purity and formal coherence of a written work. Written compositions use the other encephalic door, the logical left brain, and therefore all performers of a notated improvisation must go through it. The performer has thusly, from the very start, placed him or herself outside of the context of Tournemire’s improvisations. Recording technology has opened up a whole new world of questions over composer’s intent and whether or not recordings diminish or enhance the creative potential and purpose of a composition outside of its context. Duruflé would say that one never plays the same piece (or improvisation) the same way twice. Mickey Thomas Terry, Ph. D., Director of Music and Organist of St. Mary’s Church at Piscataway, subsequently played two selections from Tournemire’s Cinq Choral Improvisations, Ave maris stellaand Victimae paschali, from memory with lively tempos, based upon Duruflé’s transcription. Rev. John Cannon, III’s interpretation of Ave maris stella, which he played at the Sunday night Compline service at Heinz Memorial Chapel, was a slower performance with a masterful incorporation of the beautiful colors available on the chapel’s three-manual Reuter organ. These differences veritably illustrate the interpretive discretions of the individual performer.

Mickey Thomas Terry

A double feature consisting of a lecture and recital demonstrating the improvisational style of Charles Tournemire was presented by Dr. Bogusław Raba, organist of Wrocław University Church and Professor at the Institute of History of Silesian Music in Poland. “Existential Act of Creative Freedom; or Striving for Organic Masterpiece. Charles Tournemire’s Improvisations and Written Works: A Comparative Existential and Transcendental Analysis” examined improvisation as either an imitation of a written work or an independent act of pure inspiration. In his analysis, Raba contrasted Tournemire’s chant-inspired improvisations to some of the last offices and postludes in L’Orgue Mystique. Raba argued, as Rutschman and Prowse alluded to, that improvisation and written works cannot be equally compared because they draw from “different teleological sources.” Chant in Tournemire’s improvisations is used as a source for short motivic material, simply from the standpoint that human memory can retain only so much information. Conversely, chant in Tournemire’s written works appears in longer phrase quotations. Improvisational dynamics in the style of Tournemire rely on being in the moment and often contain declamatory blasts of extreme contrast, whereas his compositional dynamics possess the finesse of subtlety and purpose. Interestingly, Tournemire’s improvisational and written formal structures were similar: they followed “microformal syntactical order, theme exposition, commentary, then motivic variants derived from theme and development.”  Such basic triple order occurs in a more complex form in his written works, but the structural foundation between his compositions and improvisations is the same. Following his lecture, Raba very successfully demonstrated both Tournemire’s improvisational technique (derived from his Five Improvisations) and his compositional style (derived from Pieces terminales ­from L’Orgue Mystique) using Polish liturgical chant. The first theme was Bogurodzica (the Mother of God), the oldest Polish hymn. Composed somewhere between the tenth and thirteenth centuries, it was sung as an anthem before battles and also accompanied the coronation ceremonies of the first Jagiellonian kings. The second theme was “Carmen patrium” (the hymn of the Motherland). Raba successfully put into practice his academic analyses of the aesthetics of Tournemire’s music.

Ann Labounsky moderates questions after the paper and recital by Boguslaw Raba

The last lecture dealing with the aesthetics of Tournemire’s music was presented by Vincent Rone, a Ph. D. student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Master’s graduate of Duquesne University. How Tournemire’s mystical legacy can be found in the music of Jean Langlais and Maurice Duruflé in an examination of their reaction to the liturgical repercussions of Vatican II was examined in “­­­La Musique Mystique et Vatican II: Charles Tournemire’s Legacy as Post-Conciliar Correctives in the Music of Maurice Duruflé and Jean Langlais.” Mysticism is the primary objective of “theocentric liturgical music.” the ability to elevate the congregation into heavenly stasis and transcend worship into timelessness. Harmonic symmetry is one measurable musical characteristic that evokes mystical expression. Sonorities produced by the whole tone and octatonic scales “destabilize aural predictability and tonal trajectory,” yet effectively induce a mystical aura. Another tool commonly used by Duruflé and Langlais was the “Tournemire chord”. This chord is created from two triads spaced a tritone apart; C#-major 5/3 and a G-major 6/3.  Duruflé and Langlais used elements such as these in their post-conciliar compositions, Sanctus of the Messe “Cum Jubilo” and Imploration pour Croyance for organ, respectively. Each composer tried through his compositions to express his stance on the importance of the retention of vertical, theocentric liturgical worship, and to contextualize its inherent ethereal beauty drawn from Tournemire’s mystical legacy.

Vincent Rone

In order to better equip today’s organists in the pursuit of improvising in the style of Charles Tournemire, David McCarthy, FAGO, presented a workshop titled, “Using the Five Improvisations as a Source for Improvisation Pedagogy.” McCarthy, professor at St. John Fisher College and Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, studied the Rupert Gough transcription of Tournemire’s Cinq Choral Improvisations and selected for his presentation certain reccurring improvisational techniques contained within this work. McCarthy organized these skills in practical sequential exercises to facilitate the retention of key improvisational concepts. He spoke of the improviser’s initial tendency to use certain improvisational methods that he or she is comfortable with and then of the necessity to expand this comfort zone with alternative techniques of improvisation. McCarthy’s workshop provided the attendees of this conference with some of Tournemire’s techniques in order to help them enlarge and develop their respective improvisational horizons.

Demonstrating and expanding upon the subject of improvisation, David J. Hughes, organist and choirmaster at St. Mary Church in Norwalk, Connecticut, performed a recital consisting solely of improvisations in addition to co-presenting an advanced improvisation workshop with Dr. Ann Labounsky. Hughes improvised on Gregorian chant themes chosen by members of the audience from the Mass Propers of the feast of St. Anthony Mary Claret, Mass VII chants for the Ordinary of the Mass, and the solemn tone of Salve Regina in his recital at Calvary Episcopal Church. This improvisatory performance gave the audience a taste of the themes Charles Tournemire used during weekly Mass at Ste. Clotilde and how these timeless chants could still be applied in present-day improvisations. During the advanced improvisation master class at Epiphany Catholic Church, Hughes spoke about the role of Tournemire as an organist improvising for the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass. Hughes said that the role of the organist improviser playing for the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is to help “build substance” in the Mass rather than just eliminating silences. Hughes continued by listing the sections of the Mass for which the organist would improvise and their respective elements. He focused specifically on the offertory of the Mass, especially the mystical aspects of the ritual of incensing. Subsequently, participants of the master class took turns improvising for an imaginary Offertory, using a chant for the theme. Hughes guided these participants as to what the priest and servers would be doing during these improvisations and on how to musically respond to these actions. Thus, all those who came to the advanced improvisation master class had a clearer understanding of Charles Tournemire’s improvisational duties for Sunday Masses.

David Hughes

Dr. Zvonimir Nagy, Assistant Professor of Musicianship Studies at Duquesne University, gave a lecture titled “Performance as Ritual; Creativity as Prayer.” Nagy discussed the relationship of performance and liturgical ritual with the spiritual and musical experiences of the human soul. He said that music provides a medium through which people may see God, since humans cannot see Him with their eyes. He related this spirituality of music to the mysticism and creative energy expressed in Charles Tournemire’s compositions. These spiritual qualities of music continue to be used in present-day compositions, such as in Dr. Nagy’s own works. He uses his personal relationship with God to draw creative inspiration for musical expression in his compositions, as Tournemire similarly did. Dr. Nagy demonstrated a culmination of this practice in a performance of his own Preludes for a Prayer.

At the end of the third day of this conference, a High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite was offered at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Carnegie, Pennsylvania. The Mass immersed those attending the conference into the atmosphere in which Charles Tournemire improvised and for which he composed L’Orgue Mystique. Paul M. Weber, Associate Professor of Music at Franciscian University of Steubenville, composed the musical setting of the Ordinary of the Mass used for the evening, Missa Orbis Factor for Women’s Voices & Strings. Weber also served as the organist for the Mass. The setting served as a lovely contemporary counterpart to the Mass settings composed by French organists which were presented in recital on the day previous by Dr. Edward Schaefer of the University of Florida and The Florida Schola Cantorum. The reflective atmosphere of the High Mass and choral Mass settings allowed everyone present to participate in an essential inspirational source for Tournemire’s works and improvisations.

High Mass at St. Eliabeth Ann Seton, Carnegie, PA

The final event of the conference was a panel discussion followed by a recital of Tournemire chamber works. The chamber works featured were Musique orante pour quatour à cordes, Op. 61, La Salutation Angélique, Op. 9, Morceau de concours du Conservatoire de Paris, (1935) for Trumpet and Piano, the Largo movement from his Suite for viola and piano, Op. 11, and a Sonata for violin and piano, Op. 1. The panel tenants consisted of Dr. Ann Labounsky, organist Richard Spotts, and CMAA Academic Liaison Dr. Jennifer Donelson. Topics covered in the panel discussion included Tournemire’s legacy, the average person’s perspective on Tournemire’s music, a summation of what was learned about his improvisational style, and reasons why his other works besides L’Orgue Mystiqueare not as well known. An important concept gleaned from the panel discussion was the idea that in order to promulgate the music of Charles Tournemire, sacred musicians must make it accessible to the public. Accessibility could include categorizing his music from easy to difficult, making a deliberate effort to perform his works regularly, to improvise in the Tournemire tradition, and to elevate and inspire congregation members through sacred music as did he. In the spirit of this idea, Duquesne University Sacred Music and Organ Performance students contributed to the process of propagating Tournemire’s legacy by performing his and his students’ compositions in an afternoon recital on Tuesday of the conference.

Recital of Chamber Works by Tournemire, Musique orante pour quatour à cordes, Op. 61, played by Rômulo Sprung, Dante Coutinho, Katie Kroko, and Lian Ciao

If Bach is said to be the Newton of the eighteenth century, Charles Tournemire could be considered the Einstein of the twentieth century. L’Orgue Mystique, a timeless tapestry woven from ancient threads, is a monumental work of pious ingenuity. His improvisations too reflect both his expert musicality and religious devotion. In profound religious sensibility, Tournemire was known to occasionally conclude a Mass at a pianissimo, not at a sforzando. Sacred musicians should always make an effort tospiritually elevate and inspire those who listen as they attempt to express the immaculate immaterial through the imperfect material. They seek to communicate musically what it means to be human and point this aching world to its Creator. The name Charles Tournemire should become synonymous with the raw vitality of transcendence. Through his inspiration, organ music can transmit dreams from heavens to hands and into the heart.

[i] Alan Hobbs, Charles Tournemire 1870–1939; L’Orgue Mystique, Op. 55, 56, and 57, 51 Offices of the Liturgical Year based on the freely paraphrased Gregorian chants (Calgary, Canada: Lissett Publications, 1992), 16.

[ii] Ibid., 19.

Tournemire Conference in Pittsburgh Begins!

The CMAA is back in Pittsburgh for three and a half days devoted to Charles Tournemire and his students.  Stay tuned here to follow along with the conference if you’re unable to join us.

Before the conference this morning, Dr. Ed Schaefer (University of Florida) directed the Florida Schola Cantorum in singing the chant propers and a Palestrina Mass for the 11:00 a.m. High Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite at St. Boniface in Pittsburgh.

Dr. Schaefer and his choir will be performing choral works by Franck, Dupré, Alain, Duruflé, Langlais, and Messiaen in a concert tomorrow afternoon.

Attendees began arriving this afternoon to Heinz chapel on the campus of the University of Pittsburgh, a magnificent setting for the opening activities of the conference.

The conference began with a recital of works by Tournemire and his students, played by alumni of the organ program at Duquesne University.

The organ, designed by Tournemire specialist and professor emeritus of Univ. of Pittsburgh, Robert Sutherland Lord, is magnificently suited for the French repertoire.

This evening will conclude with compline, sung by the Pittsburgh Compline Choir under the direction of Alastair Stout.