Summer music and liturgy events

Still making plans for the summer? Here are some of the educational opportunities being offered in sacred music and liturgy:

  • The Sacred Music Colloquium of the Church Music Association of America: a six-day program including fully sung Masses in English, Latin, and Spanish, providing an experience of the liturgy with its full ceremonial and sacred music. Participants join choirs under expert instructors to learn and sing Gregorian chant and choral polyphony. This year the Colloquium Masses will be held at the cathedral in Philadelphia July 1-6, and the polyphony choirs will be directed by Timothy O’Donnell, Charles Cole, David Hughes, and MeeAe Cecilia Nam.
  • Chant courses sponsored by the Church Music Association of America: in the week preceding the Colloquium, two chant programs will be presented on the campus of Duquesne University in Pittsburgh: our “Chant Intensive” program under conductor Jeffrey Morse, and the first level of the “Laus in Ecclesia” cantor training program under Br. Mark Bachmann OSB of Clear Creek Abbey. Graduate credit is available for both programs through Duquesne.
  • Michael Alan Anderson is directing a week-long workshop on chant and polyphony presented by Eastman School of Music, to be held in New York City June 10-14.
  • Janet Coxwell, David Woodcock, and Andrew Carwood will be directing the Early Music Academy Boston program July 27-Aug 2, to be held at Assumption College in Worcester, Mass., studying works of Palestrina, Clemens, and Guerrero.
  • Patrick Torsell will direct a chant camp for children and youth 7-18 years of age in Harrisburg, PA, June 24-28; a video on-line has more information.
  • St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York will offer graduate-level courses in sacred music this summer, on site and on-line; the on-line classes start June 3, and on-site programs start July 22: descriptions are available on the Musica Sacra Forum.
  • A retreat for church musicians will be offered August 16-20 in Sleepy Eve, MN: a description of the program with liturgies offered according to the Usus Antiquior of the Roman rite is offered in this PDF file, and registration information is at the event’s Facebook page.
  • Schola Cantus Angelorum is presenting its seventh summer liturgy conference in Spokane May 28-31 on the campus of Gonzaga University. Speakers include Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, Bishop Thomas Daly, Bishop Robert Vasa, Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, Dr. Peter Kwasniewski, Nathan Schmiedicke, Msgr. Richard Huneger, Canon Lawyer Magdalen Ross, Rev. Theodore Lange, Rev. Gabriel Mosher OP, Douglas Schneider, Alex Begin and Enzo Selvaggi. More information is at
  • The Monastère Saint-Benoît of the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon is presenting the sixth annual Sacra Liturgia Summer School, in English, at La Garde-Freinet in France, August 3-16.
  • Composer-conductor Paul Jernberg is presenting a Sacred Music Workshop for clergy, musicians, and laity June 24-29 on the beautiful campus of Northeast Catholic College in Warner, New Hampshire. (unfortunately cancelled)
  • St. Vitus Parish (FSSP) in Los Angeles is presenting its Sacred Music Symposium June 24-28 under the direction of Jeffrey Ostrowski.
  • Daniel Saulnier, former director of the paleography workshop at Solesmes, is presenting an introductory workshop on Gregorian chant August 6-9 as part of the Choralies festival at Vaison-la-Romaine.
  • The Gregorian Institute of Canada will present its summer conference August 8-11 at the Abbey of St.-Benoit-du-Lac in Quebec, with musicologist Juan Carlos Asensio Palacios presenting on Hispanic (“Mozarabic”) plainchant.


July/August 2019: a chant camp for boys in SoCal

News from St. Michael’s Abbey in Orange County, CA:

Since 1962, St. Michael’s Summer Camp has been providing boys with a unique summer camp experience. Operated by the Norbertine Fathers and fraters (brothers) on their beautiful abbey grounds, the camp combines summer fun with opportunities for growth in the Catholic Faith. Boys from ages 7-12 participate in a number of sports, swimming, hiking, and campfires–as well as Confession, catechism classes, daily Mass, and more! This year, the camp staff is pleased to introduce Sacred Music Week, a week of camp dedicated to learning and singing Gregorian chant and other sacred music. Sacred Music Week (July 28 – August 3) will provide campers with all the usual summer camp activities, in addition to daily choir classes and opportunities to sing for the Holy Mass. No auditions or previous singing experience is required. St. Michael’s Summer Camp is accredited by the American Camp Association. For more information or to register, please visit

Do we need a softer, more secularized approach?

[In the course of a recent on-line conversation about why secular-sounding music doesn’t belong in the Mass, I offered this comment.]

I could understand the intention to create an easy, comfortable experience for outsiders: having the interior of the building look like an auditorium or a shopping mall food court; having no-brainer music that sounds like evangelical choruses from Christian radio. Some clergy and musicians might think that a soft-style approach would help some people feel comfortable setting foot in a Catholic parish church: people whose background didn’t include the faith.

This approach has its limitations, though: it doesn’t provide the liturgical formation that growing Christians need. It reminds me of the idea of having separate Masses for various age groups of young people on Sunday. It’s well-meant, and some people say they like it. But it creates a ghetto situation, and doesn’t lead the children into the regular parish experience.

If there were a Mass conducted specifically for “seekers” as a transitional experience for them — where they wouldn’t be expected to know the rites, sing the songs, stand or sit; where people who aren’t Catholic and aren’t ready to receive Holy Communion could stay in their pews without standing out: there might be some benefit for some souls.

But treating the whole parish as though they aren’t able to appreciate the authentic rites, or genuine church art, or music that sounds like church music: as though these things were over their heads: that’s really a kind of disrespect, and an imposition.

The soft-style approach is ultimately even deceptive, because Christianity is not a low-commitment religion that people can reasonably take or leave, according to their personal tastes and preferences. Belonging to Jesus is a matter of high commitment.