Fall Sacred Music Workshop in California!

Fall Sacred Music Workshop 2022 | Menlo Park, California

The Church Music Association of America is pleased to announce the first Fall Sacred Music Workshop for Chant and Polyphony. This four-day workshop offers participants the opportunity to study chant and polyphony with outstanding directors and presenters Dr. Horst Buchholz, Dr. Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, David Hughes, Dr. William Mahrt, and Rev. Robert Pasley. We also welcome guest speakers Maggie Gallagher, of the Benedict XVI Institute, and Fr. Samuel Weber, of St. Patrick’s Seminary.

Participate in singing the beautiful liturgies with the CMAA on September 15, 16, and 17 at St. Patrick’s Seminary in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, California. Join in with morning and night prayer and enjoy an evening with sung Vespers and an organ recital.

Lodging will be available at Vallombrosa Retreat Center during the workshop. Full meals and lodging are available for participants. Commuter options also available.

Liturgies will be at St. Patrick’s Seminary.

Get all the details here: FALL WORKSHOP

Register online here: ONLINE REGISTRATION

Register Now for Colloquium 2022!


The Church Music Association of America is happy to announce that registrations are now being accepted for the 2022 Colloquium in Hagerstown, Maryland, June 20-25, 2022. Once again, we will celebrate liturgies together, sing in choirs, learn from outstanding faculty and enjoy the camaraderie that we’ve all missed in the past two years.

Don’t delay making your registration, as we do have limited capacity this year.

For all the details about the Colloquium, including schedule, repertory, faculty, scholarships, and more, visit our Colloquium page to get all the information.

Save the Dates – Colloquium and Summer Courses

The CMAA is delighted to announce that our upcoming Sacred Music Colloquium will be held in Hagerstown, Maryland June 20-25, 2022 at St. Mary’s Parish in Hagerstown.

In addition, our Summer Courses will also take place at St. Mary’s in Hagerstown, Maryland June 14-18, 2022. The Summer Courses offered will be

  • NEW!!! Vocal Pedagogy, taught by Dr. MeeAe Cecilia Nam
  • Laus in Ecclesia Level One, taught by Kathy Reinheimer
  • NEW!!! Laus in Ecclesia Level Two, taught by Fr. Mark Bachmann, choirmaster at Clear Creek Abbey

We hope you’ll make plans to join us. Our online registration and full details will be forthcoming, so stay tuned!

Jeffrey Morse on Chant Intensive 2019: register now

You still have time to register at regular rates and avoid the late fees… Register by May 15th!

Once again, the CMAA will be offering the Summer Chant Intensive at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. The course is offered June 24-28, 2019.

This course has been a valuable springboard for many Catholic musicians who wanted to learn more about Gregorian chant. Many of us got our start in directing scholas and choirs because of this course, which was offered for the first time in 2008.

Our instructor this year will be Jeffrey Morse, who has provided us with this letter that includes more detail about the scope of the course:

… Over the years teaching chant to various groups at the Colloquium, many students had expressed their desire for more Chant instruction, particularly in subjects like the modes, but due to the time limitation of the Colloquium it was impossible to cover these topics.

If you were one of these students wanting more, the Chant Intensive is for you! The topics of the Chant Intensive are provided on the CMAA website, but I thought that perhaps it might prove helpful to expand a bit on the course description and syllabus, which can be a bit off putting and vague as they are necessarily short and succinct.

The Chant Intensive is offered for everyone, with little or no chant experience, but particularly for those with an intermediate level of knowledge of plainchant and even for the advanced. I think all levels will find something useful in this Intensive. While no chant knowledge, or little is required for the class, some will be helpful as the basics of Chant, the reading of the square notes, the staff, etc. will be done at a fairly good pace, serving as a review for the others in the first sessions. In my experience in teaching over the years, this is fine for beginners, but if you would like to go at a much slower pace, perhaps “Laus in Ecclesia Level I”, offered at the same time, might be a better fit.

In the course of the week, we will explore the 8 modes in which Chant is written. Their individual qualities and sounds, using solfège (do, re, mi) to learn the modes and be able to sing them. Modal studies will also focus on examples of Chant representing every mode, the
important notes in each, and how over centuries these notes have sometimes changed, as well as the psalm-tone for each mode. In the learning of the psalm-tones, or the little melodies to which the psalms are sung, we will learn how exactly the psalms are sung to each of these melodies and the rules of “Pointing” accents and preparatory syllables that make it possible. Emphasis too, will be placed on how a good unified, choral tone is cultivated, as well as good basic vocal techniques helpful for those students with choirs or even for themselves! The simple and natural rhythm of Chant, from the simple syllabic chants of the Ordinary of the Mass and Gregorian hymns, to the melismatic glories of the alleluias and Graduals and everything in between will be explored thoroughly in singing through as much of the Gregorian repertoire as possible, with time spent on teaching the direction of Chant (chironomy), with students able to practice the direction techniques learned with the group.

Lastly, we will be returning to the very sources of the Chant in a basic introduction to the reading of the notation of the St Gall school (9th century) which is the earliest notation in the Western world. We will talk about how these manuscripts helped in the melodic restoration of the Chant in the late 19th and early 20th century by the monks of Solesmes, and we will discover how their amazing subtleties, not carried through in the square note notation of later centuries, can inform and finesse our interpretation of the Chant breathing freshness, light, and life into the sacred texts it serves.

For those wanting a more thorough grounding and exposure to Gregorian Chant than what is possible at the Colloquium, this class is for you. I am grateful to the CMAA for offering the Chant Intensive each year, for I can think of nowhere else where such a complete education in the Chant is offered in such a concentrated fashion. With this class, it is hoped that the students will gain the confidence and skills to form and direct their own scholas or choirs, or become better directors of already existing ones, to bring this unparalleled music of the Church forward to our parishes and future generations, this music with its unique and singular ability to lift minds and hearts to God.

Looking forward to seeing old friends at the Chant Intensive and making new ones, singing with you all and passing it on! See you in Pittsburgh!

For all the information about the upcoming Chant courses in Pittsburgh, visit our website to find information about Registration, Housing, Schedule, and more: CMAA SUMMER COURSES

View a short video about the summer courses here:


Save $50 – Register by March 1st – Colloquium


If you register and pay in full by March 1st, you’ll receive Early Bird tuition rates for this summer’s Church Music Association of America Colloquium. The Colloquium is to be held in St. Louis, MO, at the St. Louis City Center Hotel, June 20 – June 25, 2016.

CMAA members are entitled to a member discount. Not a member?


Three Great venues: the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the Shrine of St. Joseph, and Pro-Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and Apostle.

Are you a composer? Plan to participate in our New Music breakouts with David Hughes.

Sing Mozart, Palestrina or a variety of motets in your chosen polyphonic choir. There is also a beginning polyphonic choir again this year, which will sing a motet later in the week. See all the details and begin making your choir selections now.

NEW! Repertory Listing Uploaded to our Website!

For more information about the repertory, schedule, accommodations, faculty, plenary speakers and more, visit our website at: http://musicasacra.com/colloquium

To register by mail now, download a registration form and send it to us at: CMAA, PO Box 4344, Roswell, NM 88202.

If you have questions, please contact us at programs@musicasacra.com. 

On Fr Ralph March’s “Are You a True Minister of Music.” Part One

Here it is, Monday after Colloquium 2014, and in the mail are two issues of SACRED MUSIC, Spring and Summer of this same year. Thank you, Bill Stoops, for having such quick access to your status reports at Indianapolis!

All I can manage right now is a perusal of content, particular of V.141.2 which celebrates CMAA’s 50th anniversary of its amalgam merge of the St. Caeilia and St. Gregory Societies in 1964. There is much wheat to harvest in this volume and its predecessor. As I was skimming the Summer edition I noticed a title that reminded me of a former CMAA attendee’s great essay about being a so-called “Pastoral Musician,” that being the article by Rev. Ralph S. March, S.O. Cist, “Are You a True Minister of Music?” That is a captivating, challenging and still relevant question as there is yet and still great, likely more division between folks who left Indy and week ago and those situated in St. Lousis this week. It occured to me that Dr. Jenny or someone else responsibly excerpted certain quotations from Fr’s discourse of 1972 and just by entertaining those quotes one could respond via an article’s length here at the Cafe.

Part the first: A music minister should be familiar with the most important musical styles of any given century.

That maxim still and ever shall stand. However, who could have seen in ’64 or in ’72 the curve of instability to stability that 50 years of contemporaneous composition, exposition and distribution of an unheard-of concept of sacred “song” by Lucien Deiss, the SLJ’s/Dameans/St. Thomas More, the Minnesotans, the Californians and so forth could become bedrock in Anglophile parishes and others back then. (I leave out the seminal folkies purposefully.) Surely not Westendorf nor Lindusky who were there in BoysTown in ’64. How does one deal with the compositions of not just these but those of Howard Hughes, Thomas Savoy, Leo Nestor, Jeffrey Honore, and then multi-faceted, schooled composers such as Janet Sullivan Whitaker, myself, Jan Michael Joncas, Richard Rice, Jeffrey Quick, Francis Koerber and many, many others whose genres aren’t so easily categorized? The simple response is that Fr. March’s advice still stands, but the demands are much more upon us. Some will argue that the Conciliar documents of the Second Council are unequivocally clear: Primacy of place to chanted forms, and their inheritors generically designated polyphony (a term of actually little pragmatic significance.) Yes, surely that seems clear. But under the lenses of the legislative options provided by those same documents, who can stand and call themself the final arbiter of a music’s suitability? (That’s a rhetorical question, no need to actually engage it, really.) But to purposefully remain ignorant of both specific genres and pieces in the last 50 years actually doesn’t pass Fr. March’s muster. The catch qualifier is the adjective “most important” music styles of all centuries. I’ve always maintained that cannot be fulfilled by wholesale dismissal based upon any prejudicial criteria.

Part the second The music minister must be a student, an educator, and a diplomat.

Uh, yup. Student? Check! Educator? Check! Diplomat? Huh…….? We are not just diplomats representing philosophies and idealogies of CMAA or Mother Church at the level of parish practice. We a diplomats first and foremost of Christ Jesus, who trumps any objectivification of the rule of worship and the rule of belief. When the Pharisees tried to pigeon-hole Him in order to discredit Him according to the Decalogue, Christ veni, vidi and vici’d their folly forever. Diplomats don’t deal (despite the political machinations of our current era or federal government) with policies, but with people.

To these 63 year old astigmatized, far-sighted and strabymus (crossed) eyes this is our largest failure even with Fr. March’s criteria back in ’72. Unfortunately there’s loads of evidence in cyberspace CMAA and even at Colloquia that many of us think “we da Bomb.” We move from place to place like Yul Brynner’s character in the “Magnificent Seven” taking on noble causes for ignoble recompense thinking that we’re not just saving the plebes and peasants from their gross, feudal and outlaw occupying fascist lords, but we’re going to change their whole attitude about “musicam sacram” in less than a fortnight. Not. Go to the MSForum, three to six RotR gigs are posted there at any given time. Why?

Because we have to love and forgive our people and their pastors. We have to speak to them honestly, in both truth and love. But in my experience, many of us in CMAA equivocate truth with love. No, going to hell is not an automatic consequence of singing “On Eagles’ Wings.” Coaxing their sensibilities towards “Qui habitat” via whatever sensory input (remember the second of March’s admonitions, “teacher,” requires skills that can influence the receptors’ many modes of intellectual and spiritual acquisition. I’m a bit tired now….will resume this tomorrow.