Friday, 18 May 2007

Music in Leeds

In the 12 May edition of the Tablet, there was a very interesting article about choral music in Leeds.
Bishop Arthur Roche, who appears to be something of a rising star in matters liturgical, (being also chairman of ICEL) comments:
Catholics have a right to experience good liturgy in their cathedral.
Well, quite! And what is even more encouraging, is that he means by 'good liturgy' something rather more like what I mean by good liturgy, and less what, say Paul Inwood or Stephen Dean might mean.
One of the main obstacles to having really good music in one's church is money. It's certainly the case in my parish, where we struggle with debt. Leeds has come up with a novel solution. The cathedral musicians travel around in the locality to schools, and give in each an hour's tuition a week in choral singing, for which they are paid. In this way, not only do they have their salary subsidized, but they also foster good music among young people, and have access to discovering good voices to sing in the Cathedral choir.
The Tablet noted that Bradford Anglican Cathedral are rather cross about this, because Leeds Catholic Cathedral is snapping up the best voices. It also notes that whereas Anglican cathedrals have a rather limited repertoire of Victorian and Edwardian Evensong music, Catholic repertoire is so much wider.
I was also thrilled to see that the Cathedral choirs sing Mass and Vespers four times a week. That's really inspiritional, and wonderful to know that at least one Cathedral in this country is not dumbing down, but the reverse.

Here's a movie tour of the Cathedral with a message from the bishop, followed by the choir singing a polyphonic Regina Caeli very well indeed.
And just look at this splendid music list!

10 comments:

LL said...

Yes, it's a marvellous thriving tradition. I was one of the first choral scholars in Leeds Cathedral back in 1997-2000 and am just delighted to see it growing.

Anonymous said...

Gosh, that is splendid.
I meant to say that here, not on your recipe for Chardonay.

Anonymous said...

How impressive. What a great musical education they are getting, not to mention the benefit to the entire diocese.

Simon Glynn said...

Superb music indeed. Although, is this liturgy? Is it enabling people to 'enter into' and pray the songs of the Church - the psalms and the Sanctus for example.
Or is this merely a superb concert?

Chris said...

Dear Fr,

Thankyou for your kind comments on our Diocosan music program. Please see our blog for more up to date happenings!

http://www.psallite-domino.blogspot.com/

Best wishes.

Anonymous said...

Kind comments indeed. But I have to say that the comments about Bradford Anglican Cathedral are less than kind.
Also, why be so dismissive of Stephen Dean and Paul Inwood who have made such an enormous contribution to the liturgical life of this country?

Fr Justin said...

I don't think I have been 'so dismissive' of Inwood and Dean at all; I have simply said I differ from them about what makes good liturgical music. They would doubtless say the same about me.
And if there was unkindness about Bradford Anglican Cathedral, then it was the Tablet, not me; I was merely indirectly quoting. Anyway, it doesn't look unkind to me; it merely records a (presumed) fact!

Anonymous said...

This is certainly good music (even great music). The young are certainly receiving a musical education.
However, is this good liturgical music? Is the eucharist merely being interrupted by musical interludes that exclude the voice of the congregation, and (being in Latin or archaic English), leaving the young uninformed about scripture, liturgy and the Christian faith?

Fr Justin said...

You may as well say that the priest excludes the congregation when he is speaking; the whole point is that there are different ministries and talents which all have their place.
I wonder why you consider that the purpose of music at Mass should be didactic?
And in the end, if you don't find that a choral Mass helps you to find God, go to another Mass; you have plenty of choice, after all, which is not true of those who find the more common style of music unhelpful. I really dislike the attitude that says 'I find x helpful, therefore I think that nothing else should be permitted'.
You acknowledge that the young are receiving a good musical education; why do you think that such talent is an inappropriate offering to God?

Anonymous said...

Please don't get me wrong. I am all for choral music (there is plenty of provision for this in the GIRM). Also I do not consider the role of music in the Eucharist to be purely didactic.
I am not saying that choral music should not be permitted! (God forbid!).
The development of young talent is certainly an appropriate offering to God.
However, I would question whether this music is liturgical.
The Leeds music list seems to exclude the most important congregational parts of the Mass - the Sanctus, acclamations and pslams for example.