Colloquium blogging

I’d promised a report from the CMAA Colloquium. I’m late getting going on this because there’s no internet in the dorm room, the one public computer in the dorm is in great demand (and wouldn’t take cookies anyway), and I’ve been busy in spare moments (of which there are few) in the library. Right now I’m in the student union, on wireless.

I got a late start out of the house Monday because I couldn’t find my cell phone. I may have lost it at church, kneeling or something. I have Rusty’s so she can get called. I ought to get a headset and a Skype account. I finally got going by 9. Paid the outrageous tolls on the turnpike (I won’t coming back), got off at Cranberry and visited Musik Innovations, where I bought a wad of easy organ music, most for 50% off. Also got 3 cases of Yuengling beers. Made my way downtown without mishap, got my parking pass, hung out at the library until I could check in at 2. I quickly figured out that Duquesne is a 3-dimensional campus. I got severely disoriented in the library, where I entered at street level, saw the circulation desk, and didn’t realize that I was actually on the 4th floor. But they have Macs and a scanner, and the Boys Town music collection, so all kind of interesting things have been showing up on my thumb drive. I got checked into the dorm. Vickroy Hall is a fairly recent building (1996). It has air conditioning which is way too efficient, and unstoppable. And the beds are quasi-bunks at about chest level; I have to stand on a chair to get in and out. Back to the Power Center to check in, back to the library. Meet and greet at 5, with WINE. Met somebody who knows Fr. Bouchard from QHR. Also met Dr. Mahrt so I could thank him for putting in a good work for me for the FSA prize (finally met Susan Treacy last night, haven’t met Richard Rice yet). I’ve not introduced myself to Jeffrey Tucker yet…whenever I’m around, he’s talking to somebody.

Dinner began with the whole room (250+) singing Veni Creator Spiritus, in fine voices, with no audible mistakes. That was my first clue that this is not Catholic music as we know and (don’t) love it.  Food was fairly decent but a little skimpy for me. Probably a feature instead of a bug for later meals, but breakfast is not until 8:50, I’m an early riser (and worse here), and I’m HUNGRY.  Worse, there’s no early morning coffee, and Starbucks doesn’t open until 7:30 (It speaks well for academic standards that the library opens before Starbucks does.)  The new Tascam recorder captured Dr. Mahrt’s lecture just fine.  Then off to Compline (I haven’t been to Morning Prayer yet…maybe today).

Yesterday was the first day of serious business. I needn’t have worried about whether I could hack the advanced chant class. I’m not having to pull psalm tones out of my butt,  and I crammed my neume names enough that I could follow the rehearsal directions. But it’s big (50 people), it’s in the church (Carlo Rossini’s old church) which has fan, air conditioning and street noise, and it’s hard for me to hear speech.  Then off to Horst Buchholz’ conducting breakout.  In Dr. Mahrt’s polyphonic choir, we got introduced to the Vesper psalms we’re doing, but mostly worked on the Marenzio motet we were doing for the afternoon Mass. The group had a distinct tendency to drag, but managed to find a steady tempo for the performance….which occurred immediately after. The Mass was Ordinary Form, with Latin Ordinary and the rest in English. There was an introit from Adam Bartlett’s new Simple English Propers, Burgess Gradual (yes, Gradual, not responsorial psalm), Bruce Ford communion, and the Richard Rice offertory. Now, Richard’s Simple Choral Gradual doesn’t look like anything on the page. But they’re quite effective in the liturgy. They don’t seem like Western Rite music though; there’s something subtly Russian Orthodox about them. I missed doing my chant because I wasn’t in the right place at the right time; they sounded fine without me. The only major snafu was when we got to the Mysterium Fidei and almost nobody knew the Gregorian memorial acclamation (because, duh, we’ve all been singing the “Christ has died” claptrap.). I saw Jeffrey Tucker facepalming.

Last night we had Msgr. Wadsworth’s address, a fine work. And Mr. Tucker requested (with the note that “you’ll never hear this anywhere else”) that people not improvise organum to the responses, and that they not sing along with the groups designated to do various pieces of chant and polyphony.


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