Monday, April 28, 2008

a critique on the music for the installation of a bishop...before it even happens :-)

I'm singing in the choir for the installation of our new bishop tomorrow, and I thought I'd post a summary of what we rehearsed yesterday with the whole choir. There's about 80-100 people singing, and a brass quintet (?) and timpani. Overall it was cool, and I am impressed in general with the music, especially considering the resources MD is working with (this huge choir of mostly un-trained church choir singers who barely or not at all read music, and very little rehearsal time.) I shall try to keep my observations to the factual as to not offend anyone :-) but of course this is my own blog and I am entitled to my own opinion. Also keep in mind that on some things I am not quite certain as to how they will go tomorrow, as this is obviously a future event.

Opening: All Creatures of Our God and King, all 7 verses (hey, we've got to get 100+ priests down the aisle!) neat, alternating brass verses with organ
O God Beyone All Praising (I love this song, minus the high notes.)
Then I guess the song will stop and the new bishop does some ritual of knocking on the church door and stuff, and then we continue the same tune with other words of:)
O Spirit All-Embracing

Gloria: same one for Chrism Mass. enough said.

Psalm: arranged by MD (diocesan music director guy.) rather long refrain, (three lines on my sheet,) at first I thought "what the heck is this?" (given the length, and it should be transposed down a third--it goes from middle e, to HIGH Eb! wtf? and the organ accompaniment was rather strange-large, very blocky, fast chords.) Something about it made me think of the "Te Deum," and then I looked a little closer and was strangely suspicious that it WAS based on the Te Deum! I wanted to ask, but I didn't want to show off if I was right, or embarrass MD if that was unintentional... (the melody is basically la-do-re-do-re-mi-fa-mi-re, do-me-fa-me-fa-so-le-so-fa, with varying rhythms.) I'm sure the first phrase is just like the Te Deum, but I'm not sure about the second, and I don't want to bother checking right now. I think it would work a lot better if the organ accompaniment were more sustained, but I think the organist might have been sight-reading, and MD seemed to be working with her (from my far vantage point,) more on the voicing, and at some point they came up with a more sustained stringy sound, that will be interesting to see how it sounds tomorrow.
*I wonder if MD knows that our new bishop will actually CARE about having the correct text for the Psalm responses, and so can't use just any one for the normal GIA repertoire! ha. or maybe he actually thought he could write a better arrangement? (personally, after hearing it, I wasn't impressed, which is why I am suspicious that it is the former reason.)

Acclamation: (see Chrism Mass, but we are singing "Alleluia," instead of course.)

Trilingual Intercessions: good idea, it seems to be pulled off well.

Acclamation for Welcoming a New Pastor: Messenger of Christ (Proulx): pretty cool, some modern chords and interesting harmonies. I'm surprised that this volunteer choir was able to pull it off as well as they did (I had to miss the rehearsal where they learned it cuz of my grandma, so I'm not sure what the learning process was like...) it's based on an Ancient Celtic Prayer. (I love Richard Proulx and most things that he writes! I hope I can meet him someday!)

Offertory: (not sure exactly what will be here, but the only thing I don't know where it goes is this): Tu Es Petrus (by Clemens non Papa ~1555) Of course the new bishop requested this. but, it's interesting hearing a four-part polyphonic piece that is supposed to be sung by a small schola, being sung with 90 people! I'm sure most people in the choir are not at ALL familiar with this style of music (sadly,) so it seems to kind of drag and stuff cuz everyone is kind of hesitating and uncertain. I am sure it would have sounded better if he had asked for a smaller choir of people who were more confident singers to just sing this, but I am also glad that the larger choir is getting exposure to this style of music. (an interesting note: yesterday when we were rehearsing this, the timpani was playing and I thought, "good grief, I knew they would find a way to ruin it..." and then the timpani player questioned, "my part says double forte!" and MD was like, "um...well that's cuz you don't play on this piece...!" [phew!]
normally I am totally opposed to drums for our western Roman Catholic liturgy, but I thought yesterday that in general the timpani sounded cool and appropriate on the grand hymns, and I do think it's the only kind of drums that work at Mass.)

Mass of Creation: (of course...but, good grief...enough said.)

Lamb of God: can't remember if they did this one for the Chrism Mass. It's by Howard Hughes, and it says it is based on the opening theme of "Te Deum."For some reason we have to sing tropes every time except the first and last "Lamb of God." I tongue-in-cheek pointed out at one rehersal the little not in the front of the piece that talks about no one is allowed to rearrange the words...hehe... I wonder what the bishop will think of that, (in addition to I'm pretty sure it's totally forbidden somewhere to add tropes.) would it really be so terrible for us to sing "Lamb of God" five times rather than "Son of God, Paschal Lamb, blah blah..." What's the reason? Are they afraid people will get bored?! I'd think there would be MORE congregational participation if people got to keep singing the same words!

Communion: O God, You Search Me (by B. Farrell, text from Psalm 139.) not too shabby. nice, singable melody, nothing heretical in the text. (actually, I'm not totally sure where in the liturgy this piece will go. this is just a guess.)
Amen. El Cuerpo De Cristo: ugh. see Chrism Mass.
Gift of Finest Wheat: Not a terrible song, it's just over-done.

Closing: Holy God We Praise Thy Name (with 5 verses!) apparently the new bishop requested this particular version of it. yes. I like him already.

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