Sunday, July 08, 2012

Extraordinary Music at the Vatican!!

Thanks to Papa Benny the word "Extraordinary" has had something of a revival among Catholic Scrabble players worldwide. Rev Dr James Hawkey managed to use the word three times in as many sentences as he reflected on a recent joint choral project of the choirs of the Sistine Chapel and Westminster Abbey. (trivia buffs note the full title of the Sistine Chapel Choir is Cappella Musicale Pontifica Sistina)

The Huffington Post article on this event explores the differences  of cultural heritage in each choir, a refreshing and insightful observation. I would never have though to compare the "precision and details of the English Choir with the warmth and intensity of the Italian Choir"

While these events may make headlines in the Vatican, we in the antipodes have been singing alongside each other happily for some years.

Only a few weeks ago I attended a Festival of Great  Hymns at the Anglican Cathedral of St John's in Brisbane. This festival was not a liturgical event as such although it included a service of Evensong at its conclusion.

The choristers from the Catholic and Anglican Cathedrals of Brisbane who participated also included a few more females than the Roman gathering.And I have to admit that the Roman  event did have a more formal dress code.

The "Great Hymns" on the local program  included a few good old favourites encouraging good congregational singing: All People That On Earth Do Dwell,Abide With Me and Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer.  We were also treated to some choral gems such as a Slater arranged Halley version of Bernard of Cllairvaux's Jesus the Very Thought of Thee

Another  unique  feature of the Festival of Great Hymns was the collaboration of the directors of each Cathedral Choir.Mind you this was not too complicated as Graham Moreton, the Director of Choirs at St John's Cathedral is the brother of Ralph Moreton the Director of Music at the Cathedral of St Stephen.

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