Dream of a Catholic musician: James MacMillan at Colloquium?
  • Just a thought... I do not claim to be an organizer of the Colloquim!
    How groovy would it be to have James MacMillan at next year's Colloquium to address the topic of composition in general? And, considering his new setting of the Ordinary, perhaps he could give a lecture about setting/implementing the new translations and new works?

    I think he would really dig what we are doing, too.
  • Yes, mon cher, it would be momentous to have the eminent Scots composer present. But, in truth, I think he, like all of us who've subjected our "selves" to the cleansing fire that is "The Sacred Treasury" would face the choice to yield our predipositions and our past "accomplishments" to the humility that purifies and defines the essence of the colloquium. We should all aspire to just be honestly who we are. AKA Mahrt.
    I know that McM has street cred as a parish musician; I didn't know that before. But he moves and has some amount of being in loftier atmospheres. I'm not prepared to throw my lot in with D. Thompsen that McM's opus will prove something significantly superior than St. Thomas More faire.
    I still long for simple humility present at a papal megaMass. If McM would get that from participating at a colloquium and use his cache of influence to effect that, then I'd say progress would be achieved.
  • I didn't know about the rarified air part...are you sure? But I think we could all learn from a great composer.
    CMAA strikes me as the kind of organization that can take in the renowned musician who walks in humble ascent to the Church's authentic vision of sacred music. I see no reason to separate ourselves from the great as long as we are truly fellow travelers in the Faith.

    McM seems like just another church musician, with serious composer cred. He is on the outs with most liturgical composers in the 'liturgical industrial complex'. Are we to leave someone like that only to secular academics, then?
    If FJ Haydn or Messaien were still roaming the earth, I'd dream of learning from them at the Colloquium, too. :)

    Your point about simple humility at a papal megaMass is well-taken. At least the McM ordinary is designed for parish use, and not merely a 'look what we Scots can produce' composition, though it might be big considering the size of the choir, etc. From reading the composer's statements, it seems like much recollection, sensitivity to the very different texts of the Ordinary, and a desire for timeless beauty fitting to praise God went into the setting. Judging
    from that alone, I have a hunch that McM would be at home in the Colloquiium atmosphere.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757
    I think it's possible to do old and new, and in the process actively encourage composition. More: it's desirable. If Perotin and others hadn't been allowed to adventure with organum, the Church might not have been able to come to recognise Renaissance polyphony as being of such value. For what it's worth, I've just got back from Spode Music Week (I'll take the Lord Sidcup jokes as read), where in addition to the daily chant and polyphony composers are actively encouraged and learned from. We sang two masses by contemporary composers, one a regular attendee (Dominic McGonigal) and the other a professional composer (Roxanna Panufnik - we sang her Westminster Mass yesterday). Five Compline settings by regular attendees were also sung, and we had a lecture from one of them. We're also commissioning two new liturgical works for our 60th anniversary in three years time, and as part of the deal the composers will visit and talk with us. It really can work if those involved are sensitive to the ethos and needs of the liturgy, as I'm sure is the case with the Colloquium.

    PS we also sang some Perotin! I'm afraid that, at the time of writing, I'm so exhausted that memory won't provide the details.
  • The Colloquium seems to be an event that is based upon exposing people at all levels to the historic forms of Catholic Church music rather than music of contemporary composers, aside from the single session of reading through new works.

    There just is not enough time in one week to approach new music.

    But you say, what about Kevin Allen? Kevin Allen has written music in a definite church style to that makes it fit into the Colloquium up there with the revered dead composers.
  • I'm a bit confused about characterizing composers as "professional".

    That would leave out one insurance agent from the mix.
  • Noel, I break out in "Ives" when you talk like that!
  • Lol, Charles!
    Ives could have relied on compositing for income, from what I understand.

    Composers we remember tend to be pros, though I didn't use that term. I don't think a pro composer is any more unusual than a pro singer or organist, etc. And of course the existence of pros doesn't rule out fine amateurs, either.
  • rob
    Posts: 148
    And, if the measure of a professional is receving due recompense for one's efforts, then aren't we all professionals since we hope, at least, to receive our reward in Heaven?
  • don roy
    Posts: 306
    i certainly hope so rob.
    my last royalty check (which i get about once a year) came to $2.23. I tried not to spend it in one place.
  • IanWIanW
    Posts: 757
    The context of my use of the P word was that we have new music from composers with a variety of ways of life - from course members who do other things for a living to those whose main work activity is composing; and this alongside daily chant, polyphony and more recent work. This happy spectrum is not just possible, but desirable. Admittedly, we manage it by virtue of the high standards of reading and experience amongst course members (who sang Messiaen's Sacramentum Concilium on about 15 minutes rehearsal this year), but in a larger gathering like the Colloquium it would be possible through specialisation and streaming (which I know you do). Just as the liturgy is a living, organic thing, so is the music that is an indisoluable part of it. That's how we have new music such as Monteverdi's Vespers of 1610 (much of which we also sang and played this year, both in and out of chapel).

    BTW - earlier this year I heard James MacMillan speak to performers of his music at rehearsal. He was the opposite of the self-consciously great man.

    PS - sorry for going on about Music Week. I'm still on a high. Only another 52 weeks to go. And I believe there is a connection - I believe David Bevan, who organised and directed music for the daily Masses this year, once wrote an item for Sacred Music.