Category Archives: Travel

Palm Sunday At Last!

The journey through Lent has finally brought us to Palm Sunday.  The 11 o’clock Mass at the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Augustine started outside with our bishop, Felipe Estevez and the Cathedral clergy, Knights of Columbus, St. Augustine’s Royal Family, and a huge church-full of worshippers.  The Passion was read well and the Cathedral choir did their best.  Of course, the mighty Casavant organ was in top form.  And wait, I almost forgot the Blessing of the Fleet that followed.  Everything from tiny pleasure craft to shrimp boats to our own Black Raven faux pirate ship!

Coming up for me is Holy Week in Spain – Madrid, to be precise.  Looking forward to processions, liturgies, and music.  Also great museums, food, and a side trip (I hope) to Avila.

London Christmas, Musical Moments

Back from a splendid holiday in London.  Yes, it was soggy and it did seem to get dark awfully early.  However, there were always museums to visit and pubs to warm up in.

The best part – three splendid liturgies and a wonderful carol service.  At Westminster Cathedral and the London Oratory, music is important.  And they obviously put their money were their mouths are (to use an odd phrase).  When you get the best in directors, singers, and organists and when you recognize that the Church’s treasury of sacred music actually belongs in the churches, the result is astonding.  And I felt that it was also appreciated.

One of the sad results of the gutting of both church music and music education in this country is the loss of repertoire and the loss of understanding.  Most churches are just fine with music that is mediocre at best.  And the congregations feel the same way.  Many music directors know little about sacred music beyond the boundaries of their hymnals and whatever the “Big Three” publishers promote.  (The latter will not, needless to say, be in the public domain.)  Catholics (or anyone else) who’ve never learned to read music or sang in a chorus or choir that “did parts” are often indifferent to the music at Mass.

What did I hear in London?  Among other things, I heard chant that moved with energy and sureness.  I heard wonderful intonation and diction.  The Haydn Missa Nicolai at midnight at the Cathedral; the Mozart “Sparrow Mass” at the Oratory the next day.  The carol service featured both old and new music, with all the good stuff for the congregations to join in on.  And join they did!  And a nice tune for “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” during Communion at Midnight Mass that I didn’t recognize.

And yes, “Once in royal David’s city” always makes me weep.

All the Saints of Paris

This charming video from the Fraternities Monastiques de Jerusalem is a Paris-specific litany of the saints, accompanied by architecture, stained glass, and other splendors.  Enjoy it as a “warm-up” to the Solemnity of All Saints tomorrow.  And why not be a saint yourself?  Or at least enjoy the riches of FMJweb. Born out of the tumult of the late 60’s, the Fraternity has always appreciated and exercised the attractive power of beauty in music and art.  Deo gratias!

Cimbalom Playing at a Paprika Festival

Sometimes you just need to lighten up.  And what better way than listening to music at a Paprika Festival.  You have to hang in there until the cimbalom player strolls in, sits down, and starts wailing away on his instrument.  There’s a charming casual air to the video since everyone keeps walking in from on the camera, carrying little cups of who-knows-what.

The cimbalom is the distinguished European ancestor of my hammered dulcimer, even if it rather looks like a piano with the top removed and features dampers.

You’ll have to go find your own goulash to accompany the music!  Or plan on getting to the next festival.

Musical Delights Enjoyed and Anticipated

The last two days have been lovely – an evening event at Tolomato Cemetery in St. Augustine allowed me to wander through the 18th century on my harp.  “Permanent residents” of the historic cemetery include Irish priests and workers, English and Scottish, Menorcans and Spanish.  So there was room for Carolan, Handel, Robert Burns, The Grenedier and the Lady, Green Bushes, Avon Water, the Arran Boat Song, and She Moved Through the Fair, to name a few.  Also my advantageous position near a citronella torch kept most gnats at bay.

This morning I taught a workshop on Singing the Psalms at the new Villa Flora-Brown Hall Renewal Center, run by my dear Sisters of St. Joseph of St. Augustine.  We had about 14 in attendance.  After the brief history of the psalms and chant, they put their feet on the floor, took a deep breath and began to sing.  From a single-note recto tono, they worked their way up to a nice chant on Tone 8g (antiphon stayed on straight tone) in two choirs.   What a delight!

After enjoying some musket fire at the Battle of Bloody Mose, I have started the final preparations for my Colloquium trek.  And so looking forward to it!

The Most Fun You Could Have in Salt Lake City – CMAA Colloquium XXII

If you’re sitting on the fence about this conference, it’s time to hop off and register now!  From June 25th to July 1st, you can sing chant, polyphony, enjoy concerts and workshops, network, eat and drink with like-minded lovers of sacred music.  Look at all there is to do:

And still be home for the Fourth of July!

Don’t ask yourself about its practical value or fret that there is no place in your home territory for great music.  Come and enjoy!  And you may find yourself inspired to start a schola in your living room.  In any event, your own musical life will be enriched.

As Philip said to Nathanael, “Come and see!”  I’ll be looking for you.

Melville Dewey in Florida

I’m preparing for my annual trip to Ave Maria University for the Musica Sacra Florida Chant Conference.  This entails a lengthy drive down the midsection of Florida (of which there is a great deal).  A memorable moment along the way is always Lake Placid, the Caladium Capitol of the World.  (The Caladium Festival is the last full weekend in August, if you want to plan for it.)

As a former library administrator, imagine my surprise when I found that the one and only Melville Dewey (yes, the Dewey Decimal System) played a leading role in the town’s history.  Here’s a bit from the Chamber of Commerce website:

By 1926 the Florida building boom resulted in tourists flocking to the town and businesses sprang up everywhere. In 1927 Dr. Melvil Dewey, creator of the Dewey Decimal System for cataloging library books, arrived in the area. Finding the locale remarkably similar to his native Lake Placid, N.Y. due to the lakes, Dr. Dewey had visions of a resort town as the semitropical branch of the Lake Placid Club in the Adirondack Mountains, which he had formed in 1893. Dewey’s first move was to open a 100 room hotel in mid-town for wealthier tourists and then to build a three hotel complex collectively called the Lake Placid Loj – the spelling the result in Dewey’s simplified spelling approach. The Loj is the present site of the Lake Placid Conference Center. In 1927, at Dewey’s urging, the town’s named was changed to Lake Placid by legislative act and has remained so to this day.