CNS FILE PHOTO | GREGORY SHEMITZ
The Church has a rich tradition of bringing beauty into the liturgy through music.
DERWENT - In response to the revised translation of the Mass, many Catholic choirs have responded with musical arrangements that embrace the Church's past.
Alexander McCune of Edmonton is program assistant at an upcoming summer music program in Derwent. He finds a growing movement among younger people to imbue older music into worship, pre-1970s music, before guitars became common in the Church.
Sacred music is impossible to sing, McCune said, without being drawn to what is behind it. "You cannot deny the fact that this music is contemplative and glorious. It draws you in and puts you in a prayerful, worshipful mood."
Based in a tranquil setting outside of Derwent, Living Water College of the Arts is offering Sacred Polyphony, a 12-day summer music program, Aug. 6-19.
Between 15 and 25 students will learn the rich liturgical tradition of Church choral music. They will discover the works of the classical composers, including Schubert's Mass in G and Vivaldi's Gloria. They will also receive training in polyphony and Gregorian chant.
"Pope Benedict has been calling us to make our liturgical expression more beautiful," said Deacon Ken Noster, president and director of Living Water. "The Church has a great history of bringing beauty into liturgy."
Leading the program is fine arts instructor, Maestro Uwe Lieflander, who has over three decades of experience in performance and pedagogy as an instrumentalist and choral conductor.
Lieflander is the founder and director of the Ontario Sacred Music Society. He is best known for conducting the 500-strong choir at the massive World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002.
"His greatest gift to the Church for the past 30 years is that he can take an ordinary choir and make them sound extraordinary," said McCune.
Lieflander works with people from all ranges of musical experience. Likewise, the sacred choral music program will provide individual vocal coaching at all levels, from novice to professional.
"People who are beginners will still get a great deal out of the program. They will probably get the most out of it because they will have the most to gain," said Noster.
Noster guarantees that students will leave the program singing better, with the strong possibility of widening their other musical talents as well.
"Depending what their background and their interest is, they're going to at least have individual coaching in technique and broadening their abilities, stretching their range, helping them with intonation and voice quality," said Noster.
McCune agrees the students will gain greater command of their voices.
"Most important, they will leave with a greater vision of what Church music can be, a vision that encompasses all of our history and our present, Gregorian chants as well as music written in the 20th century," said McCune.
"They will be able to make informed, wise decisions on which music to use in worship."
Also teaching in the program is Sean Collins, a liberal arts instructor from Thomas Aquinas College in California. He has degrees in philosophy but is a skilled musician as well.
Collins will teach on the impact that music has on an individual, music's historical implications, and will provide students with a better sense of music's place in liturgy and in life.
The program is a spiritual retreat. Aside from music instruction supported by lectures, every day will feature Mass, as well as Morning and Evening Prayer.
Quiet, reflective time in the rural beauty surrounding the college complements the program's rich experiences.
"I think the students will go back home and they won't be able to get the smile off their faces for two or three months," said Noster.
The course will culminate with a final concert and a sung Mass at St. Joseph's Basilica.