The Holy Father Benedict XVI continues to “modify” things in Rome. This time it’s music.
When I was in Rome last year, my wife and I went to Vespers at St. Peter’s Basilica. I was disappointed. The choir was off, even dissonant. I had heard much better choral performances at my old Anglican parish. Worst of all, the piped the choir through speakers all throughout St. Peter’s so that a terrible multi-sourced echo reverberated in the Basilica. It seems that the Holy Father is taking his musical ear and making some changes. The following is from the Telegraph by Malcolm Moore:
Gregorian chant has been reinstituted as the primary form of singing by the new choir director of St Peter’s, Father Pierre Paul.
He has also broken with the tradition set up by John Paul II of having a rotating choir, drawn from churches all over the world, to sing Mass in St Peter’s.
The Pope has recently replaced the director of pontifical liturgical celebrations, Archbishop Piero Marini, with a man closer to his heart, Mgr Guido Marini. It is now thought he may replace the head of the Sistine Chapel choir, Giuseppe Liberto.
The International Church Music Review recently criticised the choir, saying: “The singers wanted to overshout each other, they were frequently out of tune, the sound uneven, the conducting without any artistic power, the organ and organ playing like in a second-rank country parish church.”
Mgr Valentin Miserachs Grau, the director of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, which trains church musicians, said that there had been serious “deviations” in the performance of sacred music.
“How far we are from the true spirit of sacred music. How can we stand it that such a wave of inconsistent, arrogant and ridiculous profanities have so easily gained a stamp of approval in our celebrations?” he said.
He added that a pontifical office could correct the abuses, and would be “opportune”. He said: “Due to general ignorance, especially in sectors of the clergy, there exists music which is devoid of sanctity, true art and universality.”
Hat tip to John Boyden in Rome.