Approximately 63 members of CRCCM met on Monday, January 6, 2003 at the Chase Park Plaza hotel in St. Louis for the 20th Gathering.  Host John Romeri opened the conference with a gracious welcoming statement and prayer.  A business meeting followed, beginning with the traditional reading of CRCCM’s Statement of Purpose and the introduction of attending members.  Steering Committee Chair Don Fellows noted that Frank Zajac has been appointed national Membership Chair, reminded members that the next Gathering will begin January 12, 2004, in Los Angeles, and invited John Romeri to outline the agenda for the 2003 conference.  James Savage spoke to the group regarding the need for CRCCM to become involved in discussions by the Bishops’ Committee on the Liturgy (BCL) of the criteria for determining “appropriate” musical texts and settings for the Mass.  Paul Monachino and Paul Hanebuth gave a Communications Committee update on the newsletter, membership directory, website, and list service.  The evening concluded with a generous reception hosted by Peter Bahou of Peter’s Way International.

Each morning of the week began for attendees with breakfast and Morning Prayer.  The breakfasts were hosted by Mark Lawson of MorningStar Music, Henry Glass of Mel Bay Music, Barbara Wick of Wicks Organ Co., and David Johnson of Concordia House, respectively.  The conference also enjoyed more wonderful refreshment throughout the week, courtesy of the Msgr. Vernon Gardin, rector, and the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis, the Benedictine Monastery of St. Mary/St. Louis, and John Walsh and the Wicks Organ Co.

Conference sessions began Tuesday morning with the first of three presentations on Gregorian chant by Fr. Daniel Saulnier of the Abbey of Solemes.  He traced the history of chant from the early church, through the 9th century dissemination of chant under the name of Pope Gregory, the reformation of church music at the Council of Trent, and the 17th century “revival” of chant, to the 19th century efforts of Dom Gueranger at Solesmes to restore the great body of lost chant.  At the second session, Rev. Paul Westermeyer of the Luther Seminary spoke on “Spirituality for the Cathedral Musician”.  He examined the role and responsibilities of musicians at cathedrals, within the Church generally, and, specifically, within the liturgy.  (Rev. Westermeyer has graciously agreed to make the text of his presentation available to members through the website - click here - and other means.)  After lunch, Dr. Michael McMahon, the president of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, discussed the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults.  He described the three periods the catechumen undergoes – precatechumenate, catechumenate, and purification and enlightenment – as well as the important liturgical events at the conclusion of each period.  For Session IV, Fr. Saulnier demonstrated modern performance of chant with widely varied examples, then rehearsed a CRCCM schola on the Communion Proper chant for Epiphany.  Tuesday concluded with the Brass Spectacular concert at St. Louis Cathedral.  Alison Luedecke Bob & Alison expertly utilized the full capabilities of the expansive organ, a large brass ensemble coordinated by Susan Slaughter and conducted by Karen Deal performed admirably, and John Romeri conducted the St. Louis Archdiocesan Choir with skill and expressivity.  The concert was programmed to take full advantage of the dynamic acoustic space; at times, choir, brass, and organ spoke from different points in the large Byzantine church, achieving an exciting antiphonal effect.  Robert Schaefer was pleasantly surprised by the performance of one of his works as an encore.

Catherine Vincie, RSHM, of Aquinas Institute began Wednesday’s sessions by sharing her reflections on the complex, dynamic, ecclesial, and evolving nature of the liturgy.  Then, Rev. Frank Quinn, OM, also of Aquinas Institute, gave a fast-paced multimedia presentation on the evolution of church architecture, from ancient Roman basilicas converted to liturgical use to the new cathedral in Los Angeles.  Rev. Quinn also examined musicians’ contribution to liturgical and theological development, using as examples the history of the practice of troping and theWurlitzer wide variation in hymn texts.  Later, the group traveled to the  Fox Theater for lunch and a demonstration of the mighty Wurlitzer by Stan Kann.  The afternoon also included demonstrations of the historic Pfeffer & Sons organ at St. Joseph’s Shrine by Chris Orf and of the new Mander organ at St. Peter’s Episcopal by Bill Aitken.  Martin Ott kindly held a reception and tour at his organ-building facility before Conference members traveled to the St. Anselm Abbey for another reception and dinner.  A performance by the sterling Archdiocesan Children’s Choir preceded evening prayer in the Abbey Church, which was followed by a stunning concert by the St. Louis Chamber Chorus.  The chorus, under the direction of Philip Barnes, sang major a capella works ranging chronologically from Heinrich Isaac to Arnold Schönberg, all performed with precision, intensity, and style.

Dr. McMahon began Thursday with an overview of the new General Instruction of the Roman Missal.  After explaining the background and general principles of the document, he examined the role of the psalmist, choir, organist/instrumentalists, and cantor/choir director in each segment of the Mass.  Don Fellows conducted a business meeting and encouraged discussion of plans for the 2004 Conference in Los Angeles and other future locations, including Omaha in 2005 and a possible European gathering.  The Steering Committee accepted nominations to fill the positions of Matthew Walsh and James Savage, whose terms end this year.  Treasurer Lee Gwozdz presented his report on the group’s financial status.  The group also discussed expanding CRCCM’s suggested repertoire list, which was edited by Richard Proulx, and developing a method for CRCCM to make meaningful contributions to BCL discussions, specifically those regarding approval of texts and musical settings for the Mass.  Thursday afternoon was spent in the Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis; Dr. Charles Callahan, consultant for the decade-long renovation of the cathedral’s organ, shared his thoughts on organ requirements in cathedral spaces.  Then, the group read anthems by member composers Brian Luckner, Glenn Osbourne, Johannes Somary, and Robert Schaefer.  After a tour of the cathedral, conducted by Fr. Tom Molini, and a reception, the group celebrated Mass in the sanctuary of the cathedral.  banquetDr. Callahan played a short recital as prelude to the Mass, Msgr. Vernon Gardin presided, and Msgr. James Telthorst, a former rector, was the superb homilist.  Conference attendees concluded the day by dining on filet mignon at a sumptuous banquet in the Empire Room of the Chase Park Plaza.  St. Louis Archbishop Justin Rigali presided over the meal.

Fr. Saulnier concluded his chant presentations Friday morning by sharing his vision of the future of chant.  Kevin Vogt likewise spoke of the future in his discussion of the aspirations of the newly-formed North American Schola Cantorum Network.  Dennis McManus gave what was probably the most entertaining presentation of the week in his report from the BCL.  He enumerated some new, exciting developments in American liturgy and enthusiastically endorsed the appointment of Cardinal Arinze as the new prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.  Then, the Gathering concluded with a Ritual of Departure, although a few members extended the conference by attending a tour of the Wicks organ factory, courtesy of Barbara Wick.

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