28 December 2006

Christmas with the Chieftains

From the 1991 recording "The Bells of Dublin" (keep a lookout for a whole row of harpers).

P.S. Happy Birthday to me! It's hard to believe I'm 22.

26 December 2006

New Jersey High Schoolers to Perform for Pope

Here's a clip from CBS news. Fr. Brian Muzas and his high school choir have been working hard to prepare for their trip to Rome. I know they would appreciate your prayers that their voices will be sweet and their travels safe.
St. Stephen's Day

Today is the feast of St. Stephen--happy feast day to all the Stephens and Stephanies out there!

There is a tradition of hunting the wren on St. Stephen's day in the British Isles. Here are a song, a parody of that song, and another song.

Also, here's a wren:

21 December 2006

A Little Christmas Cheer from Steeleye Span

15 December 2006

Education and the Lack Thereof

As I corrected exams this week, I came across some amazingly bad grammar and spelling, in addition to the usual mistakes that students make. Varèse became "Verez," "minimalism" was re-spelled as "minimalizm," and a different student wrote "boltz." There were some sentences that made little sense: I think one said something like "Ruth Crawford her husband promoted total serialism for the time then they turned to doing folk music." A couple of our students are from foreign countries, but these particular offenders are native English speakers.

What is going on in our schools?

I knew it was bad, and I knew that students could graduate from high school and still barely be able to read or write. I didn't know that they'd make it as far as being juniors at a relatively prestigious university and still not be able to spell a plural word or write coherent complex sentences. I begin to understand why the profs I had as an undergrad thought I was a pretty good student: I come to class, pay attention, and can spell. Not only can I spell English words, I can even spell the names of French composers!

One of the professors at the grading party pointed out that these students are admitted because they can play their instruments well, not because they can write. I said, "But they're juniors! Didn't anyone make them take English Composition 101, or Logic 101 for that matter?" To which said professor replied, "You're thinking like a student from a liberal arts school. You're in the school of music now." People, send your kids to liberal arts schools if you can. If you're sending them to a school of music or something like that, make sure that they can read and write before you send them, because they won't learn it there. Music history teachers are going to try and teach performance students how to write, but ultimately, our subject is a hard sell and there's only so much we can do beyond saying, "Learn to spell, because someday you'll be writing your own program notes. Your computer's spellcheck will tell you that 'serialism' is spelled wrong, and you're going to need to know that it's right."

Also, you're going to be writing a cover letter when you apply for a job.

03 December 2006

Too Much Organ

When I began singing with the Gregorian Schola at Gonzaga, I realized that my life in sacred music was changed forever--I could never go back.

Well, in some ways I have gone back--my mind and heart may be chanting, but my voice is once again singing "Mass of Creation." I put up with the schlock because the choir sings lovely things too--pieces of genuinely good choral literature appear at the offertory and communion--but today I felt that the "lovely music" was extraordinarily out of place. Often we sing Renaissance motets that are unaccompanied, which would have been perfect. But today we sang J.S. Bach's Wachet Auf (in English translation) and H. H. Parry's I Was Glad, both of which involve long organ interludes. The organ part in the Parry (well, the whole piece, really) is positively bombastic. It would have been great last week, for Christ the King, but was totally inappropriate for what should have been the quiet solemnity of the First Sunday of Advent.

I know that in places with professional organists, the budget committees would balk at paying them full rates for not working during Advent and Lent, and it wouldn't exactly be fair to the organists to tell them to buzz off for a month without pay. Also, many choirs and cantors are not as well-trained as we could wish and not capable of singing well without accompaniment (which, to be fair, is difficult even for well-trained singers). Still, if we must have organ music during Lent, it should be in the background, quietly supporting the singing, and not showing off and nearly blasting us out of our seats (save that for Easter, maybe?).

I'm more than usually disappointed in my choir director's choice of music today. But at least there is a politic route open to me to prevent this happening in future: the choir director has asked me to bring any music from my past repertoire that I really liked to him, and that he would consider it for the choir. I've already started planning for Lent--I'm going to mention the Anerio Christus factus est, Distler's From Depths of Woe, and at least one of the Palestrina offertories. Yes, I know the text of From Depths of Woe is proper to a Sunday late in Ordinary time and not to Lent, but the sentiment seems appropriate and since he doesn't care one iota about proper texts, we can at least get the most apt alius cantus aptus that we can.

Further suggestions of good a cappella Lenten repertoire would be welcome.

30 November 2006

St. Andrew's Day

A blessed St. Andrew's Day to you all! May God especially bless a particular Andrew of my acquaintance whose first-born came into the world this week, and his wife whose birthday is today.

And also, may God bless Scotland and Russia! Russia, especially, needs our prayers.

Don't forget to start your St. Andrew's novena today:

"Hail and blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God was born of the most pure Virgin Mary at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold. In that hour, vouchsafe O my God to hear my prayer and grant my desires, through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of His Blessed Mother. Amen."

(It is piously believed that whoever recites the above prayer fifteen times a day from the feast of St. Andrew (30th November) until Christmas will obtain what is asked.)

23 November 2006

Not that Henry VIII

If you're not familiar with the song "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am," then go listen to the original music-hall version from 1911, and then watch the cute and dorky Herman's Hermits perform their version on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1965. Some British music for your Thanksgiving :)

15 November 2006

A Prayer Request

The novices of the Oregon Province of the Jesuits are currently on their 30-day silent retreat, ending December 3, the Feast of St. Francis Xavier. Please keep them and all the Jesuits in their prayers.

08 November 2006

Shuffle 2

This week's random playlist:

1. "Sentimental Journey" Doris Day
2. "Sympathique" Pink Martini
3. "Die Entzukung" F.X. Mozart, sung by Barbara Bonney
4. "The Wind that Shakes the Barley/Dusk among the Willows" Grey Larsen and Paddy League
5. "Lux polis refulgens, lux et gloria" Anonymous 4
5. "Etude Op. 25" Unknown, played by Elizabeth Hainen (harp)
6. "Simple Gifts" Arr. Rene Clausen, sung by Gonzaga University Choir
7. "Cadwith Anthem" Steeleye Span
8. "If Wishes were Horses" Robbie O'Connell
9. "Valse in D flat Major" Chopin, played by Istvan Szekely
10. "Beat of Your Heart" Hayley Westenra

06 November 2006

Move Over, Spem in Alium

Forget Spem, forget Striggio's Ecce beatam lucem--there's a new 40-part piece in town, thought to have been lost for centuries. The piece is Striggio's Missa sopra Ecco si beato giorno, recently rediscovered by UC Berkeley's Davitt Moroney. It's been sitting in the Biblotheque National in Paris for ages, mis-catalogued. The final Agnus Dei is actually in sixty parts, and the entrance of each choir is in stretto. The piece is probably the most complex in all the polyphonic liturature. I got to see a facsimile of the manuscript yesterday when Dr. Moroney presented a paper about his discovery at the American Musicological Society conference here in Los Angeles. No one has performed it yet, but I bet it's amazing.

Hopefully Dr. Moroney will publish a paper on it soon. It would be great if I could tell you the whole story of this fantastic composition--involving Striggio, his master Francesco di Medici, Archduke Maximilian II, Albrecht V of Bavaria, the King of France, the Queen of England, and a midwinter trek over the Alps--but I'm sure I wouldn't get the chain of events quite right.

31 October 2006

All Hallow's Eve

I thought it would be funny to "carve" an angel with a harp onto a "pumpkin." Here's the screenshot of my virtual carved pumpkin:

Not too bad. Have a wonderful Feast of All Saints tomorrow!

Random Playlist of the Week:

1. "Spanish Flea" Herb Albert
2. "A New Year Carol" Anonymous 4
3. "The Gay Old Hag" Robbie O'Connell
4. "Stairway to the Stars" Ella Fitzgerald
5. "Orange Colored Sky" Nat King Cole
6. "Royal Forester" Steeleye Span
7. "Far from the Home I Love" Fiddler on the Roof, Original London Cast Recording
8. "St. Patrick's Breastplate" The Seminarians of St. Patrick's College, Maynooth
9. "Western Highway" Muireann Nic Amhlaoibh
10. "You Rascal You" Louis Armstrong

The rules, for bloggers who want to play:

Get your ipod or media-player of choice, select your whole music collection, set the thing to shuffle (i.e., randomized playback), then post the first ten songs that come out. No cheating, no matter how stupid it makes you feel! Maybe link the songs to online music stores for readers' convenience.

(As seen on Dappled Things)

16 October 2006


I'm not sure how else I could have titled my post, because "Eeeeee!" is the best word I can find to describe how I feel right now. My sweetheart and I are engaged to be married. The wedding will probably be in January 2008, in Spokane (we had discussed Rome, but have dismissed that plan as too expensive). Hopefully the Gonzaga Schola will be able to sing for us, and if not, we will still have a chanted Mass, since we will have a priest who will sing, and at least two friends who can chant the Propers and the readings.

My engagement ring is yellow gold with three tiny diamond chips on each side of an oval sapphire--the sapphire is so dark that some have asked if it is an opal, and the lady at the jewelry store said it wasn't the highest quality stone, but I like it. It was from the estate jewelry section, because all the new sapphires were in white gold, and amazingly, it didn't need to be resized. I tried to take a picture of it so I could show the whole world, but my camera doesn't seem to want to focus tonight. I am extremely proud of my pretty ring and even more proud of what it symbolizes.

In other news, I have decided to not to take the job at the Catholic elementary school. Upon further consideration, it seems as if it will take too much time away from my studies, and the idea of standing up in front of a class full of small children is too intimidating--two or three small children is about all I'm equipped to handle at one time. In the excitement of the prospect of having a job, I nearly forgot that. But better job prospects will come along.

In the meantime, Eeeeee!

09 October 2006

Prayer Request

I have a job interview on Wednesday for a position as a part-time music teacher at a Catholic elementary school--the duties mainly consist of preparing the students for school liturgies. I am not really worried about whether I get the job or not, since at the moment I don't need the money; I want the job because I think it is an opportunity to expose children from a poorer community to good music, especially good Catholic music. I ask you to pray that if I get the job, the school administration will allow me to choose truly Catholic music for these children to sing.

I know that I will have to go in baby steps, but I hope this works out.

07 October 2006

Upcoming Film

I don't recall seeing anything about The Nativity Story (New Line Cinema, due to be released this December) written about in the blogosphere. Does anyone know anything about it?

04 October 2006

Still More on the Conference

Shawn Tribe over at The New Liturgical Movement has posted a report that I wrote about the conference. Some of it is identical to what's posted here, but some is a bit different.

30 September 2006

Your Saturday Evening Humor

Go read Gadfly's comment on the most recent post at Sacred Miscellany.

I just know I'll be thinking about this during Mass tomorrow morning, imagining my choir director saying it (in his very proper British accent), and trying very hard not to giggle.

28 September 2006

Pride of Place: Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy
Mundelein, 2006, Part II

In Part I below, I talked a little about Mass and Vespers and social gathering, but for those who don't have a clue about the subject matter, the meat if you will, of the conference was about, I suppose I ought to flesh out my tale.

In the morning, there were two workshops that folks could attend. Margaret and I were in charge of the session aimed at beginners, and we do mean beginners. We started off with a primer on chant notation and modes, went over the tones for the Mass and the readings, and taught three sets of Ordinaries--the three that the Gonzaga Schola use for Mass: the first was the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from the Requiem Mass with Kyrie from Mass XVI and Gloria from Mass VIII, the second was Mass XI with Kyrie B, and the third was Mass XVII with Kyrie C). When Dr. Schaefer put together the materials for the Chant Mass at Gonzaga, he chose settings that he thought people would be likely to have heard/know, if they were at all familiar with chant. If three settings seems like very little for a really good Schola, remember that Gonzaga's Schola only sings for Sundays during the school year--the only major feast on their calendar is Easter, and they do a polyphonic ordinary for that. They don't sing for any Marian feasts, or during Christmas, and only a few Sundays of the Easter season.

Dr. Schaefer talked about the chants of Holy Week with the more advanced group of musicians. He also taught them to sing the Gradual for that week, and a brave soul volunteered to sing the verse. Beyond that, I have little idea of what they discussed.

Monday and Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning, both groups met together and Dr. Schaefer lectured. Margaret and I provided occasional musical support for examples. We spent most of Monday afternoon going through Vespers so that everyone would be able to sing along, and would know when to stand, sit, bow, and all that good stuff. In relation to this, we also discussed psalm tones.

On Tuesday afternoon, the Liturgical Institute's Fr. Martis came to talk about the forthcoming Mundelein Psalter (he led the conference participants in Morning Prayer from the Psalter each morning of the conference). The Mundelein Psalter uses the modern format of the Liturgy of the Hours, encompassing Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Night Prayer. Everything will be contained in one 1200-page hardbound volume (with 3 ribbons! as Fr. Martis excitedly pointed out), and is due to be available in February. Everything is set to music using St. Meinrad tones by Samuel Weber, though he also said something about someone from St. Cecilia's in Omaha writing more "exciting" music for the antiphons (which are currently set to the same psalm tones as the psalm). I am not sure whether the more elaborate antiphons will be in the book or not. The book is all in English. Personally, I don't like the new LotH, and if I made a habit of saying the Office I'd use the old version. It seems like it will be a good resource for people who are less experienced with chant who would like to sing the Liturgy of the Hours.

On Wednesday morning, we talked about resources for chant and also for polyphony. CanticaNova received several mentions, as did Choral Public Domain Library, the Solesmes books of course, many of which are available through GIA, and also the Missa Cantata book and other resources available through Dr. Schaefer's Priory Press. Dr. Schaefer discussed the pros and cons of the Graduale Simplex and By Flowing Waters.

At Dr. Schaefer's suggestion, copies of my thesis were sold for $5 apiece. I'm not sure how many copies he brought, maybe 6, 10 at the most, but they were all sold. My thesis is titled "The Motets of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina in Contemporary Liturgy" and deals mostly with Palestrina's Offertory motets on Proper Offertory texts, of which there are 68. They are all in 5 parts, and 58 of them are SATTB. I arranged two of the motets for SAATB as an example of how the others might be arranged, since I know that many parish choirs these days don't have enough tenors to divide the section, but frequently have enough women to cover three parts. Also included are two tables lining up Palestrina's Offertories with the Sundays and Feasts for which they are Proper, since some of the Propers were shifted after Vatican II, and the Sundays were renamed which might cause confusion for someone not familiar with the old system (i.e. Sundays After Pentecost); one table is arranged by Sunday/Feast date in chronological order, and the other is arranged by motet in alphabetical order. If you think you would find the tables, the arrangements, or the whole thesis useful, feel free to email me and I will make it available to you. The whole paper (which is about 50 pages) I will only send out by snail mail for the cost of copying and mailing, but the table I will email for free as a Word file, and the arrangements I will email for free as a Finale file or snail mail for the cost of mailing--I am not interested in making a profit off this particular project, but merely in making it easier for singers to use the music in the Liturgy.

Dr. Schaefer and I were somewhat disappointed in the reaction of many of the conference when asked what they thought they might take back to their parishes out of all this. About six of the 35 people had had to leave already, and I would have been very interested in what they might have had to say about it, but those who remained mostly seemed to have missed the most important point we had tried to get across. Maybe we didn't stress it enough.

The point was this: SING THE MASS. Don't just sing at the Mass. If all you're doing is singing at the Mass, even the most beautiful of the chants will seem somewhat out of context, and people will subconsciously pick up on that and it will always be a little uncomfortable. To go from chant back to normal speech is jarring, and the more the choir chants, the more jarring the experience of the Mass will be because of the number of transitions. Chant-to-chant is not so startling. The choir directors mostly seemed worried about whether their choir would be able to sing an Introit and whether they might be better off singing the English entrance antiphon set to a psalm tone, and whether their congregation would or wouldn't pick up a chanted Gloria. What they should have been worried about was how to get the priest to sing the orations, the canon, and everything else--English or Latin, take your pick. Possibly how to train lectors to sing the readings (the two places I've been to where the Pauline Mass is chanted in Latin have the readings spoken in the vernacular--I was told that their "liturgical sensibilities" didn't allow for chanting in the vernacular. Mine do, and I suspect so do yours, so sing the readings). In case you missed it the first time, I'll say it again: SING THE MASS.

26 September 2006

It's Hard to Type...
...when you're laughing hysterically.

Just look at the subtitle. Yes, it does actually say "Crotch Chant."

It took me a minute to realize that this is obviously a misprint, and the composer's last name is Cotch, but it's got to be one of the funniest misprints I've seen in a long time.

Wide-brimmed straw hat tip to CatholicNerd for digging this up.

25 September 2006


Amy Welborn was in my hometown, which is really cool, although it would have been much cooler if I had been there too.

But apparently Cardinal Mahoney was there, too. Why??? It's bad enough that I have to live in his archdiocese, why does he have to go visiting my hometown, too? This makes me nervous. Blog, Amy, blog! I really want to know what he was doing there.

24 September 2006

Sunday Humor

What do you call a program featuring pieces by Ligeti at the beginning and end?
Ligeti split.

When my alarm went off this morning it turned on the radio and there was an announcement that some pianist somewhere was performing something by Ligeti--so forgive me, I made this up as soon as I woke up this morning.

21 September 2006

Pride of Place: Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy
Mundelein, 2006

This is the chapel where we sang Vespers each evening and had Mass. The ceiling is plaster, so the reverberation is amazing--5 seconds definitely, maybe more. The organ is quite nice, as well; one of the music directors in attendance favored us with his playing for two of the Masses and the processions at one evening's Vespers. The decoration on the interior is pretty, though a bit 19th-century-ball-room for my taste.
The first Vespers was a bit of a shock for some of the folks in attendance, I think. We did it monastic-style, all chanted, in Latin except for the psalm verses. We processed, there was incense, the whole 9 yards. Most of the conference attendants couldn't figure out when they were supposed to sing, and a few had trouble with the Latin. We sang the same Vespers every evening (Sunday Vespers) so that people could get used to the form without having to process new psalms as well, and by Tuesday evening everyone was singing along and bowing at the right times.
If Sunday night's Vespers service was a shock to some, then the Mass on Monday was really a culture shock. It was like all the chant Masses at Gonzaga, with the exception of several concelebrating priests and a chapel with great acoustics. This means that the only thing not chanted was the homily. The readings, the Eucharistic prayer, everything was chanted. The Propers and Ordinaries, and the Pater Noster with its surrounding dialogue were in Latin, but everything else was in English. Fr. Matis of the Liturgical Institute was the main celebrant. The Masses on Tuesday and Wednesday were celebrated by two priests who were attendents at the conference, both of whom were quite young, around 30 years old.

This is the view that presents itself if you stand in the same location from which I took the first photo and simply turn around.

This is the cafeteria, or refectory if you prefer. Some excellent conversations were had here.

The residence hall which now houses the offices of the Liturgical Institute, a chapel, and the rooms where those attending conferences stay. There is a common room on the main floor which was the sight of many a piano tune and good joke, as well as more excellent conversations. Two examples:
Sister M. told the following:
The air conditioning in one of the rooms in heaven has broken down really badly, and God wants an engineer to fix it. He looks around, but can't find any engineers in heaven, so He calls down to Hell and says, "Satan, send up one of your engineers." Satan says, "No way. They're mine, and you can't have them. God says, "But I really need an engineer to fix the air conditioning." Satan says, "Nope. They came to me, and I'm keepin' 'em." God gets a bit angry and says, "I'm going to sue you!" Satan just laughs and says, "Oh yeah? Where you gonna get a lawyer?"

I had a talk with Fr. M which began with trading vocation stories. (Mine was considerably briefer than his, but I didn't mind as he's a decent storyteller.) In the course of the conversation about that, he mentioned that he had attended Princeton and Cal Tech and had a Master's degree in aerospace engineering. He said that at one of the schools (I don't remember which), the computers in the lab would sometimes produce and error message that said, "Magic Function Error." One of his schoolmates said, "What, are we supposed to give it burnt offerings?" I asked whether it might be possible to rig a computer to accept burnt offerings and identify the correct type of smoke. He said one could conceivably rig a smoke detector to detect specific kinds of smoke and then hook the smoke detector up to the computer. At this point, Fr. A chimed in, saying, "Abel. Computer rebooting." One wouldn't want to get a message that said "Cain."

Fr. M, if you're reading this, Mass yesterday was lovely! I'm sorry I couldn't stick around long enough to tell you in person.
The conference was fantastic. More in the next couple of days, including a few pictures (though not of people, because I didn't ask their permission to post them).

15 September 2006

Classmate Quote

I was talking about chant with one of my schoolmates yesterday. She mentioned that she was having a bit of trouble with listening to the chants and early polyphony for her medieval music class. She asked how I was doing in my 15th century counterpoint and improvisation class, and I said I loved it, that I was having lots of fun with the music. She was a little surprised, and I said, well, I sang chant for about four hours a week for four years, so modal music seems pretty normal to me.

To which she replied, "So, this is like tonal music for you."

Um, yeah, actually. Which probably explains a little of why I'm having a hard time with some things in music theory that I didn't have a hard time with the first time around (though some of it is just that my brains are leaking out my ears). I still like tonal music, but the more time I spend with modal music, the more strange classical, tonal music begins to sound. Funny how that works.

12 September 2006

Church Search

Well, I've pretty much ended my parish search. I didn't find a place that does chant, but I did find a place where the choir is pretty decent and they sing mostly decent music. Last week we sang some unmemorable processional and recessional hymns and Christopher Walker's Gaelic Mass (when I see that title, I always want to ask why it's not in Gaelic--Irish or Scottish--if it's the Gaelic Mass?), but also the Agnus Dei from Palestrina's Missa Tu es Petrus, Herbert Howell's "Like as a Hart," and Byrd's "Civitatis sancti tui" (or civitatis something or other, anyway, about the destruction of Jerusalem).

The organist is more than competent, and as he's a countertenor, he sings alto on the motets. He has kindly agreed to give me lessons, quoting a much better price than I'd pay at the school, plus I'm probably going to get to practice at the church, and I'll have no competitors for practice time other than the daily Masses and school Masses and occasional weddings and funerals. I haven't examined the organ yet so I don't know what I'll have to work with, other than that it has real pipes, is as close to in tune as one can expect an organ to be, and can make a really big sound--meaning it's probably going to give me a lot more practice with registration than the practice organ at Gonzaga or even the one here would.

The parish is staffed by the Paulist Fathers. Like most religious-order-run parishes, this means that you never quite know what you're going to get at Mass or hear in a homily. The church building is also pretty ugly, though the stained glass windows are all right. The east wall of the church looks like concrete with bits of broken, colored glass embedded in it, giving a bizarre glittering effect that I don't like and don't understand the point of. But, I apparently can't expect everything. I can have either a pretty church, or pretty music, or a really good homilist, so I went for the one with the music, because bad music is much, much more annoying to me than the rest.

09 September 2006

I Can't Believe I Missed It!

No, not the feast of the birth of Our Lady. I knew that, just couldn't be bothered to blog about it. What I missed was that the 40th anniversary of Star Trek was yesterday!

Happy Birthday, Star Trek!

07 September 2006


I recently participated in a discussion about the theology surrounding the Roman Catholic marriage rite, somewhat in comparison to the Eastern rite and their understanding of what happens therein. I find that my education on the subject of the Roman Catholic ceremony is somewhat lacking!

Questions that came up included:
1. If the couple are the ministers of the sacrament, how does the priestfit in? Is he just a witness on behalf of the Church, or is there more to his role?

2. In the pre-Vatican II rite, the priest said, Ego conjugo vos in matrimonium, in Nomine Patris,etc. In the post-V2 version, the priest says, Hunc vestrum consénsum, quem coram Ecclésia manifestástis, Dóminus benígne confírmet et benedictiónem suam in vobis implére dignétur. Quod Deus coniúngit, homo non séparet. or Hunc vestrum. consénsum, quem coram Ecclésia manifestástis, Deus Abraham, Deus Isaac, Deus Iacob, Deus qui protoplástos coniúnxit in paradíso, in Christo, confírmet ac benedícat, ut quod ipse coniúngit, homo non séparet. So, the priest speaks in the first person in the old version, and in the new version he does not. Does this represent an alteration in theology, since the first would seem to imply that the priest (in persona Christi?) has some role in joining the couple, yet that is not the Western understanding as outlined in the present Catechism, or are the new words better at not muddling the theology of the sacrament?

3. Finally, has anyone written a decent essay or book on the theology of the marriage ceremony? There's so much out there on marriage, but I've hardly seen anything about the liturgy with which all Catholic marriages commence.

I've not had too much luck with queries here in the past, and if I don't get many responses, I'll ask someone with a more popular blog to post it as well.

02 September 2006

Don't Forget!

The Chant Conference at the Liturgical Institute at Mundelein Seminary is coming up! If you always wanted to learn to sing chant, or have been wanting to learn more, this is a great opportunity.

Besides which, you'll get to meet me, and I'll get to meet you.

30 August 2006

Reason #14 To Love Grad School

Today, we improvised simple fauxbourdon on Virgo virginum praeclara in the class I'm taking on 15th Century Counterpoint and Improvisation. Next week, we learn about the differences between French fauxbourdon and English faburden. (I didn't know until today that they were two different things!) Also, I got to sing some Bolivian baroque music this afternoon, accompanied by some period-correct instruments.

23 August 2006

Airline Restrictions Terrible For Musicians

This article from the BBC details difficulties faced by musicians travelling with instruments because of the new safety restrictions.

I feel their pain. In the past I've travelled with my Celtic harp, and it's too big even to buy a seat on the plane for, let alone stow under the seat, so I had to check it. No one will insure an instrument in the baggage compartment of an airplane, even if any high-quality instrument were really replaceable. My harp was damaged on two occasions, thankfully only cosmetic and not too hard to repair, but the airlines would not accept responsibility for the cost of repairs--and yes, my instrument was in a $2,000 rigid travelling case. Incidentally, I left one harp at our vacation home in NY and brought the case back empty. The case arrived in California with the top completely smashed in, which would have amounted to a $10,000 loss if my harp had been inside. I'm glad I don't make my livelihood as a performer, because there's no way I'd take my harp on a plane again, and I'm wary of normal shipping companies after having a horrible experience four years ago (which I won't go into now).

If anyone wants to start a courier service for musical instruments, let me know, and I might consider travelling with my instruments again.

17 August 2006

All the Way Home

As you see, the cat has found her new favorite spot. Actually, she seems to have staked out sleeping territory all over the place. The living room windowsill, my bedroom windowsill, under the pedestal sink in the bathroom, the middle of the couch, the chair in the guest room, anywhere in my bed where I'm trying to put my feet, etc. She seems quite content in our new home, though I think I will try to walk her in the park tomorrow. She'll probably be terrified, but I want to give it a shot.

I am quite content in our new home, too. I'm almost totally unpacked (one more box of books to go), and would be totally unpacked except that I keep discovering more little things that need attention (dresser drawer is falling apart--buy glue). I could never have managed this week without my fantastic parents, who assembled furniture, shopped for necessary items, and generally made sure everything was in order.

I could have done it all myself, but it would have been much harder, since I had three tests to take, five different kinds of orientation sessions to attend, besides auditioning for an ensemble and meeting with my advisor(s--I'm not entirely sure whether Renaissance Prof or Department Chair is my advisor. I was supposed to meet with Renaissance Prof from the beginning, but then Department Chair wanted to meet with me for an advisement session as well, though he wasn't at all helpful and I still had to see Renaissance Prof to clear it all up.), then registering for the classes so helpfully picked out for me by Department Chair. I'm sort of psyched about having to take Music Theory Review, because it's listed as being taught by Famous Choral Composer this semester. Some older, wiser grad students cautioned me that Famous Choral Composer sometimes delegates this task to T.A.'s or the professor assigned to the course changes at the last minute, but it still might be FCC, so that's cool.

Oh, and the prof I'm supposed to assist hasn't attempted to contact me, and hasn't replied to the email I sent her, and hasn't been in the office for the last two days. I have no idea whether or not I'm expected to be at the first class or not. I've come to the conclusion that if being a graduate student is this hard before classes even start, the next four or five years are going to be insane. But hopefully I'll come out of it with my sanity intact, and a PhD to boot.

10 August 2006

Hitting the Road Again

My bags are packed and I'm ready to go! Tomorrow my parents and I drive down to L.A. and collect the key to my new apartment. We have the freight elevator reserved for Friday morning (fancy stuff) so we move the furniture in then, except for the furniture which is being delivered, which of course we don't have to carry ourselves.

We decided at the last minute that my cat gets to come too. This necessitated picking up her medical records from the vet and buying her a harness, since taking her out of the apartment will require a leash. She models it for you below, sort of:

Looks happy about it, doesn't she? Actually, she always looks about like that. Despite appearing perpetually ticked-off, she's an affectionate animal, and I will be glad to have a warm furry critter to cuddle up with when I come home at night. I think she'll adjust pretty well to apartment life, since she's shown almost no interest in going outside in the last two years.

I'm very excited about the move. I'm also welcoming any suggestions for decent parishes in Los Angeles. Surely someone, somewhere, chants? I'll be living in the city of Los Angeles itself, but am willing to drive up to 45 minutes to go to Mass. (If all else fails, I'll hang out at an Eastern Catholic parish.)

07 August 2006

Flash of Brilliance

As my family wended its way toward brunch at a local country club, my mother read aloud a note in the bulletin that the Knights of Columbus were putting on a pancake breakfast at a local parish. This amused us, because the Knights of Columbus in East Durham, NY put on a pancake breakfast every single Sunday (now that's dedication!). Recalling the ubiquitous K of C pancake breakfast prompted my brain into action, and after a moment's cogitation, this is what it produced:

Knights of Columbus Pancake Mix.

It could be packaged and sent in bulk to each outpost of the Knights (instant pancake breakfast for your parish! just add water!). They could sell smaller boxes at the breakfasts for those weekdays or Saturdays when you're just craving some good pancakes, to raise money so that the Knights can send pancake mix and other nutritious foods to homeless shelters and third-world countries. There would be a brief history of the Knights on the back of the box, a reminder not to consume pancakes within an hour before Mass if intending to receive the Eucharist, and maybe a form the gentleman of the house could fill out and send in to get more information about how to become a Knight. They could even make different flavors of pancake mix--imagine going to breakfast in your parish hall and having a choice of regular, blueberry, or chocolate chip (which I don't like, but have heard some people do).

(Now, of course, someone will tell me that someone else has already thought of this, but I don't care. It would still be a good idea, right?)

29 July 2006

Irish-style Wake in America?

My family were having a discussion about this last night, and though I've done a bit of poking around online, I haven't been able to come up with an answer. Is it possible to have an Irish-style wake, with the body of the deceased on view in the family home, in the U.S.? The debate was whether it is legal here or not. I know that embalming is not required everywhere (is it required anywhere? I know I'd rather not be embalmed, thanks), and one funeral home website said they would transport the body to the family's choice of location for viewing, but I couldn't find out whether a body could be kept in a private home for several hours or even overnight.

My family are definitely not in denial that we're going to die someday. We've all let each other know pretty exactly how we want things to proceed when our souls are separated from our bodies. Some people think look at me oddly when I admit that we've had this conversation on more than one occasion, but I don't think it's morbid or something to be grossed out by. We all die, and someone's going to be responsible for seeing that we're buried properly and that Masses are said for our souls. And sometimes you run into questions like the one above, that you'd rather know before your father or mother dies. When you're grieving, praying for your parent's soul, trying to explain to a small child that grandpa has gone to be with Jesus, and you've got three days to plan the funeral and the family gathering, you'd rather not spend that time trying to find out whether it's legal for dear Dad to be laid out in his own lovingly-decorated home, instead of a funeral parlor that hasn't shelled out for new curtains or canned music since it opened in 1976.

26 July 2006

I'm Completely Blowing My Cover...

...but I'm excited and very proud of myself, and I can't contain it. Look, it's me! Beginning chanters should definitely consider coming to this conference. I promise that both Margaret and I are gentle and capable instructors. Those of you with more experience in chant will certainly be interested in what Dr. Schaefer has to say. The conference two years ago (titled "Chant in the Liturgy Today") was an opportunity for quiet reflection, group prayer, learning, and socialization with others who have a common interest, and this conference promises to provide that as well. I'm looking forward to it, and perhaps I'll see some of the readers of this blog there.

22 July 2006

I knew Stephen Fry was a comedic genius, but this really takes the cake:

"Complete loose-stool-water. Arse-gravy of the very worst kind." -- Stephen Fry Speaking about Dan Brown's novel, 'The Da Vinci Code.'

Thus ends the debate on 'The Da Vinci Code.'

20 July 2006

Thoughts for Thursday
aka More on Montreal

There are apparently a lot of Dominican nuns hanging around Montreal. I saw two more today, this time in Bonsecours chapel.

The interior of St. Joseph's Oratory is disappointing. You can definitely tell that the outside was completed according to the original design from (I think) the 20's, but that the interior wasn't finished until the 60's. The sculpture, ironwork, and arches are rough and "futuristic" in a bad way. It's too bad, because the votive chapel and crypt chapel are quite nice, and you see those before you get to the basilica interior, which makes it all the more disappointing. Give me Bonsecours, St. Patrick's, Notre Dame, or Reine-de-la-monde any day. Even the facade pipes on the organ were unattractive.

I did get a kick out of one thing in the main oratory, though--the statue of St. Thomas has his arms folded in a delightfully skeptical pose.

Despite my complaints about the main church, I found the votive chapel intensely moving--if you can walk in there and see the thousands of flickering candles sending prayers to heaven and hundreds of crutches hanging from the wall denoting prayers answered and fail to be moved, there's something wrong with your soul.

Canadians will put moose and beavers on anything, much as Americans might put an eagle on anything. But moose and beavers are funnier.

Montreal would be a lot more fun if my French were better.

18 July 2006

Tuesday Miscellany

Enter into Jane and Lizzy's Dominican sighting logbook: 19:00, 18 July, St. Patrick's Basilica in Montreal. It's stunning 19th-Century Gothic church, by the way, with lots of little paintings of saints and a few panels left blank for new additions.

Speaking of 19th-Century Gothic, the cathedral in Albany, NY is under rennovation, and it's going to be lovely. But does anyone know what happened to the high altar?

I'd like to pick a quote of the week for last week, but there are so many. My two favorites are probably as follows:

Myron Bretholz, the Jewish bodhran player: "People ask me why I hang out in Irish bars. I tell them, 'Find me a Jewish bar.'"
(Mr. Bretholz is a frequent MC for the Catskills Irish Arts Week concerts, and tells a lot of Jewish jokes. His favorite saying seems to be, "Better Irish music and Jewish comedy than the other way around." I dunno, though; Irish comedy and klezmer can be fun, too.)

The gal next to me at the bar and myself, who had never met before and didn't know the other was Catholic:
"So, what do you do?"
"Well, I'm starting graduate school in music history, but I just finished my bachelor's degree in liturgical music."
"Oh, so you know better than to program 'On Eagle's Wings' for every Mass."

Thought for the week: the Irish song tradition was very close to dying out in the 20th Century. A tale that crops up often among song collectors, especially from the 1930's-1960's, is of trekking out to some lonesome farm and getting several dozen songs out of the gentleman or lady of the house, to the complete surprise of that person's spouse. They didn't sing the songs because they were considered "peasant music" or "rot from the old country" or some such thing, something to be ashamed of rather than to sing out. Thank God for the song collectors, and places like Catskills Irish Arts Week, which truly are "Keeping the Tradition Alive."

17 July 2006

Prayer Request

A young man named Adam T., 20 years old, was shot and killed this weekend--no word yet on who did it or why. We didn't know Adam, but his older sister and her husband were college friends of ours. Please pray for the repose of Adam's soul, and for the comfort of his family.

08 July 2006

40 Shades of...Yellow and Brown?

I'm currently at my family's vacation home in the Catskills, as I have been every July since 2002. And every July that we have been coming here (since 2000), I have been amazed that everything is green. I mean I look out the window, and not only are the trees green, but the grass is green. It's not even a lawn! We don't have a sprinkler system! (Everything is black now, of course, because it's midnight and there are no street lights. I'll take a good look at the stars now, because I won't see much of them in L.A.)

This is truly astonishing to a California girl. Wikipedia says that California is called "The Golden State" because of the gold rush, and not because of the "golden" hills covered with yellowish-brown dead grass in the summer. I don't believe Wikipedia on that one. My mother has a friend here who has never been to the West Coast in the summer, and she did not believe us that the grass is not green in summer, so we had to take a picture for her. She probably still doesn't believe us.

Some people moved in next door to us in Napa a few years back. They were from Minnesota. They did not understand in-ground sprinkler systems. They planted things where there was no sprinkler, and then went around scratching their heads when the poor plant withered and died. They dug holes and cut the sprinkler lines, leaving a mess for the next occupants of the house to clean up. My mom, who has always lived in California and has a green thumb (and fingers, sometimes extending past the wrist), attempted to explain, but they never really got it. It doesn't usually rain in California in the summer, unless you live in one of those weird rainforesty spots where the average rainfall is about twice that of Seattle (we used to have a cabin in Lake County where it rained 110 inches a year or something). So, we water our lawns. But in New York, it rains, and no one seems to have sprinklers, but miraculously, all is green.

I think that's a big part of why my parents wanted to buy a place here, even though lots of people thought them a little crazy. It's tons of fun to come and see green stuff when all at home is brown, but also to have our own little bit of home here in East Durham.

03 July 2006


The recent posts and comments at The Shrine of the Holy Whapping regarding liturgical music have prompted a bit of reflection on my part. Being now the proud posesser of an actual Bachelor of Arts in Music, Emphasis in Liturgical Music, and in view of my roughly 15 years of experience with parish choirs, I feel somewhat qualified to reflect on this subject (not that Joe Q. Catholic in the pew isn't, of course, but I know all the fancy terms...like...quillisma).

In all seriousness, the first thing I want to say is that it's not about taste. I like rock music (rock of 40 years ago, but that counts too), I like Broadway both modern and vintage, I like Latin (Latin-American, that is) rhythms and think African drums are really cool, and I've tried my hand at the Irish tin whistle. However, would I bring any of these things into any of the (very white, American) parishes I've attended? Most definitely not. Why? Because as wonderful as they are in other settings, they don't belong at Mass. This is not to say that you can't use your electric guitar to worship God, but please do it from your garage or a concert stage, and leave it at home on Sunday.

Why do I say this? Because the Church says it, and because, having spent the last four years studying and trying to follow the Church's directives on liturgical music (notice I'm not saying "sacred music," which could really be anything with a religious theme, but "liturgical," as in, "the liturgy of the hours and Mass), I've discovered that, surprise! the Church is right.

Chant changes people. This is point two of my tirade. Ask anyone who's lived with chant for an extensive period (every Sunday for six months, maybe) what their experience was, and I'll eat the first page of my thesis if they don't tell you that something about their spiritual life is different now. I'm not saying that anyone who chants regularly will become a better person--God knows I'm even further from being spotless now than I was in high school--but the formation of the soul, their education, has changed. Attending a good (in the heavenly, not academic, sense) school doesn't automatically make you a good person, but it might mean that you have better tools to get where you're going, if you choose to use them.

In junior high, my religion teacher explained, "It's not that people who aren't Catholics won't go to heaven. It's more that Catholics have the map, and everyone else is going by trial and error." I think this analogy can be applied to the music requested by the Church vs. other music. It's not that other music is bad, it's that you know for sure that chant can get you there if you're willing to go, and you can never quite be sure about the rest of it.

I try not to be a snob or an egoist about liturgical music. I have a pretty voice, which might possibly be operatic if I chose to develop it that way, but I've found operatic (read: showy) voices annoying at Mass, and prefer the clearer, purer voice I had as a teenager. People said I sounded angelic, which in one way I loved, because I wanted to make them think of the angels praising God in song, and in one way I hated, because I didn't want to be complimented for my own sake. What I liked best was to be told things like, "God gave you a wonderful gift." I don't like to be up at the front of the church, except possibly when acclaiming the psalm, which should be sung from where the other readings have been done, since it's really just a more musically elaborate reading. I'd rather be in a choir loft, heard and not seen, so as to better bring to mind the unseen hosts which are forever singing to their Lord.

This is also ties into my first point, that this isn't really about taste. In the chant Propers, the Church has told me what should be sung every Sunday and feast day. How arrogant would it be of me to decide that I could choose better than the Church has chosen--text, music, and all? Ok, maybe for variety, we'll have a different setting of the same text, which is, after all, what the music serves, or maybe even a paraphrase. But to ignore it completely just because the music director would prefer something different? That seems like a terrible idea, possibly even a sinfully prideful one (depending, of course, on the music director/cantor/organist's state of mind, and all that).

21 June 2006

Serra Convention Mass

A group comprised mainly of members (and former members) of the Gonzaga Gregorian Schola will provided the music for the Traveller's Mass for the International Serra Convention on Thursday, June 29th, in Our Lady of Lourds Cathedral in Spokane. The Kyrie, Gloria, Agnus Dei, and a setting of the Salve Regina which will be sung are int he South American baroque style, and we will also sing 20th Century French settings of Salve Mater and Tu Es Petrus (the 29th is the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul).

If you're planning to be there, say hello. I'm the strawberry-blonde alto.

19 June 2006

Friday Feast on Sunday

From Summa Mamas

What is a word that you use that would not be considered common?


What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?

"Nuns Having Fun" and one with pictures of and quotes about cats.

What is the age span of the children in your family...and the children in the family you grew up in?

Don't have a family of my own yet, and though I have half siblings, I've never lived with any of them. (Actually, I am informed that my next-youngest sister lived with us for a few months, but I was only two and I don't remember.) My half-brother, the oldest, is 22 years older than me.

Main Course
Do you care about fashion? What do you especially like to shop for?

Yes, any of my friends would tell you that my closet is full-to-overflowing. I try buy things which are of good quality and classic cut, so they're good for years and not just a couple of seasons, though. I tend not to buy pieces from current trends unless I'm fairly sure I'll still like them in 4 or 5 years' time. A few items have been in my closet since I was 13, and still get worn now and again.
What do I like shopping for? Oh, pretty much anything when it comes to clothes, except for jeans and swimsuits.

What is the last beverage you drank?

Republic of Tea Unsweetened Raspberry Quince Black Iced Tea, commercially bottled.

16 June 2006

Some Wedding Don'ts

As a musician who has sung and played harp at many weddings, and as a young person whose friends are marrying off at a rather alarming rate, I have had several opportunities in the past five or six years to observe some things about weddings that work beautifully, and some that are just not good ideas. Here, for your enjoyment or your advice, are three wedding don'ts:

Don't schedule your wedding in the afternoon in the middle of summer. You may think the airconditioning in your church is adequate, but I can almost guarantee that it is not (like the wedding today, at which the ringbearer passed out).

Don't wait until the last minute to choose your music or communicate with your musicians. Things should be organized at least a month before the wedding. The closer to the wedding date you get without having all the music and musicians planned for, the closer you are to having some major hitches (like the wedding today, at which the ordinaries were not sung because the bride still hadn't picked out any music the afternoon before the wedding).

Don't ignore the parish organist, if there is one. Risk the ire of the union if you do. The American Guild of Organists has a code of ethics, and Rule 4 states: "Before accepting an engagement for a wedding, funeral, or other service, members shall obtain the approval of the incumbent musician. In cases where this engagement has been requested by a third party, it is appropriate for the third party to offer the incumbent his/her customary fee. It is the responsibility of members to inform the third party of this rule." This means that you must at least offer the job to the parish organist, even if you plan to also have other musicians at the event. (I would not have sung at today's wedding if I'd known before I agreed that the parish organist had not been offered the gig.)

09 June 2006

The Knitty-Gritty

Saturday is the 2nd Annual World-Wide Knit in Public Day!

This is a great opportunity for knitters to get together and have fun. Go to the website to see if there's a WWKIPday group meeting in your area, and get to know some of your local knitters!

It's also a great chance for new knitters to get started started. At the risk of revealing my own obsession with crafty things, here are some resources for beginners and advanced knitters alike:

Knitting Help: a page with free videos showing knitting techniques.

Knitty Magazine: an online knitting magazine, with free patterns and useful "purls of wisdom." (yuk yuk yuk)

Learn to Knit: the Craft Yarn Council of America's page with illustrated knit and crochet instructions.

And for Harry Potter fans: the definitive house scarf pattern!

What are you waiting for? Get knitting!

08 June 2006

Random, Vaguely Music-Related Questions

Why is it that people don't know how to film dancers? I was watching a local television station's broadcast of performers from the 2005 Celtic Roots festival, and they spent at least half the time filming the dancer's faces. These are Irish dancers--if you film their faces, all you see is a smiling head bobbing up and down. Film the whole body, film the feet, zoom in on the face once in a while, but film the feet!!

P.S. Why do so many female folksingers dress oddly? The men generally don't dress strangely; they generally wear a nondescript polo or button-down shirt,plain trousers or jeans, and casual shoes--normal male dress. But the women, geeze. An ill-fitting mint-green satin skirt with a wine-colored tank top? Or, as I saw at Irish Arts Week last year, a bright yellow patterned shirt with bright pink pants and an orange and green patterned belt? Oh my eyes! Lady musicians: there are more attractive ways of expressing your individuality.

03 June 2006

Another Recipe

Here's another quick summer dessert we invented last night (though I imagine someone's done it before), with a somewhat Middle Eastern flair:

Stuffed Dates
whole dates (2-3 per person)
goat cheese
fresh mint leaves

Dice mint leaves very small, and mix with goat cheese. Cut a slit in each date, remove the nut, and spoon cheese mixture into the slit. If desired, garnish with another mint leaf. These look lovely on a plate with some nuts, like walnuts, and served with a glass of a sweet wine, port, or sherry. They could also be an appetizer.

01 June 2006

Summer Desserts

We bought a flat of strawberries a few days ago, and were left singularly unmoved by the flavor of the raw fruit (excessive rain has played havoc with California's early summer produce). On Monday we made a cobbler, because it was cool enough to turn on the oven, but tonight required something else.

Strawberry topping for ice cream (serves 3 or 4):
1 cup strawberries
Sugar to taste
Juice of 1/2 lime
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier

Cut 1/3 of the strawberries into small pieces, and heat in saucepan over low heat with lime juice and sugar until strawberries get mushy. Stir in Grand Marnier and rest of strawberries (halved or quartered). Heat only until strawberries are warmed. Serve immediately, spooned over vanilla ice cream. Garnish with a cookie--orange or chocolate flavored work well.

Also, having turned 21 this year, I am still exploring the wonderful world of alcoholic beverages. My dessert last night was a little creme de menthe and cream over ice--cools down the throat, and warms the head a little. Sadly, I haven't yet had the chance to try the full Grasshopper--the above, with creme de cacao--since we didn't have any creme de cacao in the house.

26 May 2006

Conference on Chant

As Mr. Tribe of the New Liturgical Movement points out, the Liturgical Institute at the University of St. Mary of the Lake/Mundelein Seminary have some conferences on music coming up. Particularly of interest to readers of this blog will be the conference entitled "Pride of Place: Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy", which will take place September 17-19.

Once they put more information about the conference on their website, telling you this will probably blow my cover, but I'll say it anyway: Dr. Schaefer has asked me, along with one of my classmates, to lead the track for beginners. The conference in 2004 was very informative, very prayerful, and very fun--there's nothing quite like being in a beautiful place with beautiful weather singing beautiful music with 70 like-minded people from all over the U.S.--so I'm really, really looking forward to it. I hope you all can come too!

25 May 2006

This is a pretty cool building. My parents took me there yesterday, for just a bit, because my mom wanted to show my the grounds. The grounds are lovely, but it was the building that enchanted me. Sadly, we didn't have enough time to taste wine, but I've been promised that we'll go back another day (21 years old for nearly six months, a resident of Napa, and I still haven't been wine-tasting!).

14 May 2006

To the Sound of Bagpipes and Drums...

...Lizzy and I processed into the Spokane Arena this morning, with 950 of our classmates (yeah, that was a lot of hands for Fr. Spitzer to shake). Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees were given to five people--Archbishop Brunett of Seattle, Fr. Patrick Twohy, S.J. (for his inspiring service to the Native American communities of Eastern Washington and Idaho), and three other folks for services rendered to the university (primarily monetary, I believe). Fr. Twohy gave a speech, which contained several interesting stories but the point of which I was never able to make out, and the president of the student body association gave a speech, and Fr. Spitzer gave a speech, and Archbishop Brunett gave the opening and closing "invocations", which I guess is the new fancy term for prayers.

Of these, Fr. Spitzer's speech was by far the best, in terms of cohesiveness, organization, and content...but it was an awful lot like one we've heard him give before. We think that's ok, though; if you give really excellent, impassioned speeches, it's probably all right if you've only got about five speeches that you rotate through depending on the occasion. Fr. Spitzer speeches have a lot of content, too, so it's ok to hear them more than once, like reading a good book more than once--you catch things you didn't catch last time.

For the tat-minded among you, there were of course lots of impressive academic robes--I particularly enjoyed seeing one fellow wearing Stanford's red and blue doctoral robes, which are quite different in style from the typical academic regalia, and Fr. Mossi's Doctor of Theology red velvet--and Archbishop Brunett was smartly attired in his appropriate academic attire, sans biretta but including the ferraiolo, which I'd never seen in person before. (See this page for some pictures of the ferraiolo and clerics in abito piano--academic attire.)

We didn't get our actual degrees today. Those come in the mail later. Today we got nice leather covers for the degrees, which contain what amounts to an ad for the alumni association ("In case the $100k you just forked over wasn't enough, send a check to the Alumni Association!"). The walk across the stage is a bit of a blur, since, there being 952 of us, we had to move along pretty quickly. We're very proud that neither of us (both tend to be a little clumsy) tripped or fell or otherwise embarassed ourselves. We had lunch with our families afterwards at the local Irish pub which had been our hangout sophomore year. A lovely, but very tiring day.

08 May 2006


...is on Sunday. Lizzy and I picked up our caps, gowns, hoods, sashes, and tassels today. I managed not to cry.
Blinking back tears

The Last Time

Smoke spirals skywards,
Beautiful bells tintinnabulate,
Vividly victorious vestments
Coruscate on courtly clergymen,
Ceremonious chanting colors
Lavish liturgy.

I look lachrymosely
On the splendid summation;
Sundays are now silent.

Today was the last Chant Mass of the school year, and my last with the Schola. I'm glad to be graduating, but I regret having to leave the Schola behind; they are my sisters and brothers, and the music we sang together changed my life.
Meme Time

From Mixolydian Mode:

Grab the nearest book.
Open it to page 161.
Find the fifth sentence.
Post the text of the sentence along with these instructions.
Don’t search around and look for the coolest book you can find. Do what’s actually next to you.

There aren't actually five sentences on the page, but the fifth thing punctuated with a period is: "M. J. E. Senn, Masters and Pupils, aduiotapes of lectures by Lawrence S. Kubie, Jane Loevinger, and M. J. E. Senn, presented at meeting of the of the Society for Research in Child Development, Philadelphia, March 1973 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974)."

It's an example of the form for a note citing a sound recording, from A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Sixth Edition by Kate L. Turabian--the style manual I'm obliged to use for my thesis.

The next nearest book provides the following (I'm counting the half-sentence at the top of the page as 1): "'Fifty points from Gryffindor for lateness, I think,' said Snape." (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince--not my copy but my apartment mate's. As I have temporarily moved my laptop to the living room, there is stuff belonging to other people around too. The next nearest book belonging to me is the library copy of Brideshead Revisited, but it only offered "I happen to know," which is not very interesting.)

06 May 2006

An Argument in Favor of No Music

I never thought I'd say this, but I've come across an argument in favor of not having music at Mass--but only because of special circumstances, mind you.

Last Saturday, CatholicNerd and I were in charge of music for a Mass at parish which normally doesn't have music for Saturday evening Masses, but wanted music for that one because there had been a retreat at the parish that day. We were practicing a hymn outside the front door, so as not to disturb those praying inside. A couple walked up to the door, noticed us, and the lady--startled--asked, "Is there going to be music at this Mass?" We confirmed that there would be, and she and her husband mubled to each other about going to Mass on Sunday morning instead, after which it was apparently decided that she'd stay for Mass and he'd come back and pick her up later.

Somewhat insulted, I said in what I thought was a reassuring manner, "We're not that bad, I promise." (The priest--relatively new to the parish--had told me that due to the very bad music under past regimes, his parishoners had opted for no music at all, at any of the Masses, at least on a regular basis.) The lady again looked startled, but said, "Oh, no, it's not that. My husband has a problem with his ears and any music, but especially the organ, causes him pain. We're so grateful that there's usually not music here, because this year was the first time in ages that he's been able to go to Mass on Christmas and Easter."

It had never occurred to me that people could have an ear problem such that music caused them pain, although I've heard that if you have tinnitus (ringing in the ears), accidentally hearing the tone at which your ears ring can cause the ringing to become temporarily or permanently worse. Perhaps this is the problem that the man has, or maybe it's something else, but either way, isn't it somewhat unfair that if there's music at every Mass, someone who has such an uncorrectable physiological problem can't really come to Mass? If there's no such person in your parish, fine, have music all the time, but I would hope that if a pastor was approached by a person with such a problem, he'd be willing to accomodate. And this is where the flexibility of the Roman rite is a good thing (versus many of the Eastern rites, in which no one can concieve of not singing--normally a good thing, but in this case, not so much).

02 May 2006

Don't Forget!

Gonzaga Choir Camp 2006 is still taking registrants. All you high schoolers, please consider adding this week of faith, fun, and beautiful music to your summer schedule!

29 April 2006

It's like...

...herding cats! This is one of my mom's favorite expressions, which makes a lot of sense as we've always had multiple cats around the house. That's why I was thrilled when "Disciples with Microphones" posted the Google video of my favorite commercial ever. Mom and I never remember what the commercial advertizes, but since seeing it a few years ago, we've never forgotten it.

25 April 2006

Look at Those Happy Catholics!

This photo is from the front page of this week's Gonzaga Bulletin. That's me in the glasses, on the far right. The white and gold balloons in the background are a balloon arch that's partly blown over. The John Paul II Fellowship set up a table for "Pope Day" (the anniversary of Pope Benedict's election--or as the Bulletin misprinted, "Pope Benedictine XVI") and handed out hotdogs, soda, and 1-page condensed versions of Deus caritas est.

Our t-shirts rocked, too. As you can see, the pope was on the front, and the back said "I ♥ My German Shepherd." The Student Body Association paid for 130 free shirts for us to hand out, which were gone by 10:30am. By 3pm, we had three full pages of names of students--and faculty--who wanted a pope t-shirt. I don't know where the Fellowship is going to dig up the $4 per shirt to make sure the second printing of shirts is free, but we'll manage.

22 April 2006

Please say a prayer for the resting of the soul of Catherine Grisewood, an elderly lady who resided in Co. Tipperary, Ireland, until her death yesterday morning. One of her daughters was married in Rome this weekend, and it seems a little unfair that her newlywed bliss should be dampened so quickly with sorrow, but God works in his own time. Mrs. Grisewood was in her 90's, and until two or three years ago she walked the mile to her local parish every day for Mass, even after having both hips replaced. She was famous for her green thumb and her fruit preserves.

20 April 2006

Eagle Cam

If there are any of you who, like me, are former subscribers to "Ranger Rick" or "Zoo Books," or big watchers of the Discovery Channel, you might enjoy this live streaming video of an eagle's nest.

19 April 2006

Happy Anniversary, Pope Benedict!

And just in case anyone's looking for the lyrics, Long Live the Pope!

14 April 2006

Artwork of the Crucifixion

As part of my meditations today, I went to the Art Renewal Center website and did a search for artwork bearing the title "Crucifixion." There are many and varied depictions available for viewing. These are the ones I have found most moving, and providing of the most detail to my imagination:

Antonio da Firenze depicts an anguished Blessed Mother and St. John, with two penitents (flagellants) at the foot of the Cross. In beautiful contrast, a small Annunciation is shown at the top. The Blessed Mother's hand is outstreched, showing us her Son, and the Annunciation above seems almost to be an image from her memory.

Carl Heinrich Bloch shows the Blessed Mother fallen in a faint at the foot of the Cross, Joseph of Aramathea holding her hand solicitously, and St. John with his hands folded in sorrowful prayer. How the Blessed Mother and St. John must have suffered!

Salvador Dali provides a strangely cubic crucifix and desolate landscape, which remind me of how abandoned and alone Christ was. The muscles in his arms strain, his hands are clenched in pain, and his face (clean-shaven, as historians now tell us he must have been) is turned away from us, either in pain, or so that we won't see the full extent of his anguish.

Juan de Juni carved a bloody crucifix (typical Spanish), giving us an image of extreme pain and suffering.

Simone Martini also shows the Blessed Mother fainting in anguish, along with St. Mary Magdalen clinging to the base of the Cross, looking up at her Lord longingly. Two angels flank the Cross, crying out in sorrow and outrage. The painting is hardly diminished by the too-skinny arms and legs of Jesus.
Good Friday

Popule meus, quid feci tibi? aut in quo contristavi te? Responde mihi. Quia eduxi te de terra AEgypti, parasti crucem Salvatori tuo. O my people, what have I done to thee? or wherin have I afflicted thee? Answer me. Because I led thee out of the land of Egypt, thou has prepared a cross for thy Saviour.

Agios o Theos! O holy God!
Sanctus Deus! O holy God!
Agios ischyros! O holy mighty One!
Sanctus fortis! O holy mighty One!
Agios athanatos, eleison imas.O holy immortal One, have mercy upon us.
Sanctus immortalis, miserere nobis.O holy immortal One, have mercy upon us.

Quia eduxi te per desertum quadraginta annis, et manna cibavi te, et introduxi te in terram satis bonam, parasti crucem Salvatori tuo. Because I led thee out through the desert forty years, and fed thee with manna, and brought thee into a land exceeding good, thou hast prepared a cross for thy Saviour.

(From the Reproaches)

13 April 2006


Please pray for those who will be received into the Church this week, especially Dawn Eden, and my friend Anne. It's good to know that people with great minds like Dawn's and great musical gifts like Anne's are excited about being Catholic.

Please pray for those who celebrate their anniversaries of entering the Church. My father (8 years), boyfriend (2 years), and another friend (1 year) will be in my prayers.

Saturday is also the anniversary of my confirmation. As mentioned in a post below, my diocese was temporarily without its own bishop, and since I was the only one to be confirmed at the parish that year, it was decided that I would be confirmed with the adults at the Easter Vigil. I remember my anniversary happily, despite the unusual circumstances.

08 April 2006

Moving on Up, or Down

It's official--I'm moving to Southern California in August. I've begun referring to it alternately as the "Land of Eternal Summer" and the "Principality of Mahoney." I'll be studying music history at USC (combined MA/PhD program). My emphasis, for those of you who are curious, will be Renaissance polyphony, though I'm sure I'll take little excursions into chant and Renaissance instrumental music.

Does anyone have any recommendations for good parishes down there? (Other than the ones representing various Eastern Rites, of course, which my natural liturgical curiousity will lead me to explore as fully as possible.)

03 April 2006

Lost Monty Python Interview

Here is an interview with the Pythons recorded in 1975, on the day after the first public showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. It cuts out after about 14 minutes--the tape was recorded over (curses)--but it's still worth watching. They're more subdued than I would have thought, but there's still a wacky element, specifically a stuffed armadillo. I wonder who has that armadillo now?

27 March 2006

Cardinal News

Check out Zadok's post on Cardinal Levada taking posession of his new titular church, S.Maria in Dominica. I find it exciting for two reasons: one, because the new cardinal was (albeit only for a year or so) the administrator of the diocese in which I resided*, and also because the Hassler Missa Dixit Maria was performed. Our Gregorian Schola used the Kyrie and Gloria from that Mass, and the Sanctus and Agnus Dei from Hassler's Missa Secunda as part of the concert repertoire we performed when we toured France in 2004 (in other words, Lizzy and I sang it so many times that we know it even better than we know each other, and could not have prevented ourselves from singing along, had we been fortunate enough to be present).

*There was a scandal during which our bishop resigned, and since then-Archbishop Levada was head of the neighboring diocese (of which my own diocese was a part until 30 years ago), he was asked to take over until they could find someone new.

25 March 2006

The Annunciation

"Ecce Ancilla Domini" by Dante Gabriel Rossetti 

23 March 2006

(lifted from Zadok)
Instructions: Go to your music player of choice and put it on shuffle. Say the following questions aloud, and press play. Use the song title as the answer to the question. NO CHEATING.

How does the world see you? The Extra-Ordinary Beast/Road to Boston (Cathy Barton and Dave Para) [The song is about Lewis and Clark's attempt to catch a prarie dog, so this means I'm unusual, fascinating, cute, and hard to pin down.]

Will I have a happy life? Makin' Whoopee (Ella Fitzgerald)

What do my friends really think of me? She Loves You (The Beatles)

What do people secretly think of me? Cortege et Litanie for Organ and Orchestra (Marcel Dupre)

How can I be happy? Dream a Little Dream of Me (Mamas and the Papas)

What should I do with my life? All the Things You Are (Swingle Singers)

Will I ever have children? Mama Don't Allow (Asylum Street Spankers) [uh oh]

What is some good advice for me? Galliard pour luth (Ensemble Clement Janequin)

How will I be remembered? Never on Sunday (Pink Martini) [Does this mean I'm so hopeless no one will have Masses said for me after I die, or that I'll be a saint and my feast will be moved when it falls on Sunday?]

What is my signature dancing song? L-O-V-E (Nat King Cole)

What do I think my current theme song is? Ladies' Pantalettes/Belles of Blackville/First House in Connaught (Reels, played by Bela Fleck and the Chieftains) [Can I switch these last two, please?]

What does everyone else think my current theme song is? Molly Ban (Allison Kraus and the Chieftains) [No way am I that depressed.]

What song will play at my funeral? Rumania (Dave Tarras and the Musiker Brothers)

What type of men/women do you like? Tanto son da groriosa (Ensemble Unicorn, from the album Songs of the Black Madonna: pilgrim songs from the Monastery of Montserrat)

What is my day going to be like? Psalm 108: 'My Heart is Ready' (Anglican chant by J.A. Stevenson and R.P. Stewart)

22 March 2006

Things I love about being at a Catholic school, #457:

Receving an email the subject line of which reads, "Repent!" (It was an ad for an upcoming retreat.)

18 March 2006

Gavin: Mmm, capybarae.
Me: Can we start a band and call it "Capybara on Friday"?

17 March 2006

Helpful Phrases

Should you ever find yourself stranded in the Irish-speaking part of Ireland (ok, they speak English there too, but pretend for a minute that they don't), here are some phrases you might find handy:

Phrase: Ta se ag cur baisti
Pronounced: taw shay egg curr bosh-tee
Meaning: It is raining.

Phrase: Nil moran Gaeilge agam.
Pronounced: kneel more/on gale/geh ah/gum
Meaning: I don't have much Irish.

Phrase: Cá bhfuil an teach pobail?
Pronounced: caw will on chock pub/ill?
Meaning: Where is the pub?

Phrase: Go raibh míle maith agat!
Pronounced: Guh ruh meal/ah mawt ag/gut
Meaning: Many thanks! (literal: may you have a thousand good things!)

Phrase: An dtogann tu caratai credit?
Pronounced: on duggan two car-tee credit
Meaning: Do you take credit cards?

Phrase: Ba mhaith liom tae/bainne/uisce beatha/beoir
Pronounced: buh watt lum tay/bonn-ye/ishka ba-ha/bee-yore
Meaning: I would like tea/milk/whiskey/beer

Phrase: aon, do, tri, ceithir, cuig, se, seacht, ocht, naoi, deich
Pronounced: ain, dough, tree, kerr/ih, koo/igg, shay, shocht, uck/th, knee, deh
Meaning: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10

Phrase: Ta me are meisce
Pronounced: taw/may/air/mesh-keh
Meaning: I am very drunk.

Phrase: Beannachtai na Feile Padraig
Pronounced: bann/ockt/tee nih fail/eh pawd/rig
Meaning: Happy Saint Patrick's Day!
Erin's Green Shore

One evening of late as I rambled
On the banks of a clear purling stream,
I sat down on a bed of primroses
And I gently fell into a dream.
I dreamed I beheld a fair female,
Her equal I had ne'er seen before,
And she sighed for the wrongs of her country
As she strayed along Erin's Green Shore.

I went to her and I quickly addressed her:
Fair maid, will you tell me your name
And why through this wild wooded country
In the midst of these dangers you came?
I'm a daughter of Daniel O'Connell
And from England I have lately come o'er,
I have come to awaken my brethren
Who slumber on Erin's Green Shore.

Her eyes were like two sparkling diamonds
Or the stars of a bright frosty night,
Her cheeks were like two blooming roses,
And her teeth of the ivory so white.
She resembled the Goddess of Freedom
And green was the mantle she wore
Bound 'round with the shamrock and roses
As she strayed along Erin's Green Shore.

In transports of joy I awoke then,
And found I had been in a dream,
For this beautiful damsel had fled me,
And I longed for to slumber again.
May the heavens above be her guardian,
For I know I shall see her no more,
May the sunbeams of glory shine o'er he
As she strays along Erin's Green Shore.

The book from which I obtained this version of the lyrics to this song notes that this poem belongs to the aisling (vision) genre, in which Ireland is personified as an oppressed woman who appears in a dream seeking help from her sons or brothers who "slumber" in slavery.

16 March 2006

Libellus IV

Here is what H.C. Chery, O.P., has to say on the matter of "What sins to confess" in his book, Frequent Confession (the items in bold are a point which I find particularly pertinent):

"A choice is necessary
In church, bu the confessional, I begin my examination of conscience. Of what sins shall I accuse myself?
The question is obviously relevant. For I could not possibly aspire to confessing all my sins. Scripture says that the just man sins seven times a day, and I, who am not a just man, sin in all sorts of ways every day. A complete confession, with an as accurate a total of my sins as possible, is an unattainable dream--and useless as well. A choice must be made. What must I choose?
[We all know mortal sins must be confessed, so I'll skip this part.]

In case of doubt
For some the difficulty is to know when a certain sin is mortal. In theory everyone knows: grave matter, full consent, and full knowledge. In practice, the question often arises, was the matter really grace? And still more commonly, did I really consent? The answer to the first question can easily be found by asking the confessor. As regards the second, by the very fact that I ask myself the question in good faith, sincerly, by the very fact that I am not sure, it is answered; there was not full consent. Does that mean that this 'doubtful' sin, or rahter this 'doubtfully committed' sin, should not be confessed? Not at all. The existence of such a doubt may legitimately allow reception of the sacrament of the Eucharist; strictly speaking there is no obligation to confess such a sin, but it would be wrong to shelter behind this absensce of obligation in order to retain posession of such a doubtful conscience....
[I have skipped also a couple paragraphs on the formation of conscience.]

Venial sins
But I desire particularly to insist here on the examination and confession of venial sins. Isn't it precisely in this respect that those who regularly confess are most deficient? What is the complaint most often on the lips of those who confess frequently? 'Confession is a bore because I always have the same thing to say.' Or else this remark which refers to the confessor: 'He says nothing to me,' meaning nothing out of the ordinary which would force me to bestir myself.
Now these two defects which make confession psychologically tedious are due to the same cause: you do not know how to confess.
How do most penitents confess?

Acts not stated to be confessed
Some (a few it is true), forget that sin is an act, not a state, and they manifest (or think they manifest) the condition of their soul by saying: 'I am a liar, I am impatient,' etc. This way of confessing is not the right one. You show thus the inclinations of your soul; but confession is not an account of your inclinations; it is the statement of precise actions, the consequence no doubt of your propensities, but differing from them as the fruit does from the tree. An individual may well have a propensity to lying (being a liar) without in fact having committed sins of lying during the fortnight following the last confession. If such sins have been committed the accusation should be 'I have lied, I have failed in charity, I have been lazy, I have been vain'. This formula is more correct, but as an accusation it is scarcely better, that is, is scarcely more profitable to your soul, scarcely more likely to draw useful advice from your confessor. Why? Because it is colourless. It has not required special thought on your part, nor any attempt at precision. It furnished the confessor with no special distinguishing signs enabling him to see in what way your soul differs from the one that he had to judge and advise before yours. Of the ten penitents who follow you, nine at least may well present the same list--and unfortunately in fact do so. Why (unless he has other knowledge of you) should you expect your confessor to give you exactly the advice you need, you personally and not another? Your personal case has not been shown to him by this confession; it gives him nothing to go on. He would have to possess wonderful psychological insight to be able to divine from this rapid list of 'standard' sins uttered through a grille in which he cannot even see your face, the words he should say to suit your case and incite you to make the effort that you, personally, ought to undertake yourself. All confessors cannot be expected to be like the Cure d'Ars. Usually he will only give back to you what you yourself have provided him with."

"Ha! Meditate on that," Chery seems to say. And he has a point: How many times have I said myself or overheard my friends say, "All he said to me was to make sure I'm saying my prayers every night and say ten Hail Mary's as a penance!" Sometimes it might be the priest, but in my case, at least 5 out of 6 times, I'm sure this has been my own fault. And what advice does Fr. Chery give to help us confess better? You'll have to come back at a later date to find out.

13 March 2006

Fire on Campus

A fire started around midnight last night on the Gonzaga campus, destroying a not-yet-completed apartment complex. The $10.4 million complex was expected to open in July, and is likely a total loss, but thankfully no one was injured. The building with the light on the left of this picture is St. Gregory Choral Hall. No damage to surrounding buildings has been reported. See the Spokesman-Review article for more details. 

12 March 2006

Libellus III

Continuing the series of posts from Frequent Confession by H.C. Chery, O.P., the little book next examines why one should confess to a priest. This could be useful if you're like me, and have friends or relatives who just don't understand why confession is important.

"This is the place to mention why I sould confess my sins to a priest instead of merely acknowledging them directly to God in the inmost recesses of my heart. It is because I am a member of the Church.
My sin has offended God and has injured me: it is a violation of the love that I owe to my Creator, of the proper love that I owe to my Creator and of the proper love that I should bear towards myself as a child of God. But it has also aimed a blow at the Church, the mystical Body. 'Every soul which raises itself, raises the world.' Every Christian who falls impedes the perfection of the Christian community. The most hidden of sins causes an injury to the tree of which I am a branch. When I cut myself off from the tree completely by mortal sin or merely separate myself from it a little, the whole tree suffers. My spiritual vitality is entirely dependent on the Church for God, for my benefit, has entrusted his graces to the Church, the Body of Christ. I must therefore also depend on her to be delivered from my sin. In the first centuries this responsibility towards the Church appeared more clearly when confession was public and made before the assembled congregation. Nowadays this discipline has been mitigated, but I must still accuse myself before the Church in the person of the priest who hears me and it is from the Church that I receive reconciliation by the ministry of the priest who absolves me."

I will skip the next section, "Confess to the same confessor as far as possible," because I think the reasons for this are easily and commonly understood, as well as the section on how to choose a confessor. Next time, I will begin posting the section on "What sins to confess."

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you out there, since many people take advantage of Lent to go to confession, or to resume a practice of regular confession which has fallen by the wayside, or just to meditate on what we are doing when we confess.