Approximately sixty members attended the 18th Gathering at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston and the St. Paul Cathedral in Worcester.  Host Leo Abbott and President Brian Luckner greeted attendees at Monday night’s social hour, which was followed after dinner by a brief business meeting.  Both meetings were held at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, where most visitors to Boston resided for the week.

Tuesday’s Morning Prayer service was followed by the presentation of Ms. Barbara Owen, an eminent organ historian.  She took the group on a verbal and visual tour through several 19th century Boston organs, including work by such renowned builders as Hook, Hastings, and Skinner.   Two of the organs she discussed - the 1863 Hook at the Jesuit Urban Center, and the 1875 Hook and Hastings at Holy Cross Cathedral - were demonstrated for CRCCM members later in the day.  After celebrating the Eucharist and lunching at Holy Cross Cathedral, the group heard Norah Duncan IV present a lecture-demonstration entitled “Church Music In An African-American Cathedral Community: Expectation, Demands, And Affirmations”.  Mr. Duncan demonstrated spirituals, metered hymns, and gospel songs from the African-American tradition, as well as their influence on the work of contemporary composers.  Tuesday night, host Leo Abbott and the Holy Cross Cathedral Festival Singers presented a concert of music for organ, choir, and brass. The concert included a setting of “Ave Verum Corpus” by a 19th c. Holy Cross music director, and Daniel Pinkham’s Jubilee and Psalm, which was commissioned by the Archdiocese of Boston for the Jubilee Year.

The gathering traveled to Worcester on Wednesday.  After a business meeting and tour of St. Paul Cathedral, the group lunched at Holy Cross College and was treated to James David Christie’s demonstration of St. Joseph Chapel’s unique Taylor and Boody organ.  Later, the group visited St. Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer and heard Brother Emmanuel’s address on “Prayer and the Church Musician”.  He emphasized that prayer should be founded on the Word of God (lexio divina), and should include meditation on the Word (meditatio) and a period of contemplation (contemplatio) as well as the more obvious spoken prayer (oratio).  The group returned to St. Paul in Worcester for Evening Prayer, which was led by the St. Paul Festival Singers and director Michael Lizzotte.

Thursday, members met at the Boston Archdiocesan Choir School for Ezequiel Menendez’ address on “The Treasures of Hispanic Church Music”, and then for a session on interpretation of Gregorian chant by Dr. Theodore Marier, the founder of the Choir School.  After lunch, the group enjoyed a short concert by the BACS Boychoir and Handbells, and then read through works by CRCCM composers Richard Kidd, Brian Luckner, Robert Schaefer, Mark Thomas, Kevin Vogt, Leo Nestor, Peter Latona, James Barrett, and Ricardo Ramirez.  The day concluded with a banquet at the Park Plaza Hotel.

After Friday’s Morning Prayer service, members heard the Reverend James Moroney, Executive Director of the Secretariat for the Liturgy of the NCCB, speak about sacred song in the liturgy.  He discussed the importance of music to liturgical celebrations, as well as criteria for judging the value of individual compositions to Catholic worship.  Father Moroney then concluded the conference with the Rite of Departure and Blessing for Travelers.


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