A correspondent of the Australian (Brisbane), writing' on music in Catholic churches in the colonies, says :—: —
In England and the Continent there is a revolution in the music of our church services going on, and it seems as if there were need for it here in the colonies .also. One almost^ regrets that Hadyn or Mozart ever wrote church music, considering the musical murders which are committed each Sunday in their names. Amateurs will rush ia where professionals fear to tread. Organists who have just come off exercises in elementary scales and waltz music for the 'pianofortay' tackle the most difficult of orchestral scores with a courage which would do them honour if there were no one to listen to them. Most of thei-e Masses have been written for full orchestras, powerful choruses, and with solo parts requiring the highest vocal power and training to do justice to them. And yet wherever two or three voice s — never mind the training or power or quality of voice — can be gathered together in our churches there shall Mozart and the rest of the masters be dragged up and murdered. All music has light and shade in it, except Mass music. There, it is the first necessity to screech out with all one's mi^ht, and each shout down the other or • burst.' This is justj ust what Mozart and the others meant. What is the use of being in a choir unless the congregation knows that your voice is there anyhow to.save the reputation of the composer or die on the top notes 1 Jn the name of common sense, why will not singers try some simple — tfnd bone the less beautiful music— easily within the power and compass of the average voice ? As ie is now, the music for the most part in our chtfrches is awful in the woful attempts that are made to surmount the difficulties rtf the old masters who wrote expressly for trained singers and musicians. There is not a single choir in Brisbane which does not make, more or less, an exhibition of itself nine times out of ten over these ' great ' Masses. The Vetper music in one of them is such a horrible mutilation of tho Latin aud the time, that the half hour while they have possession is a torture. Will it be a mortal offence to remind the conductors or organists that Vesper music is not written quite 'in the tempo of the ' Dead March.' The Latin language needs above all clearness o/ expression to bring out its beauties, and allied to music i.. is tbe most beautiful of all combinations of music and words. I have often heard a. soprano screech out her Latin like a modert Cockney, or rather with the accent of the * pavement ' on it. For example, those beautiful words, than which none are more common in choir music, ' Jesu Deus,' are almost always sung as ' Jaisu Daius,' and ' Glonar iv Excelsis Daio,' is now the invariable opening of the well known glorious words and strains. One has justj ust got over the shock when one hears ' Hosannar in Excelsis ' again. The beautiful round and open sound of the vowels is lost entirely, and the average church choir might just as well be howling out Sanscrit or Chinese as things are now the fashion. These exhibitions are being forbidden in many churches on the Continent and in the other colonies also. Children's voices applied to sjihple hymn and Mass music are infinitely preferable to the gffjntic efforts that are put forth by the average choir. But no imnvement will be maae until conductor* or organists are appoint^ who are trained musicians, who know how to pronounce and understand Latin, and who have tbe courage to excommunicate the garden variety of 'star amateurs' which at present infest all our choirs. Some reformers urge the substitution of the Gregorian music in lieu of the pt esent style of Mass music This is not possible until the choir is thoroughly well ground in its Latin, and the voices drilled into perfect harmony. It is a less painful process to listen to the mutilation of Mozart or Hadyn, than to that o£ St. Gregory.
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CHURCH MUSIC., New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXVII, Issue 20, 18 May 1899
CHURCH MUSIC. New Zealand Tablet, Volume XXVII, Issue 20, 18 May 1899
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