Sunday, December 24, 2006

And the Award for "Best Sight-Reading of a Musical Score" in 2006 goes to. . .

. . .the Los Angeles indult Mass chant schola at St John Vianney Chapel on 24 December.

And well-deserved it is, too. Or it would be if there were such an award. All the proper chants today were sung for the Fourth Sunday of Advent up until the sermon. At which point father read the little announcements, one of which was that, as the Fourth Sunday of Advent fell on 24 December, the Mass for today would be that of the Vigil of Christmas. The schola proceeded to sing the remainder of the chant propers for the Mass of the Vigil of Christmas. Whether the schola sight-read them at the time or scurried out the back to practice them during the sermon, we couldn't say. But either way, we are mightily impressed. We used to be fair to middlin' at sight-reading a vocal score (back when we had a voice and it was worth doing) and can still make a decent stab at a pipe score but Mass propers -- four line staff notation, square notes, and Solesmes neumes -- defeated us every time. It needed to be sounded out slowly and painfully and usually corrected by someone else. Figuring that stuff out is hard.

So, schola: this is the applause you didn't get after Mass. (Because chant isn't the only thing we do properly and according to order at the traditional liturgy.)