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Rhythm of Kyrie XVI: Gregorian Chant Instruction by Dr. Theodore Marier

The Regina Laudis Community had the great good fortune to record two compact discs under the direction of Dr. Theodore Marier, The Virgin Martyrs (1997) and Recordáre (2000) - which Dr. Marier considered the crowning achievement of his distinguished career. However, when he died in February of 2001, he had still one unfulfilled desire, which he did not hesitate to charge the community with completing. He had made notes towards a book that would lay out what he saw as the fundamental principles of the chant. It would be the community's work to put those notes in final form and record sung examples to illustrate each point, resulting in A Gregorian Chant Master Class CD and companion textbook. This product is available for purchase in our Monastic Art Shop.

This daunting mission was possible to accomplish only through the collaboration of innumerable people, most notably, Scott Turkington, a former student and trusted assistant of Dr. Marier's who helped compile the final text and conducted both the Abbey choir and the Stamford Schola Gregoriana for the musical examples on the CD. We also were blessed to work again with Travis Pomposello, producer, and his engineer Jim Stauffer. The project could not have been undertaken without the generous support of Mrs. Suzanne Marier, Dr. Marier's daughter, and Rev. Fr. Robert A. Skeris, President of the Dom Mocquereau Foundation and the Church Music Association of America.

The musical examples and chants are sung by the choir of the Benedictine nuns of the Abbey of Regina Laudis and the Stamford Schola Gregoriana, conducted by Scott Turkington. The commentary is spoken by Dr. Marier himself, with supplementary explanations by Scott Turkington. Gregorian Chant Master Class includes a textbook and CD outlining ten fundamental points of style distilled by Dr. Marier from over fifty years of teaching experience and explained in his own voice. These ten Instructions are accompanied by explanations and sung examples. Together, the book and companion CD offera unique method of instruction designed for choir directors, teachers and individual students, making it possible for anyone to be initiated into the art of the chant.

Selected introductory segments from the CD are available below.
1 Instruction One: Legato - Play (0:40)
2 Instruction Two: Uniform Ensemble Sound
3 Instruction Three: Scales and Solfège
4 Instruction Four: Intonation
5 Instruction Five: Rhythm - Play (0:52)
6 Instruction Six: Introducion to Neums
7 Instruction Seven: Neums - Play (0:49)
8 Instruction Eight: Neums
9 Instruction Nine: Expressive Neums - Play (0:49)
10 Instruction Ten: Psalm Tones - Play (0:59)
11 Chant Repertory: Pueri Hebræorum
12 Chant Repertory: Pange Lingua
13 Chant Repertory: Victimæ Pascali Laudes
14 Chant Repertory: Kyrie IX
15 Chant Repertory: Gloria IX
16 Chant Repertory: Sanctus IX
17 Chant Repertory: Agnus IX
18 Chant Repertory: Benedicamus Domino

Gregorian Chant, that 1300-year old art form, has recently made a comeback as a pop genre… Although various books and websites offer help in deciphering the square-note notation printed on unfamiliar four line staffs, experienced professionals as well as curious newcomers will want to explore A Gregorian Chant Master Class, an instructional handbook and CD from the Abbey of Regina Laudis, in Bethlehem, Connecticut….The musical examples are expertly sung, and aptly illustrate each topic.…Surely there is something here for everyone (even, perhaps, fans of "Gregorian Chill-out") in this beautifully presented volume.
From a review in Opera News, by Judith Malafronte

This last gift from the legacy of Theodore Marier will help us move toward clarity amid the chaos and cacophony of present day liturgical music. Even the least skillful choir will find that these clear instructions and well-recorded examples will make it possible for them to sing the Chant - which the Second Vatican Council continued to hold up as the ideal of Church music - with beauty and appeal.
Thomas H. Connolly Professor Emeritus of Music, University of Pennsylvania

Not only is the book a treasure because of its content, but it is beautiful to behold; the printing and design is done with such care and distinction - I don't know another like it.
Ronald Arnatt, D. Mus., Director of Music, St. John's Episcopal Church, Beverly, Massachusetts

Specific topics are addressed (it is cheering that the first chapter is "Legato"), for the basics of modal scales and ensemble (the phrase "control of the vowel" is wonderfully non-violent) to the complex matters of notation and expression (within the traditions set forth in the nineteenth century by the monks of Solesmes Abbey in France). One topic builds on another as the subtleties and refinements of this repertoire are revealed. The musical examples are expertly sung, and aptly illustrate each topic with regard to the supple inner groupings of two and three notes, which when observed and executed properly, animate and invigorate the vocal line. A clever fold-out cover details all the notational devices and their meaning and the appendix includes … Psalm tones, a basic chant repertory and rules for finding the rhythmic inflections. Surely there is something here for everyone (even, perhaps, fans of "Gregorian Chill-out") in this beautifully presented volume."
From a review in Opera News, by Judith Malafronte

A fascinating window into the Solesmes approach to singing chant .... The recorded excerpts by the professed nuns of Regina Laudis and the professional male singers of the Stamford Schola Gregoriana reveal the extraordinary powers of the Solesmes method to shape chant performance. A Gregorian Chant Master Class represents a practical and historical document of rare value.
Alexander Blachly, Professor and Director of Choral Music University of Notre Dame, 1992 recipient of the Noah Greenberg Award given by the Musicological Society to stimulate historically aware performances and the sturdy of historical performing practices.

I had years of singing, but absolutely no experience singing in choir or directing a choir, and no experience at all with Gregorian chant.... For months I pieced together what I needed from a variety of books....Then a couple of weeks ago I received my copy of Dr. Marier's work. I wish I had purchased this first! This book and CD is EXACTLY what the burgeoning parish schola needs to get started. The exercises are simple, basic, and just what are needed to learn chant BY DOING, not just in theory....With this tool, every beginning schola can have the benefit of an experienced master to guide them.
Matthew A.C. Newsome Director of the Sancta Maria Gregorian Schola Sylva, North Carolina