Sacred Choral Music Summer Program

A 2012 Course in Review

Singing at the Mass at St. Joseph’s Basilica (Edmonton) was a fitting culmination to Summer Programs of 2012.  Amid strains of the string quintet and the booming vocals of the pipe organ, the voice of Living Water College soared with words of praise and worship. This event marked the end of the Sacred Choral Program, a course of comprehensive choral study in polyphony, Gregorian chant, various motets and instruction perfecting vocal technique and music comprehension.

9 students experienced this immersion into sacred music during the first 2 weeks of August. As in our past programs, the individuals possessed various experience levels, but all of them came away with a fire kindled for beautiful and timeless church music. Schubert, Mozart, Bach and Vivaldi are just a few of the composers studied and whose music, says Maestro Lieflander, is easy to learn and sing because its beauty makes it simple and natural. Schubert’s Mass in G seemed daunting at first, but the studio rang with a beautiful Kyrie by Day 2.

The halls of the College were enlivened hourly with the sounds of mixed chorus. Each day began with an hour and a half rehearsal following Morning Prayer, giving the students a rousing start to the day.  Armed with over 30 works of the greats, Maestro created a harmonious choir from individuals whose common bond was the desire to learn better church music.  Some wanted to contribute to their parish music ministry, others wished to augment their personal training and previous choir experience, others were interested in learning something new and had always wanted to branch into choral work. Everyone gained a variety of tools and take-aways to enliven any area of practice.

The discussions led by Dr. Sean Collins moved the students to a wider vision of music.  No longer just a collection of notes on the page to which words are matched, music became a world not only of art, but of philosophy, theology and mathematics.  When this learning was paired with the inspiration of Mozart and Bach, the students obtained an even deeper understanding of the works they were singing.

Individual vocal coaching by Dr. Marilyn Kerley of Edmonton was a highlight for the students. Many had never received private voice instruction before and appreciated the opportunity to aquire techniques that will continue to improve their singing.

Always looming closer, the final concert of the Sacred Choral Program was a goal the students truly worked toward.  Featuring Schubert’s Mass in G, augmented by a refreshing variety of pieces, the concert featured songs of rejoicing, contemplation and thanksgiving.  Maestro Lieflander demonstrated that 2 weeks or, in some cases, a few days of practice made the achievement of these songs possible.  The students gave a performance that clearly transmitted to their audience the enjoyable and timeless beauty found in these great works.

Travelling to Edmonton the following morning, August 19th, the choral class arrived at St. Joseph’s Basilica to rehearse for the 12:15pm Mass with the Strathcona String Quartet and double bass, Lindsay Woolgar.  With the addition of the solo talents of Alex McCune, Simon Noster, and Kyra Tinant, the prayerful beauty of the Mass was brilliant. Maestro, whose first occupation in Germany was as a church organist, augmented congregational singing with the Basilica’s glorious pipe organ.  Assisting in the Mass was an appropriate conclusion to two weeks of training in Art, Faith and Reason.  As the Maestro says: “We were all transformed through beauty, through nobility, through philosophy…we all were enrapt with beauty Himself, who is God, in these two weeks.  It was transforming and life-changing.”

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