Sunday, 15 May 2016

Solemn Sacred Sounds from the Sunshine State

Queensland is the second largest state by land mass of the Commonwealth of Australia. Its tropical and subtropical climates create warm, humid conditions for much of the year, and make the state prone to cyclones.

The majority of its inhabitants reside along the vast eastern coastline that stretches for some 3,000 kilometres (1,900 miles).

Brisbane, its capital city, sits at latitude 27.4710° S, longitude 153.0234° E, placing it at the far south-eastern corner of the state. Much of its charm is derived from it being situated on the Brisbane River, a sizeable, navigable freshwater channel, albeit a progressively salty one as it flows headlong into the expanse of the Pacific.

Brisbane was named after Scotsman Sir Thomas Brisbane, erstwhile British Army officer serving under the Duke of Wellington and later appointed Governor of New South Wales (when the colony of New South Wales also encompassed the area that became the colony, and later the state, of Queensland).

In recent years, the Catholic climate in Queensland has been somewhat tempestuous - or perhaps rather more aplty, cyclonic. Doctrinally seen as falling (in many cases, well) short of what, as a crude generalisation, may be described as Catholic orthodoxy (whatever that may currently mean), and liturgically scarcely better, Queensland Catholicism was very much lying enfeebled in a field hospital.

The appointment in 2012 of Archbishop Mark Coleridge to Brisbane marked a turning point on both fronts. On the liturgical front, with which this blog is primarily concerned, His Grace took swift action to bring the Masses at St Stephen's Cathedral more sharply into line with Catholic tradition, as espoused continuously from Pope St Pius X, through the documents of the Second Vatican Council, and even in the constituent documents of the papally legislated Novus Ordo Missal (a point put beyond any doubt by the masterful Pope Benedict XVI).

Chant and polyphony and other music fit for the Mass and the Divine Office (in other words, music that is unmistakably sacred in nature), often sung in the Latin Rite's universal, mother tongue, are now being given pride of place in worship at Brisbane's Catholic cathedral.

The cathedral's three choirs - the Cathedral Choir of men and boys, the Cathedral Schola of professional men and women, and the St Stephen's Chorale - come under the purview of the cathedral music department which was led by well respected Director of Music Dr Ralph Morton until his untimely death earlier this year. Mr James Goldrick was appointed Assistant Director of Music in 2014. Mastro Goldrick, a New South Welshman, studied at the University of Newcastle (NSW), and has previously held roles as organ scholar at Christ  Church Anglican Cathedral in Newcastle (NSW) and St Mary's Catholic Cathedral in Sydney.

Maestro Goldrick brings a wealth of musical talent as organist and choral director, and a keen appreciation of and sympathy for the musical patrimony of the Latin rite. This is demonstrated none more so than in the introduction, presumably at his initiative, of a regular solemn choral vespers at St Stephen's. A recording of one such service made on Sunday 7 February 2016 may be viewed below.

Also see this page for on demand videos of past Solemn Masses. And visit the cathedral's Facebook page for music lists for the 10 am and 12 pm Sunday Masses and 3 pm Vespers. For Pentecost 2016 you will hear:

10am Solemn Mass

Vierne - Messe Solennelle
Elgar - The Spirit of the Lord
Chant/Cochereau - Te Deum laudamus
Tournemire - Improvisation sur le 'Te Deum'

12pm Mass

Jonathan Dove - Missa Brevis
Palestrina - Dum complerentur
Victoria - Te Deum

3pm Solemn Vespers and Benediction

Psalmody - Plainsong
Office Hymn - Veni Creator Spiritus
Antiphon - Hodie completi sunt dies Pentecostes
Bevan - Magnificat primi toni
Tallis - Loquebantur variis linguis a 7

This blog congratulates Maestro Goldrick for his role in the critically important work to revive Catholic liturgical/musical patrimony in Northern Australia, and notes the not insignificant impact that the earlier restoration in Sydney, facilitated by Cardinal Pell and carried so expertly into effect by Maestro Thomas Wilson and his team, has had in the developments further north.