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– The choral ensemble Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis was founded in 1998.
– Following the 1988-1990 political changes in Eastern Europe, new perspectives opened in church activities. In this paradigm, our ensemble was the first schola cantorum in Romania with the exclusive goal to cultivate Western liturgical music. We assumed a twofold responsibility: on the one hand, the spiritual protection of historic musical monuments, on the other hand, the functional re-introduction of Gregorian chanting into ecclesiastical liturgy.
– Since 1998, several founding members of the Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis had a chance for professional training, thanks to the Gregorian Society of Hungary and its leader, György Béres. After returning to Transylvania, they continue a systematic and consistent autodidactic practice.
– The majority of the singers within the Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis are not professional musicians and not all of them are Roman Catholic. What connects them is their love of service through authentic liturgical music as well as their acceptance of the challenge for excellence.
The name of Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis
– The Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis was founded in 1998 within the Roman Catholic community of Monostor, situated at the Western side of Kolozsvár (Transylvania, Romania).
– The Medieval settlement of Kolozsmonostor has gradually merged with the city of Kolozsvár. During the 11th century, (around 1060, according to the tradition) a Benedictine abbey was founded here that lasted until the Reformation. During the 13th through the 14th centuries it was renowned for its ecclesiastical/notarial function.
– In the place of the once Benedictine monastery, today we find the Gothic-Neogothic Our Lady church that belongs to the parish of Monostor.
– In the process of preparation, the Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis studies the texts first, then the melody appropriate to interpret the text. Beside the quadratnotation generally used in recording of the melodies, the Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis also interprets the two most important of the sign-systems that spread during the high-medieval time (still before the “invention” of musical notation): the neumatic system of Sanktgallen and Metz. These graphems carry much more information for the expert than the quadratnotation which only records the melody and the respective intervals.
– The linguistical, prosodical, and, then, the liturgical-theological interpretation of the texts is achieved by a careful articulation of specific melodic turns, the notes, the neums amd neum-clusters. The Gregorian semiology that originates from Solesmes in France after the mid-20th century, uses comparative and inductive methods to render the neumatic messages ever more understandable and instructive for in their interpretation.
– Some of the most significant scholars of Gregorian semiology were Eugčne Cardine, Godehard Joppich, Rupert Fischer, Johannes Berchmans Göschl, Luigi Agustoni, Cornelius Pouderoijen, Alberto Turco, Heinrich Rumphorst, Stefan Klöckner, Franz Karl Prassl and Georg Béres.
What is liturgy?
a) Communal, b) public and c) regulated worship service. All three
aspects are equally significant.
a) Private prayer, although a form of worship, is not considered liturgy because it is not communal.
b) Liturgy may not deny anybody access; it may not be exclusive.
c) The liturgical texts were formed through ecclesiastical practice and by institutions. This unified feature of liturgy makes its communal practice possible.
In a theological sense, liturgy is an elevated and reciprocal dialogue with God. The two “pillars” of Christian liturgy are:
1) the holy mass (didactical and sacrificial worship service; Eucharistic) and
2) the liturgy of prayer meetings (officium, Liturgy of the Hours).
The text and the music of the liturgy
|I. It took centuries for the liturgical texts of the
church to achieve its present form, and they will keep changing
gradually with the passing of future centuries – and yet they remain
eternally valid. The liturgical texts are fundamentally biblical,
but they also reflect the spirituality of early and medieval
Christianity. The deep meaning of the texts, glimpsing mysteries,
manifests itself mainly through the liturgical Latin. Modern
(national) languages are hardly capable of conveying these nuanced
meanings in their integrity.
II. The most common modes of expression of liturgical texts is through reciting and chanting. The primary function of the singing voice in liturgy is to make the text utterable, clearly audible, articulate and festive. The linguistical-intellectual-spiritual content is served by musical means. Therefore liturgical singing is not a supplementary “adornment” or an optional aesthetical addition, but a linguistic necessity. In other words, we do not sing in the liturgy but we sing the liturgy.
Sacred music – church music – liturgical music
The difference between these categories is not of degree:
a) the message of sacred music is necessarily religious in content – regardless of it musical means.
b) church music mediates Christian denominational contents; it is the music of church events and communal gatherings. Significant musical accomplishments often fall into this category. The text of choral church music does not necessarily follow the liturgical text.
c) the liturgical music is always based on the text of the “official” liturgy (in Missals, Graduals, Antiphonarys). Its musical language is the church’s own, “evolved from within”, autochton, and mostly defined by the prosody of the liturgical language (see cantus planus).
Liturgical musical languages – cantus planus
All that survived in Western Christianity is the Gregorian chant and some of the Ambrosian liturgical singing tradition around Milan, Italy. (The Gregorian memorializes the name of Pope St. Gregory the Great, while the Ambrosian, St. Ambrose, Bishop of Mediolanum.) Centuries ago, however, several other liturgical-musical languages had been in use, such as the Gallic (the Western part of the Franc Empire), the Aquitan (North-East from Venice), the Beneventan (South-Italy), the Mozarab (Hispania), the Antique Roman (Rome, later Mid-Italy), etc.
In modern music history the designated collective name for these liturgical-musical languages is cantus planus (plainchant in English and French, canto plano in Spanish). Their common feature is that they are not subordinated to the classical metric system. It means that they rhythmically are free and follow the prosody of the Latin language. They lack instrumental accompaniment and they are monodic.
Gregorian and Pope Gregory
Gregorian chanting is the most wide-spread cantus planus for the Christian West. Historians of music and liturgy have made us aware that the reference to Pope Gregory (in the word of Gregorian) reflects later centuries’ intention to use the prestige of Pope St. Gregory the Great (around 540 – 604) in sanctioning the musical language of the Gregorian that crystallized in the 8th – 10th centuries.
Is Gregorian chant an art form?
It is not. Gregorian chants – like the other forms of cantus planus – belong to the category of applied music. In order to gain a better understanding, we offer parallel reflections.
“What is Gregorian chant?”
“History seems to have been the best answer to this question. Rightly so, for Gregorian is the only composed music of Europe that has been flowing like a stream for two thousands years. The psalms of the ancient Near-East, the tones of calling, greeting, reading, and litany are the tributaries of its ever widening riverbed; the echoes of Mediterranean and Alpine melismata and antique hymnody stir its waves. The multicolored melodies of so many traditions swell with their thousands of antiphonal types and refraining plays of responsorial. During the high Middle Ages, new melody patterns of the sequences, tropes, the ordinarium, and compositions in a new style sprang forth, refreshing the river with the foretaste of the modern age.
Following the Renaissance, in the new world of polyphony, the mighty river with thousands of wild confluences, had to be brought under control. In the new bed of the 19th century, it represented the monodic bearer of Europe’s voice of polyphony and carried fresh energies into the new musical world built on historical traditions.
Unfortunately, it could not avoid the tragic fate of all human creations: the very liturgy that had given birth to the Gregorian, today abandons it. And it does in a time when the works of its restoration are ever more promising. It has yet to be seen whether the enthusiastic secular nature-conservancy will save it for posterity.” (Benjamin Rajeczky O.Cist.)
The repertory of Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis
Thesaurus cantus gregoriani, Europe
Cantica gregoriana hungarica
László Dobszay, AZ ANTIFONA (Budapest 1995)
Gregorian camps for children
The main purpose of the Schola Association and the Schola Gregoriana
Monostorinensis choir is to arouse children’s interest and to initiate
them in the domain of the authentic liturgical music. The gregorian
summer camps for children are meant to help us realise this purpose.
Beside learning gregorian chants, these children are given the
opportunity to gain knowledge from several related domains: religion,
history of the Church and of the liturgy, grammar and text
interpretation. The schedule of the camp leaves enough time for children
to play and make trips beside the daily four hours of learning. During
the camp there are several occasions to participate on the liturgical
service – this is one of the things the camp prepares children to.
The teachers and leaders of the camps are members of the Schola
Gregoriana Monostorinensis choir.
Since 2001 the interest for these summer camps is continuously
increasing. At the beginning only children from Cluj (Klausenburg,
Kolozsvár) came to this camp, but during the years this changed and now
children from several other cities come to learn about the gregorian
chant (Sibiu / Hermannstadt, Deva, Tîrgu-Mureş / Neumarkt, Budapest).
Beside learning gregorian chants, these children are given the opportunity to gain knowledge from several related domains: religion, history of the Church and of the liturgy, grammar and text interpretation. The schedule of the camp leaves enough time for children to play and make trips beside the daily four hours of learning. During the camp there are several occasions to participate on the liturgical service – this is one of the things the camp prepares children to.
The teachers and leaders of the camps are members of the Schola Gregoriana Monostorinensis choir.
Since 2001 the interest for these summer camps is continuously increasing. At the beginning only children from Cluj (Klausenburg, Kolozsvár) came to this camp, but during the years this changed and now children from several other cities come to learn about the gregorian chant (Sibiu / Hermannstadt, Deva, Tîrgu-Mureş / Neumarkt, Budapest).
(Tamás Jakabffy, Vasárnap [Sunday] July 12th, 2002.) Recordings
(Tamás Jakabffy, Vasárnap [Sunday] July 12th, 2002.)
RecordingsClick on the pictures!