SSG Trustee Mary Rouse has been in Rome for ‘Music and Church’ goo.gl/s3temG, an international conference organised by the Pontifical Council for Culture. Read on for her account of the 3 days and a link to some exclusive pictures!
“There was an open invitation to those involved in music in the Catholic Church and I am here representing the Society of Saint Gregory. Martin Barry has come in his capacity as choirmaster and director of music at Salford Cathedral. Aside from Paul Inwood (an invited speaker) and Catherine Christmas, we are also the only representatives from the UK. Getting on for 400 delegates from around the world are here. We have had talks from Cardinals and composers, musicians and musicologists. We have revisited the document Musicam Sacram on its 50th anniversary, and examined its relevance today. The conference has revealed a certain amount of frustration at the quality of music in the Catholic Church today and many speakers were calling for formation and training, especially for clergy. Cardinal Ravasi, the Council President, has promised that the conference is just the beginning of a process, wanting to move “from the monody of presentation to the polyphony of dialogue”. That is something to look forward to. A bonus has been the special privileges that being part of the conference brought. Vespers in the Sistine Chapel, followed by an impromptu concert by Sistine Chapel Choir. We also celebrated mass in St Peter’s Basilica and were honoured to have a private audience with Pope Francis, and to each meet him individually. His Holiness, too, emphasized the need for greater formation, but also had much to say that was encouraging about the role music has played in the last 50 years of liturgical renewal.”