A tradition of professional music
The Carmelite Priory has a long and distinguished tradition of professional music. Under John McCarthy’s direction, the choir played an important role in restoring polyphony to common liturgical use in this country, alongside the work of the choirs of Westminster Cathedral under R.R. Terry, and The Oratory under Henry Washington. It recorded Masses by Palestrina and Victoria, as well as two innovative ‘Plainsong to Polyphony’ records. Then, as now, the Choir of the Carmelite Priory has shown that sacred music sung with eloquence and skill draws the heart and mind towards the divine.
The issue of cost
A simple definition of ‘professional music’ is that the musicians are paid; those that provide the music do so as their profession. Engaging musicians of the calibre the choir currently boasts is significantly costly. Next year the Sir Giles Gilbert Scott church will be 60 years old; the priory, completed in 1889, will be 130 year years old. To facilitate the proper maintenance of these buildings, and in order to secure financial assistance from the Carmelite Order, the community in Kensington is making a number of changes to the church’s music from January.
Changes to the music
The choir currently sings the 11.00am Sunday Mass throughout the year; in 2019 we will sing on a termly basis, with vacations that coincide with educational institutions (details below). There will be fewer singers present on Sundays, mostly four singers instead of the current eight, with a consequent reduction in the choir’s repertoire. These changes represent a saving of over £20,000, reducing the music costs to £26,000.
Although this reduction in music is deeply saddening, the choir is working constructively with the community to support their work and to maintain a tradition of professional music that continues to enhance the church’s liturgy to the benefit of its parishioners.
We hope that in the fullness of time the music provision will be returned to full strength; financial assistance to facilitate this would be most warmly welcomed – please do get in touch if you are able to help.
Forrest-Heyther Partbooks 2018-19
As a result of these changes, we regret that the 2019 portion of our project will not be going ahead. We will try to include some of the music where possible, but the resources needed for the project as planned are no longer available. On the basis of our experience during 2019 we will see if planning a project for 2020 is possible.
The choir will be away and there will be no music at the 11.00am Mass on the following dates:
Sunday 17th February (Half term)
Sunday 28th April (Easter vacation)
Sunday 2nd June (Half term)
Sunday 28th July – Sunday 25th August inclusive (Summer vacation)
Sunday 27th October (Half term)
Sunday 29th December (Christmas vacation)
Apart from these periods of vacation, the choir will sing each Sunday, and for the following Masses:
Ash Wednesday (6th March)
The Easter Triduum
Ascension Thursday (30th May)
Our Lady of Mount Carmel (16th July)
St Thérèse of Lisieux (1st October)
St Teresa of Avila (15th October)
Christmas Eve and Morning
We will aim to produce regular music lists in 2019, most likely monthly. Be assured, though, that apart from the vacation weeks noted above, there will be music at the 11.00am Mass.