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OTG: Gregorian Chant Camp for Children

By Thomas Van (articles - email) | Jun 04, 2014

A reader, Daniel diSilva, sends us this short video he made about a musical summer camp at St. Anne Catholic Church in San Diego, CA. The camp immerses young people from age seven and up in the Church’s musical heritage of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.

Watching the video, I was struck by the emphasis that the children are “not singing for their teachers… [or] for their parents,” but for God – a bit different from the “performance” mentality that plagues most church choirs, regardless of age or level of proficiency.

DiSilva writes: “We are not so much promoting the camp itself as much as the ancient art of singing the ancient music of the Church.” To that end, the video covers a few interesting aspects of the chant tradition, from its unique rhythmic flow to the practice of harmonizing plainchant melodies.

This yet again demonstrates my conviction that there is no reason to insult the intelligence of children with shallow sentimentalism in art and music. Plainchant is not inaccessible, nor is it all that difficult to sing with a little training. Children, who are naturally open to learning new things, free from an agenda and not yet predisposed to like what is mediocre, are quite capable of rising to the level of their Catholic musical heritage.

The children in this video will grow up with a better idea of what good liturgical music is than the vast majority of professional Catholic church musicians today. May their tribe increase, so that one day camps like this will exist all over the country.

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