James MacMillan and the Musical Modes of Mary and the Cross

Sacred Music at Notre Dame and the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center with support from the Nanovic Institute and the College of Arts and Letters present the festival conference James MacMillan and the Musical Modes of Mary and the Cross.

From the conference overview:

Join us for three days of creativity, connection and debate around the issues of composing and performing sacred music today. We invite composers and conductors of sacred music to share their work in the choral readings, discuss aspects of composing and commissioning, and to engage in the panels and workshops. We also welcome performers and church musicians to enjoy and learn from this extraordinary encounter.

Guests include James MacMillan, who will be in residence to attend the premiere of his new motet “Cum vidisset Jesus,” as well as panelists Libby Larsen, Daniel Kellogg, and other distinguished guests.

For more information, and registration details, please visit the conference Web site.

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  1. While the post is mostly for information purposes, this (somewhat edited) page seems worthy of discussion, and of interest to more than composers or even musicians.

    What makes “sacred music” sacred?

    http://theology.nd.edu/graduate-programs/master-of-sacred-music/conference-mary-and-the-cross/topics/

    The theme and problem of sacred music in our time is complex. Sacred music has many meanings to different people, intrinsically, and depending on the context of creation and performance.

    The Genre: There are some types of music that are used mainly for prayer and worship, such as Jewish cantillation, Gregorian psalm tones, and Muslim prayer calls.

    The Text: Many works of sacred music are not different from secular music in style, except that they have religious texts. The most sung texts in the Christian tradition the Psalms have been set in countless styles.

    The Function: Music sung in places of prayer for communal worship, no matter its style and origin, becomes sacred.

    Extended Contexts: Much music that is sacred in origin is sung and played today from concert halls to the cinema.

    Spirituality: From the dawn of time, human beings have expressed their relationship with the divine through their music.
    .
    The Materials: Many composers in our time have the freedom to employ materials and styles that vary widely in terms of origin and configuration, from worldwide religious and musical traditions…

    The Impact: Is the objective of Sacred Music to create a sense of non-hierarchical participation in the congregation, or rather, to evoke a higher spiritual plane of abiding values transcending the crass realities of our world? Are these objectives mutually exclusive? What is the impact of multi-cultural music in a sacred service beyond the immediate advocacy for inclusiveness? These and other important questions arise from the contemplation of the role that sacred music has played in all cultural traditions, and the impact it can have in today’s society.

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