Vatican Conference for Composers

On 2-4 March 2017 the Pontifical Council for Culture held a conference entitled “Music and Church: Cult and Culture”, reflecting on 50 years since the instruction Musicam Sacram. (Further details here). The proceedings were subsequently published as a paperback book.

The Pontifical Council is offering another music conference on 13-15 September, this time entitled “Church and Composers: Words and Sounds”. (Full details here.)

This conference will be significantly different from the previous one. The typical way that conferences in Rome unfold is that one person stands up and reads a paper. Then another person reads another paper. Then a third person reads a third paper. And so on, over several days. Questions and discussions are not programmed into the schedule. They normally take place during coffee and meal breaks.

Cardinal Ravasi said in March last year that he had learned that this was not the best way of doing things, and that next time would be different. It appears that this will indeed be so. Yes, there are set-piece presentations, including contributions from John Rutter, Mgr Massimo Palombella, Mgr Marco Frisina and (most interestingly) Mgr Pierangelo Sequeri; but there will also be three sets of three workshop sessions, including one led by the Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Archbishop Arthur Roche, on “Translations, Music and Composition”.

In 2017, the “outside attractions” included an audience with Pope Francis and Vespers in the Sistine Chapel with the Sistina. This year at the end of the conference there is an optional excursion to Assisi for a concert in the Basilica Superiore.

The registration fee, a donation of 50 Euros (60 if you go to Assisi), is remarkably modest, considering what is on offer. Last year the aula of the Augustinianum’s conference centre was full. It is to be hoped that the same will be true of Lumsa University in September.

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