PIMS was founded by Pope Pius X and opened in 1911. Pope Paul VI established the Consociatio Internationalis Musicae Sacrae, whose secretariat is housed at the Institute. Paul VI also founded, in 1975, the School of Gregorian semiology. In 1983 Pope John Paul II gave the entire property of the abbey of San Girolamo in Urbe to the Institute, where it is still housed.
To celebrate the anniversary, next week PIMS is putting on a large-scale conference (see the schedule here) . As you see, I’ve been invited to make a presentation at a round table on the final day.
The schedule is rich in musicological offerings – many fascinating presentations zeroing in on one location (generally European, or a mission land importing European culture) in a particular era, such as the sequence in Tridentine codices of the 15th century, or the lauda in Renaissance Mantua, or music for Corpus Christi in Milan in the 18th century. This is all to the good, and I expect to learn a lot.
But part of me wishes there were a bit more explicitly on liturgical theology, the role of music in liturgy, the relationship between liturgy and culture and the implications for music, and the like. No matter how beautiful the masterpieces of the Western-European treasury of sacred music are, the really tough questions concern why to use this music, or even whether to use it. The challenges thrown up by the liturgical reform and by the nature of contemporary cultures are complicated and also quite fascinating.
The presenters on the schedule come from a variety of cultures, Western and non-Western. I’ll certainly have my eyes and ears open whenever questions arise about the Church’s (Western) musical heritage in diverse cultures.
The abbot of Solesmes is speaking. So is Cardinal Grochelewski, the Vatican’s head of Catholic education. An audience with the Holy Father is anticipated. Arvo Pärt is getting an honorary doctorate. The new Italian edition of the works of Palestrina is being premiered. I’m excited.