CANTICUM NOVUM. On Liturgy and Sacred Music by Aurelio Porfiri

Aurelio PORFIRI

CANTICUM NOVUM. On Liturgy and Sacred Music (eng, 2015)

ebook (Mobi)

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Aurelio Porfiri is a composer, organist, conductor, writer and educator. He was substitute organist for Vatican City Vicariate in Saint Peter’s Basilica (1993-2008), organist in charge for the papal audience (2001-2008), director of music in Santa Susanna, the American church in Rome (1999-2008). He has spent 7 years living and teaching in Macau (China), where he was University Professor and Director of Choral Activities for several educational institutions. His compositions are published in Italy, Germany, China, France and USA. He has published 15 books and several-hundred articles.

Canticum Novum by Aurelio Porfiri is a book that collects many of his articles published in Views from the Choir Loft during 2015. Aurelio Porfiri, an experienced church musician, has tried to present the situation of Church Music of today in a straightforward manner. In the preface, the editor of Views from the Choir Loft Jeffrey Ostrowski has stated what follows: “When I think of Aurelio Porfiri, I cannot help but recall these words.  While it is true that I came into contact with him initially owing to our mutual  interest in the modal accompaniment of Gregorian chant, as I came to know him  better I realized that he was a “true musician” according to Scriabin’s definition.  Many of his talents are known to the public, yet some are not; for example, his  skill in video production.  In today’s situation, having multiple talents is almost a prerequisite for a Church  musician. Some might lament this, asking, “Why can’t we return to the days  when one could simply conduct or play organ? Why must today’s Church musician  possess so many skills just to make a living?” I cannot answer that question;  I can only affirm that it is so. Moreover, as Mr. Porfiri has so often reminded us  in his articles, if any progress is to be made in the field of Church music, we must  first obtain a clear view of the current situation, without any distortion or sugar  coating.  In addition to his various pursuits—scholarship, choral arts, and the like—Mr.  Porfiri is an inspiration to many because he is a happy and passionate person.  These characteristics are very rare, I’m afraid to say, when it comes to Church  musicians. He is also a loyal Catholic with a beautiful family who lacks the  “hang-ups” of a previous generation. For example, he appreciates the beauty  of both the Ordinary and Extraordinary forms of the Mass, and does not feel  compelled to denigrate either one”.  This book is not against the ordinary form or the extraordinary form, but intends to bring the issue of liturgical music to the general attention.

Liturgical music, or sacred music, is undergoing a huge crisis. In this book Aurelio Porfiri intends to present solid arguments for rethinking the role of this integral part of the liturgy in the overall celebration. The author uses a simple and direct language, so to render this book a pleasant readable experience. It is not technical in anyway, but a book to lead people to think about the situation we find in our catholic churches around the world. The author has said in one of the chapters: “Undoubtedly one of the major problems is the false understanding about the role of music in the liturgy; a role that is not to be there on its own, per conto suo, we would say in Italian. Music and liturgy are intimately connected. So, without the deep understanding of the liturgy, there is no liturgical music. It is useless to fight, sending back and forth phrases from Sacrosanctum Concilum or Saint Pius X’s Motu Proprio: everything has to be understood in the framework of a deep attention and respect for the liturgy. Everything will follow from this. Words are important. This is why I am diverging the attention from the music to the liturgy. Of course music has a life in itself, but when liturgical, it becomes like a bride that from that moment will be intimately connected with her husband”. A book for everyone, church musicians or lay believers alike, for whoever wants to understand the role of this great musical tradition in the history of the Church.

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