fbpx

Academics

Music

The man that hath not music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils.
-William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice (V.1)

Because true education involves the domestication—not the suppression—of the soul’s raw passions, and since music touches this non-rational part of man, an education in good music is vital.  Aristotle, for instance, held music to be the most important of subjects in the early education of the children of his day, “not because it is necessary, or because it is useful, but simply because it is liberal and something good in itself.”  And this is precisely the definition of the liberal arts: the study of things that make us free, more human and truer to our nature, and not simply the acquisition of particular vocational skills that help in getting a job.

It was with the coming of the Christian dispensation, however, that a significant new facet was added to the Ancient World’s high estimation of music in education.  With the regular, even daily, celebration of the Mass and Divine Office, music became an important part—an integral part as various 20th century popes and Vatican II would later teach—of the worship of the Triune God.  So to the end of improving the musical ars celebrandi of the Church in the first millennium, for example, Charlemagne ordered in 789 AD that schoolboys needed to learn “psalms, notes, chants, the computus, and grammar in each monastery and bishop’s house.”  Thus the monastery and episcopal schools of the day—the equivalent of today’s grammar and secondary schools—were in essence turned into “choir schools.”

This was a normal means of education for youth for centuries, but this was not merely the learning of “practical skills” necessary for the performance of a religious “ritual”; this was schooling in a liberal art which enabled its practitioners to be free, more human, truer to their nature in their leisure time.  And what is the most important thing that a man, understood properly as homo religiosus, can do in his leisure time, especially on the day of rest—the Dies Domini—but to worship God in song?  As St. Augustine wrote, “Cantare amantis est.” (“song is an expression of love,” the love of God)

To this end, Christendom College cultivates the treasury of sacred music whose integral parts include Gregorian chant and the sacred vocal polyphony of masters such as Palestrina, Victoria, and Josquin des Prez.  Under the direction of a competent Kapellmeister, the students strive to render present, in resonant beauty, the sonic vesture of divine worship.  This is a part of the College’s proud heritage of maintaining a high liturgical culture which includes three choral ensembles that sing at the College’s liturgy: the Christendom Choir and the Palestrina Chamber Choir, which sing polyphonic motets and Mass settings, and the Schola Gregoriana for men, which beautifies the Sunday liturgy as well by chanting the traditional propers.  Four annual choral scholarships and a minor in liturgical music are also a part of the College’s liturgical music program.  Along with Pope Benedict XVI, we endeavor “to seek what is worthy of the Church’s worship . . . [for] beauty and love form the true consolation in this world, bringing it as near as possible to the world of the resurrection.

Liturgical Music Track in Theology

Since sacred music is an integral part of the Church’s solemn liturgy and therefore, the highest of the liturgical arts, Christendom College will be offering a new track in liturgical music as an option within the theology major starting in the fall of 2024. The purpose of this track is to explore the Church’s official theology of sacred music, to better understand music itself as a liberal art, and to offer training in the practice of liturgical music.

Requirements

In addition to taking THEO 301 (Moral Theology) and THEO 302 (New Evangelization and Apologetics), the student in this track will, along with his fellow Theology majors, take THEO 308 (De Deo Trino) and THEO 312 (De Verbo Incarnato).

However, for the five required theology electives, those in the Liturgical Music track must take electives related to Sacred Music, Liturgy or Sacraments. Also, competence in Latin specifically is required of those in the Liturgical Music track.

The student will also take five music courses: MUSC 302 (Elementary Music Theory), MUSC 302A (Advanced Music Theory), MUSC 302B (Form and Counterpoint), MUSC 305A (Music History I) and MUSC 305B (Music History II). In addition, three practica courses must be taken: MUSC 310 (Choral Apprenticeship), five semesters of MUSC 311 (Lessons) in either voice or organ and eight semesters of an approved choir (any exemptions to be handled by the director of the program.)

 

Finally, the student in this track must do a senior thesis/recital (MUSC/THEO 512), consulting with a thesis director.

What is the comparison between a Liturgical Music Track in the Theology major and a traditional Music Major?

This degree has close to the same number of music credits required in a standard liberal arts degree in music. A typical liberal arts undergraduate degree in music is thirty (30) credits. If one adds up the required music electives, the practica courses and the Gregorian chant course, which would normally be taken, and the Senior Thesis/Recital, this comes to twenty-eight (28) music credits for Christendom’s liturgical music track. 

So, the main difference between the degree proposed here and a standard liberal arts degree in music is that more theology courses need to be taken for the Christendom degree. To those who would see these extra theology courses as a hinderance, these extra courses are to the end of helping the student musician better understand the church’s teachings on the liturgy and liturgical music.

Is this a demanding program?

Yes, it is very demanding, given that this program requires taking a total of forty-six (46) credits, which is approximately the same as a combined major and minor. Also, if the eight (8) semesters of non-credited, but required choir are included, this is even more work. This is why it is important that the student inform Dr. Poterack early on as to his or her desire to be a part of this program.

Is an audition required for entry into the program?

Yes, the initial audition which determines entry into the main 10 AM Mass choir will also determine entry into the music degree program, for those who are interested. Then, the entire freshman year that follows will be the student’s probationary year before any class work is done. Also, a brief diagnostic exam in music fundamentals will be given. If the student does not pass this exam, the student will be required to take MUSC 101A and MUSC 102A his freshman year.

If the student wishes to focus on organ, a brief audition will also be arranged to determine if this is a wise choice.

What will graduates with this type of major be able to do?

There are a number of things which a graduate of this program would be equipped to do, among which are:

  • Parish music director.
  • Parish organist.
  • Vocal music teacher in a parish grade or high school.
  • Graduate student in organ, choral conducting, musicology, music theory or composition or—theology.
What would a class schedule for a student in this program look like?
Fall SemesterSpring Semester
FreshmenChoir (0)Choir (0)
Non-Music Required Core (18)Non-Music Required Core (18)
Total Credits: 18Total Credits: 18
SophomoreChoir (0)Choir (0)
Organ or Voice Lesson (1)Organ or Voice Lesson (1)
Non-Music Required Core (18)Non-Music Required Core (18)
Total Credits: 19Total Credits: 19
JuniorChoir (0)Choir (0)
Organ or Voice Lesson (1)Organ or Voice Lesson (1)
Music History I (3)Music History II (3)
Elementary Music Theory (3)Advanced Music Theory (3)
De Verbo Incarnato (3)De Deo Trino (3)
Theology of Worship (3)*Gregorian Chant (3)*
Non-Music Required Core (6)Non-Music Required Core (6)
Total Credits: 19Total Credits: 19
SeniorChoir (0)Choir (0)
Organ or Voice Lesson (1)Recital/Final Project (3)
Form and Counterpoint (3)Ecclesiology (3)*
Ratzinger’s Thought (3)*Choral/Organ Apprenticeship (2)
Sacraments (3)*
Total Credits: 10Total Credits: 8
*Possible Elective for Theology Requirement.
TOTAL CREDITS: 130

Music Minor

Requirements for the Liturgical Music Minor

This minor, which is administered by the undergraduate Department of Theology, requires eighteen (18) hours of study after the stated prerequisite:

  • Prerequisite for MUSC 302: Competency in Music Fundamentals, as demonstrated by a departmental test or by successful completion of MUS 101-102 (A-Modern, B-Chant).

MUSC 101-102 do not count toward the student’s GPA or as fulfilling graduation requirements.

Students may choose between a general Liturgical Music Minor and a Liturgical Music Minor with Organ Emphasis which require the passing of a Service Playing examination.

Required courses:

  • MUSC 302–Music Theory and Composition (3 credits)
  • MUSC/THEO 303–Theology of Worship and Its Music (3 credits)
  • MUSC 304–Gregorian Chant (3 credits)
  • MUSC 305–History of Music in Western Civilization (3 credits)
  • MUSC 310/312 Choir/Organ Apprenticeship (2 credits)

General Minor

  •  MUSC 311–Lessons (1 credit)

One of the following:

  • THEO 402–Ecclesiology (3 credits)
  • THEO 404–The Sacraments (3 credits)
  • THEO 451–Second Vatican Council (3 credits)

Or

Organ Emphasis

  • MUSC 311 – Organ Lessons (4 credits)
  • Service Playing examination

MUSC 303 and 304 require minimal reading competency of the Roman Rite’s liturgical texts.

For students considering a Minor in Liturgical Music, Latin is encouraged as the core curriculum language requirement.

Students who complete a Liturgical Music Minor will

  • Be able to demonstrate an understanding of the key principles of the Church’s theology of the liturgy and its music relevant to being a church musician.
  • Be able to show a working knowledge of the music proper to the Roman rite: Gregorian chant
  • Be able to rehearse and conduct a choir and/or Gregorian schola.
  • Be able to demonstrate a knowledge of the fundamentals of the history and theory of music in western civilization relevant to the liberally educated student.

Organ Practicum

The organist practicum, which is practically oriented, consists of twelve credits. Besides some classes, it requires four semesters of organ lessons and a one-semester internship in a parish or at the college as well as the passing of the AGO Service Playing Certificate examination.

MUSC 311 Organ Lessons            4 credits (four semesters)

MUSC 302 Music Theory              3 credits (one semester)

MUSC 304 Gregorian Chant            3 credits (one semester)

MUSC 312 Organ Apprenticeship         2 credits (one semester)

Service Playing examination

———————————-

Foundational Curriculum and Advanced Courses

MUSC 101-102 (A-Modern and B-Chant)  These courses involve learning how to read, respectively, basic modern and Gregorian notation, in preparation for other courses (MUSC 302 and MUSC 304 ) or for admission to the choir or schola at the director’s discretion.  Exemption from the course may be earned by successfully passing a departmental exam.  Each course is the equivalent work-load of a one-credit course.  MUSC 101-102 do not count toward the student’s GPA or as fulfilling graduation requirements.

MUSC 302–Music Theory and Composition   This course begins with a brief review of the fundamentals of music and proceeds to the study of species counterpoint and figured bass.  These two disciplines were considered prerequisites to the study of composition during what was known as the Common Practice Era (c. 1600-1900), a period of harmonic common practice which included the Baroque, the Classical, and the Romantic eras.  Thus students will be drilled in some of the basic harmonic and part-writing principles learned by the greatest composers of Western civilization.  Students will also learn to read melodies at sight and transcribe them by ear.  At the end of the semester, the student will be required to write some simple compositions.  (3 credits)  Prerequisite:  A basic reading knowledge of music (in both treble and bass clefs) is required.

MUSC/THEO 303–Theology of Worship and Its Music   This course provides an introduction to the subject by analyzing and expounding the apposite documents of the ecclesiastical Magisterium, from the Motu Proprio of St. Pius X (1903) to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Sacrosanctum Concilium) of Vatican II and the instruction Musicam Sacram of 1967. (3 credits)

MUSC 304—Gregorian Chant  This course will involve a systematic study of the different genres of Gregorian chant in the Mass and Divine Office.  (3 credits)  Prerequisite (not a co-requisite): MUSC 101B and 102B or demonstrated competency.

THEO 304 (Practicum): Theology of Worship and of its Music   This course offers practical experience in applying sound theological principles to weekly sung worship, including the music Aproper to the Roman liturgy, Gregorian chant, according to the Ward Method.   Pre- or co-requisite: THEO 303; no musical prerequisites.  (1 credit hour: Practicum may not be repeated for credit.)

MUSC 305–History of Music in Western Civilization  This course is a one-semester introduction to the history of music in Western civilization.  Since this course is open to students with no musical background, it will begin with an overview of some of the simpler technical aspects of music that are a sine qua non for intelligent listening and discussion of this fine art.  After this, the course will deal with the study of the compositions, events, and people in music history, but also with writings about music and how music fits in with the culture and other arts of the times.  There will be a listening component in which students will be required to recognize recordings of important compositions in music history. (3 credits)

MUSC 310–Choir Apprenticeship  In this course the student works with the professor and a chaplain to organize, present, and direct a significant liturgical event (e.g. Sunday sung Vespers) in the life of the College.  (2 credits)  Prerequisite (not a co-requisite): One-year’s participation in Choir.  Open only to students minoring or majoring in Liturgical Music.

MUSC 311–Lessons Private musical lessons on a weekly basis for Liturgical Music Minors. Students may enroll in this course only by permission of the Director of Liturgical Music.  Normally, only lessons in organ or voice meet the requirements of this course.  Students  should consult the Director of Liturgical Music for more information about MUSC 311.  (1 credit)

MUSC 312–Organ Apprenticeship In this course the student works with the professor and a chaplain to organize, present, and play the organ at a significant liturgical event (e.g. Mass) in the life of the college. (2 credits) Prerequisite (not a co-requisite): One year’s participation in Choir. Open only to students minoring or majoring in Liturgical Music.

THEO 402–Ecclesiology or 404–The Sacraments or 451–The Second Vatican Council are available through the Department of Theology. (3 credits)

Scholarship Opportunities

The St. Cecilia Choral Scholarship

Opportunities at Christendom College:

According to the Christendom College Undergraduate Bulletin, the music program “cultivates the treasury of sacred music whose integral parts include Gregorian chant and the sacred polyphony of masters such as Palestrina, Victoria, and Josquin des Prez.  Under the direction of a competent Kapellmeister, the students strive to render present, in resonant beauty, the sonic vesture of divine worship.  This is a part of the College’s proud heritage of maintaining a high liturgical culture which includes . . . the Christendom Choir . . . and the Schola Gregoriana for men, which beautifies the Sunday liturgy as well by chanting the traditional propers.”

The Scholarship and Duties:

Next year, at least two scholarships will be available.  The first will be a scholarship for a woman (soprano or alto), that will consist of $4,500 in tuition reduction and free voice lessons throughout the year.  The second will be a scholarship for a tenor or bass voice, consisting of $4,500 in tuition reduction and free voice lessons throughout the year.

The recipient is expected to attend sectional and full rehearsals throughout the year, sing at the Sunday Mass, the First Friday Holy Hour, help out at weekday Masses, and perform other duties that will be discussed at the interview.

Although the pursuit of a music degree is not required for a vocal scholarship awardee, preference will be given to such applicants in the selection process. Also, any scholarship recipient not intending to pursue a music degree will be required to take a few music electives during his or her tenure at the college, depending on grade level and other factors. (This will be discussed and clearly spelled out in the scholarship contract.)

Skills Sought:

• Reliability and Punctuality
• Ability to lead a section.
• Ability to match vowels and pitch.
• Familiarity with foreign languages, particularly Latin.
• Strong sight singing and musicianship skills.
• Awareness of proper vocal technique and use of vocal palette to create stylistically appropriate performances.
• Familiarity with Gregorian chant. (Recommended, but not required.)

Application Process:

Fill out THIS FORM, which includes one recommendation from a voice teacher or choir director by February 1, 2024.

    1. Submit it along with a video recording for prescreening purposes. The recording must include one song from the repertoire listed below. It is not required that the format be a professional or studio recording, but the sound quality must be as good as possible.
    2. The repertoire for this prescreening should be a performance of either an Italian song from the seventeenth or eighteenth century or an English song (not a transcription). We recommend that this piece be chosen from such collections as 26 Italian Songs and Ariasedited by John Glenn Paton or Standard Vocal Literature edited by Richard Walters, to name just two.
    3. If you are selected to give a live audition (these are scheduled for Saturday, March 16, 2024), you will need to:
      • Prepare two works from the classical vocal repertoire from sources such as were listed above in #3.  One in Italian (or Latin), one in English. (Student must provide his own accompanist or sing a capella.)  You may not repeat the song or aria from the prescreening audition. Applicants will be evaluated on vocal technique, accuracy, musicality and tone.
      • Sight read a short musical excerpt.
      • Demonstrate tonal memory ability.
      • Be prepared for a short interview.

If you are selected as a scholarship recipient, you will have to sign a contract specifying your duties.

Benedict XVI Organ Scholarships

The Organ at Christendom College:

Christendom College holds the pipe organ “in high esteem, for it is the traditional musical instrument, and one that adds a wonderful splendor to the Church’s ceremonies and powerfully lifts up man’s mind to God and to heavenly things,” as the Second Vatican Council declared.

To this end the college had a four manual, 47 rank pipe organ specially built for its new chapel by Kegg pipe organ builders of Hartville, Ohio to beautify the liturgy.  This organ was installed in April 2023 and its stop list can be found here.  There is both an organ emphasis minor and a Liturgical Music Track within the Theology major.

The Scholarship and Duties:

There are two types of scholarships.

The first type is for the principal and assistant organist positions.  The principal organist position includes $6000 in tuition reduction and lessons throughout the year.  This organist plays at Sunday and Monday Masses. The assistant organist position includes $4000 in tuition reduction and lessons throughout the year.  This organist plays at weekday Masses.

The second type of scholarship is a $2000 scholarship offered to promising beginners along with lessons throughout the year who are given performance opportunities.

(All of the scholarships, which are potentially renewable every year, will be awarded at the discretion of the panel of judges and the amounts are subject to change.)

Requirements for Eligibility:

  • Must have already completed an application for general admission to the college.
  • Must pass an audition.
  • Must enroll in and complete a music degree program at the college.

Skills Sought:

  • Reliability and Punctuality.
  • Strong sight-reading and musicianship skills.
  • Ability to accompany congregational hymn and chant singing.
  • Ability to play the organ literature with appropriate stylistic interpretations and registrations.

Application Process:

  1. Fill out and send this form, including one recommendation from an organ teacher by February 1, 2024.
  2. Submit it along with a video recording for prescreening purposes. The recording must include one piece from the repertoire listed below. It is not required that the format be a professional or studio recording, but the sound quality must be as good as possible.
  3. The repertoire for this prescreening should be a performance of either a Bach prelude and fugue (or an equivalent Baroque work) and a movement from a Romantic or Contemporary work. Pianists who wish to audition for the $2000 beginner scholarships may perform a Bach two-part invention on the piano (or the equivalent).
  4. If you are selected for a live audition—which will be on Saturday, March 16, 2024 —you will need to:
    • prepare two works from the repertoire from sources such as were listed above in #3. One Baroque work and one Romantic or Contemporary work.  Pianists auditioning for the $2000 scholarships must only play a Bach two-part invention (or the equivalent) and scales and arpeggios in all keys. No candidate may repeat the same piece from the prescreening audition.
    • Be able to sight-read two short pieces.
    • Be prepared for a short interview.
  5. If you are selected as a scholarship recipient, you will have to sign a contract specifying your duties.