By Ali Biddiscombe
Music as liturgy is an integral part of worship and an expression of faith in Christian worship, with its foundations in the Jewish practices from which Christianity arose.
Despite its isolation, Perth holds its own internationally in this field, with a growing number of choirs in our parishes and schools.
With this in mind, the University of Western Australia‘s Conservatorium of Music is now offering honors students a new unit in Liturgical Music which will help prepare them for careers in both church and cathedral music as well as providing further research opportunities.
Headed by Dr Nicholas Bannan, Senior Lecturer in Music Education, the unit is available in first semester 2018 as a component of the Honours program.
“The course is the first of its kind in Australia, and we hope that it attracts Honors level students from interstate, and from South East Asia,” Dr Bannan said.
Dr Bannan said the intention is to also provide an academic pathway that will permit candidates to go on to higher degrees, whether singers, choral directors, organists, musicologists or composers.
“One of the significant features of church music is that it remains a medium that involves people actively, rather than treating them as consumers.
“This is especially the case, for instance, where churches ensure that children gain the opportunity to sing and take part in services,” he said.
“We see the unit as a stepping-stone to involvement in professional church music, whether for composers or performers – practitioners who may go on to work in churches, cathedrals or faith schools.”
The project also builds on the work of The Winthrop Singers, UWA’s elite auditioned chamber choir led by Dr Bannan, and the close collaborations the ensemble has forged with St Mary’s Cathedral in preparing services and concerts.
It has attracted high profile guest lecturers who will present materials across a range of themes in specialist areas in weekly presentations, including
- Winthrop Professor Benjamin Smith, who will present on Music, human evolution, and Spirituality, an archaeologist’s perspective on music, art and belief.
- Rev Gareth Hughes, Precentor of St George’s Cathedral, will present Music in the Bible and other scriptures, holy languages, their role in worship and the music that animates them. He will also present content on the Psalms and the traditions arising from them and Hymns, congregational participation, and the vernacular.
- Rev Dr John Shepherd will present the development and structure of the Mass and Eucharist, the Canticles, their literary origins, and the musical traditions they represent.
- Stewart Smith will present working with the organ and its role in liturgy.
- Hugh Lydon, Director of the choral program at John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School, will present Worship as musical pedagogy, liturgical music and education.
- Dr Bannan will present the history of music in Christmas Carols and Planning for the future and Liturgy in the 22nd Century.
For more information, contact Dr Nicholas Bannan via email at firstname.lastname@example.org