Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Detroit Free Press: Assumption Grotto pastor creates music for mass, lifts spirits at vulnerable parish

Fr. Perrone conducts a Mass his wrote, at the dress rehearsal before Christmas
Photo: Jarrad Henderson/Detroit Free Press

Detroit Free Press reporter, Niraj Warikoo, and photographer, Jarrad Henderson, paid a visit to Assumption Grotto on the Wednesday before Christmas as the dress rehearsal was going on for the orchestral Mass, composed and conducted by Fr. Eudard Perrone, the pastor.

I was quoted a few times in the article.  Tomorrow, I will elaborate on what I was  quoted on to give it greater context than could be made in this excellent feature story about Fr. Perrone's Mass.   I've added one note, bracketed in gold (since my link color is red - LOL).

Assumption Grotto: Pastor creates music for mass, lifts spirits at vulnerable parish

The Rev. Eduard Perrone, while on vacation last summer at his mother's home in Warren, awoke from an afternoon nap with a melody in his head. He scribbled it down before he forgot it.

Over the next few days, more musical ideas popped into his mind, often after he woke up.

That was the start of what has turned into a full orchestral piece for Catholic mass, a 30-minute composition being performed for the first time this holiday season. It's rare for a full-time priest to compose his own music for mass, but for Perrone, 63, it fit well with his role as pastor at Assumption Grotto, a historic Detroit church with a rich musical history.

Called "Fountain of Beauty," Perrone's composition is dedicated to the mother of Jesus.

"It's my belief that the Virgin Mary is the most beautiful of all God's creatures," Perrone said.

Divided into six parts, the piece is written for a 65-member choir and 38 musicians, some of whom are professionals with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Michigan Opera Theatre. On Dec. 21, it was performed for the first time with the full orchestra during a rehearsal under the neo-Gothic arches of the majestic church.

"That was stunning, Father," Diane Korzeniewski, a choir member and member of the church, said after the rehearsal.

Unifying the parish

Born to parents who were both musicians, Perrone learned music at Cass Tech High School and at a now-closed school in the Detroit archdiocese that taught church music [Fr. Perrone was referring to the famed Palestrina School]. He learned piano, organ and Gregorian chanting.

But his heart was set on a higher calling.

Read the rest at the Detroit Free Press... 

You can read a letter Fr. Perrone provided to the choir with details about his newly composed Mass. 

The article goes on to quote me a few more times as I spoke with Niraj after the interview with Fr. Perrone.  Tomorrow, I will elaborate. 


If you are wanting to hear this beautiful music in the context of holy Mass, there are two more opportunities:  January 1, 2012 at 9:30 AM and at the noon Mass on January 8th.  Prelude music begins 15 minutes before Mass.  Parking and seating will not be a problem if you get there earlier.

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Andy said...

Hello Diane,

Do you know if anybody videotaped/recorded the rehearsal or the Midnight Mass? If they didn't, that might be something to look into for when the Mass is performed again on New Years or January 8th.

God bless,


Alvin said...

I thought that the parish was in debt. Where did the money come from to pay for the musicians?

The Popes of the past condemned these kind of productions. As a traditional Catholic I'm appalled. As well intentioned as this may be it belongs in the concert hall or La Scala not in the Mass.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Alvin asked: I thought that the parish was in debt. Where did the money come from to pay for the musicians?

Not a penny from the parish goes to fund these orchestral Masses. They are funded by private and personal donations. In addition to benefactors who support the music program at Grotto, envelopes are put out which allow people to contribute specifically to the music program.

Rather than costing the parish money, these orchestral Masses actually bring visitors. These visitors will often donate into the Sunday collection, which helps the parish.

I'll respond to your second concern in the next comment.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Alvin said: The Popes of the past condemned these kind of productions. As a traditional Catholic I'm appalled. As well intentioned as this may be it belongs in the concert hall or La Scala not in the Mass

I am short on time and was going to address this deeper. Given my lack of time, I just want to point out that Pope Benedict XVI seems not to have a problem with an orchestral Mass for a solemn occasion. We do these orchestral Masses only a handful of times per year - on solemn occasions.

This is an area where I have seen traditional minded Catholics often disagree (with regards to such orchestral Masses).

I'll tell you this much: I'll take an orchestral Mass any day over a Mass dominated by music with piano and guitar. You see, that makes up 99% of the music in many parishes, in most dioceses these days in the US.

I myself was lifted to the heights the first time I went to an orchestral Mass on Pentecost of 2005 at Assumption Grotto. In fact, the music played an important role in an interior spiritual transformation that was just beginning to bud. I found the words of Pope John Paul II, in a 1998 ad limina address to bishops of the western US quite fitting (emphasis mine in bold):

Active participation certainly means that, in gesture, word, song and service, all the members of the community take part in an act of worship, which is anything but inert or passive. Yet active participation does not preclude the active passivity of silence, stillness and listening: indeed, it demands it. Worshippers are not passive, for instance, when listening to the readings or the homily, or following the prayers of the celebrant, and the chants and music of the liturgy. These are experiences of silence and stillness, but they are in their own way profoundly active. In a culture which neither favors nor fosters meditative quiet, the art of interior listening is learned only with difficulty. Here we see how the liturgy, though it must always be properly inculturated, must also be counter-cultural.

I recommend the entire document to readers as it was an attempt by the late Pontiff to correct liturgical abuses. He has much more to say about "active participation"...

Source: Ad Limina Address on the Liturgy by Pope John Paul II | 1998

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

I recommend right-clicking those links and using "open in new window" if you get a small window that will not enlarge.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Here is one more link about Orchestral Masses. It is Jeffrey Tucker discussing it in a post at NLM. He writes:

In some small sectors of the sacred-music community, there is a persistent debate about Mozart and Haydn Masses, whether they are too elaborate for a sacred setting or whether it is a myth that Pius X attempted to diminish their status.

For my part, I find this whole debate, a real blast from the past, to be completely irrelevant in times when the average parish offers a musical fare that is not recognizably Catholic or liturgical by any stretch -- something which is changing but not nearly fast enough. Mozart is a wonderful respite from this, a welcome elevation in every sense. Given the realities of the present day, let's save the "orchestral Mass" debate for a 100 years from now.

In any case, it does no good to argue this stuff abstractly. The best approach is to attend a Mass at, say, St. Agnes in the Twin Cities, and experience it yourself. If you have doubts, I suspect that the experience alone will wash them away.

Diane M. Korzeniewski, OCDS said...

Oops - link to Jeffrey Tucker's post at NLM here (scroll past the headlines)

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