The Catholic Sacred Music Project promotes beautiful sacred music and worship accessible for all through events such as the Scala Conference 2023, a composers workshop with Sir James MacMillan, a conductors’s workshops and choral festivals.
With Cardinal Robert Sarah as one of its patron, the CSMP states it on it’s website, it:
was founded in 2021 to provide spiritual and musical formation for Catholic musicians in order to effect a widespread renewal of sacred music in the Church. Through intensive encounters with leading musical artists and performing masterworks from the treasury of the Church’s musical tradition, musicians are given the knowledge and skills they need to serve the Church more faithfully and to renew and develop its culture of sacred music.
It is less that two weeks until the 2023 Scala Conference, which takes place on the Princeton Theological Seminary campus on April 21st.
Aside from the great speakers and panellists, including internationally renouned artists, Jonathan Pageau and Aidan Hart, and Ann Bond of the Rifle Paper Company, the conference will include the praying of the Divine Office led by a choir. The choir director and arranger of that part of the conference will be our friend Peter Carter.
The singing of the psalms together in worship promises to be a highlight of the weekend. Some will remember how at last year’s conference, the atmosphere changed palpably after we all sang the psalms together. What began as a dry, albeit intellectually stimulating, academic conference became at once joyous community of Christians directing their sights on the common good and beauty itself. This is ‘sanctifying of the day’, which is what we experienced, is expressly stated as one of the purposes of the Liturgy of the Hours, by the Church in the General Instruction on how to pray it.
Peter Carter knows how to harness the power of music in this context and to this stated end. He is an expert and combining expert choral work with congregational involvement to create humble worship that is simultaneously noble, accessible, beautiful and moving in its simplicity. He does this by composing and arranging music himself in harmony with sacred tradition, and directing choirs and congregations to sing their prayers together. I know this because I sing in the choir he directs at The Aquinas Institute Mass in the Princeton University Chapel every Sunday. Some will remember how. Peter will also direct a choral concert of sacred music in that beautiful gothic worship space on the Friday afternoon before the conference which will be open to all.
There are no guarantees in matters spiritual of course. Ultimately it requires an assent in the heart from each of us to participate in what is offered. But for those who seek God, as Pascal once said, rejoice you have found Him!
This is all part of his mission as director of The Catholic Sacred Music Project which seeks to promote the composition and performance of beautiful sacred music so as to deepen the participation of ordinary people like me and you – ie not only expert choristers – in the right worship of God for His greater glory and the joy of mankind. I encourage you to look at his work. While many of his events are already oversubscribed this year, including the composers workshop with Sir James MacMillan, he intends to make the annual events, so watch this space!