CHANT ON THE CHATTAHOOCHEE
Singing for a Requiem Mass in the oldest Catholic cemetery in Georgia
Greetings, Floriani faithful!
October was chock-full of travel, across the country and beyond the sea (scroll below to see what I mean). We just got back from our 11 day trip to Atlanta, Georgia, and even though it is great to be home, we are already missing that famous Southern hospitality. Having already laid the groundwork last year, the soil in the land of peaches was ripe for tilling. We were able to build upon the relationships we made a year ago, and thanks to our many friends in that beautiful state, we were able to teach, sing for liturgies, and share our mission with a wide audience.
For our many new subscribers, welcome to the renaissance!
On their day off, student's of St. John Bosco Academy came to school to delve deeper into the world of sacred music
Schools and Scholas
Last year, we spent a day-long intensive with the students of St. John Bosco Academy, capping the day by singing for a Vigil Mass.
This year, we spread this over two days, taking a day to introduce the high schoolers (over 60 students!) to an entire Mass’s worth of repertoire, which included teaching them the ins and outs of Gregorian chant.
A few of the middle schoolers joined for part of the day for an introduction to chant, and to learn a couple of the Mass IX Ordinaries. All of this was in preparation for the following day, the Solemnity of All Saints. Everyone arrived early for a final rehearsal, but we had time to give the students a mini-concert and open it up for questions (perhaps one of our favorite parts of the job). After that, we all sang for the Mass to the glory of God and in honor of the saints! Thanks again to the students of SJBA, and a special thanks to Leigh Ann Wearne for helping to make all this happen.
Not only did we sing for All Saints, but we followed it up with a Requiem Mass alongside the schola of the Catholic Church of St. Monica’s.
Another two-day intensive, we met with the schola a few days prior to the Mass, learning the gorgeous Requiem Mass chants, and a glorious polyphonic Mass setting for five voices by Cristobal Morales.
One of the most enjoyable nights of the trip consisted in a dinner party with the choral group Concordi Laetitia, an Atlanta-based sacred music ensemble founded at Georgia Tech working, as we are, to restore the Catholic musical tradition. What a joy to connect with talented musicians who share our vision of a sacred music renaissance! It was not long into the evening before we gathered around the piano to sing some choral favorites. We look forward to a future collaboration, Concordi!
Enjoy some clips and pictures of these choral encounters below 👇
A Requiem to Remember
It’s rare that we get to sing for an outdoor Mass, let alone a Mass held upon a stone altar in a cemetery in the woods. But thanks to our friends at Heritage Retreat Center in Sharon, GA, we were able to do just that, joining our voices in prayer to the celebration of a Requiem Mass held in Locus Grove Cemetery, the oldest Catholic cemetery in Georgia. This Mass is held annually to honor and pray for the faithful departed buried at Locust Grove, including several souls who would have been alive during the American Revolution, as well as some relatives of author Flannery O’Connor. The graves are spread across the forest floor almost haphazardly, and many of them are unmarked. The gravesite is so old, that several graves nurture giant oak trees springing from the mossy resting places. A group of around 100 people gathered for the ceremony, and Floriani provided the music, chanting the entirety of the Requiem chant repertoire, which includes the famous Dies Irae, i.e. Day of Wrath. The site is on the property of the Heritage Retreat Center, which will hold its first retreat in May 2023, lead by Dr. Scott Hahn. For more information on this amazing project, visit https://www.heritagega.org
We give a special thanks to the Suzanne and Matthew Holtcamp, whose relentless generosity and devotion to our cause made this tour a reality. God bless you both! ❤️
INCOMING ADDITIONS TO FLORIANI
We move from the tomb to the womb, with some wonderful news for the Floriani family: Both Sarah Crawley and Rebecca Quackenbush (wives of Graham and Thomas, respectively) are pregnant, the former with the first contribution to the Crawley clan, and the latter with what will be the fifth of the Quackenbush brood. Praise be to God! We ask you to please keep us in your prayers, and don’t worry, we will absolutely be keeping you updated 😊
And now, what you have all been waiting for: details of Giorgio’s October trip to the Himalayas. Oh, and his story may or may not end with two tons of writhing metal combusting upon a glacier-glazed mountainside.
Adventures in the Himalayas
I had always been a backpacker/hiker/trucker/traveler ever since I was a boy. Being a Boy Scout, I had the opportunity to be an avid backpacker and camper. This coupled with my love of reading introduced me to the Himalayan mountains in Nepal and Tibet. And so over a year ago I had the unconventional idea of planning a trip with my good friend Henry to a place literally half-way across the world.
I told my colleagues here in Floriani that they would be a three man band for October, for the Himalayas were harkening my name. While preparing for the trip, my friend Henry had gotten in contact with a religious order in Kathmandu: Missionaries of Jesus the Divine Master. They very graciously offered to host us before we headed up into the mountains. Interestingly, one of their requests was that we bring Catholic items: books, Bibles, rosaries, crosses, vestments, etc. The Catholic Church in Nepal is quite small, impoverished, and is very difficult to transport these items into the country.
Knowing that many Catholics have a tendency to hoard these items (such as myself), we were able to garner two full suitcases of items, including ten chalices donated by local parishes! Our adventure now became something of a missionary endeavor.
After getting the goods to our fantastic hosts, we began a 20 hour laborious jeep ride through the Nepalese foothills. FYI, our five man jeep had twelve passengers piled in not to mention the bumpy off-roading. After 5 days of flights and jeeps, we had finally gotten near the Himalayas. And so began our trek.
Through Sherpa villages, we hiked two days until we finally reached 12K feet in the fascinating mountcin town of Namche Bazar. This hiking hub happened to host the world’s highest live music band and Irish bar, both of which were agreeable! Namche Bazar is the beginning of our Himalayan trek AKA the Three Trek Pass Circuit which is 101 miles in length and 35K feet of elevation climbing.
Typically, this hike is done in 16-21 days. Our little crew of three managed to finish it in 7 ½ (yes, not a good idea if you like walking normally by the end of the day). And, I must confess, I was the weak link in our group. The altitude, while not crippling me, reduced my ability to breathe by 70%. That and the constant elevation change was affecting my knee.
The 1st of the three passes, Kongma La, was the most excruciating day of my life. The elevation was roughly 19K feet which means very thin air. While not having common symptoms of altitude sickness, my thinking and judgment were impaired to the extent that I felt inebriated. Not the best idea to climb a pass with a sheer cliff drop while feeling inebriated! However, I survived, as you might’ve assumed.
It gets worse. If you’ve never heard of a moraine, it’s a specific type of terrain formed by melting glaciers. They are very common in the Himalayas and absolutely agonizing to walk through as well as perilous. We had to walk through several, while hearing glacial cliffs, fall into the abyss, sometimes destroying trails. After a two hour hike through a Himalayan moraine, we arrived ½ alive to the town of Lobuche.
If you haven’t thought my trip is crazy enough, just wait. The next morning we awoke from our tea lodge to go see and touch the mighty Mount Everest. All of the sudden. Kaboom!!!!! We hear a strange explosion outside of our lodging. I immediately knew what had happened. It was a helicopter crash.
To be continued….
A FRIENDLY REMINDER: The impact of your support
Here's some testimonies from those Floriani has been able to reach thanks to the support we receive from our donors. Thank you for helping to make this happen!
"It has been one month since Floriani performed at St. Thomas Aquinas Church for the students at St. John Paul II Catholic High School. The sound of your voices resonating in the the church was truly beautiful. Thank you for coming to Avondale to make the world more beautiful.
Our Schola members also enjoyed the practice time that they spent with you, and I think that the sound of their voices, has changed for the better since your visit.
Thank you for all that Floriani is doing to revitalize sacred music."
"Hi. Just want to reach out and express my gratitude for your work, inspiration and maybe most of all your chant school podcast. Being a religious man myself, a vicar and dean in the Lutheran Church of Sweden, and a decent singer and lover of Gregorian chant since years, your work and pod inspire and help me improve greatly as a chant singer. There’s not much material out there that does that well, but you do. Thank you ever so much for! I’m looking forward to your continued work! Pax, and God bless you."
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We are so grateful for your support! Please keep us in your prayers!
- Giorgio, Graham, Joe, and Thomas