About the Editor
Patrick Williams maintains the cantatorium.com website and serves as organist and choirmaster at Mater Misericordiae Parish and St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Phoenix, Arizona, churches of the diocese of Phoenix served by the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) with exclusive use of the traditional, pre-Vatican II Roman rite in Latin. He previously held positions at the Cathedral of St. Paul, EWTN, St. Elias Maronite Church, and Avondale United Methodist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, and the Cathedral of St. John Berchmans in Shreveport, Louisiana. He was born in Savannah, Georgia, and reared there until age 9, when his family moved to Birmingham. He began choral singing at an early age, piano at 6, and organ at 12, and he converted to Catholicism during his senior year of high school. Although he started college as an organ major at Indiana University, Bloomington, he transferred to a department without an organ program and holds a B.A. in music with a concentration in voice from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At UAB, he was a member of the concert choir for four years under the direction of international prize-winning choral conductor Philip Copeland. His teachers have included Suzanne Woodrum, Jim Cook, Warren Hutton, Larry Smith, John Ray, Rachel Mathes, and Claudia Kennedy. In addition to interests in chant, polyphony, choral, vocal, and keyboard works, and other classical music, he enjoys “fasola" singing in the traditional American style and co-organizes a local Sacred Harp singing group. His article about the chant recordings of Fr. Roman Bannwart was published in the fall 2018 issue of Sacred Music. He has a number of choral editions available for free download at the Choral Public Domain Library.
My first exposure to Gregorian chant live on a regular basis was at the age of 17, and I took to it like a duck to water. It was much different from the church music I grew up with, which was a mixture of traditional English hymnody (Watts, Wesley, etc.), anthems, and seasonal cantatas or major works, with some gospel and a bit of more contemporary Christian music, along with organ and other instrumental music. Like many of my traditional Latin Mass colleagues, I now sing and direct a style of music that I neither grew up with nor sang liturgically on a regular basis under another director, at least not for long. Of course we sang some Renaissance polyphony in my church and school choirs, but it was far from our core repertory. I hope that the young people of my parish are getting some of the experience I wish I had gotten myself. Apart from about nine months as associate organist under the late Calvert Shenk and six weeks as a postulant with the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius in Chicago, I have been largely self-taught as far as chant is concerned.
I think it's safe to say that neither I nor my professors would have predicted that I would immerse myself in historical musicology to this extent. My position at a church where Gregorian chant is the backbone of the musical repertory and my work with professional singers from outside the parish have given me an ideal vantage point to perceive many of the flaws in the Solesmes method and theory as well as mainstream Gregorian semiology and accentualist/rhetorical approaches to chant.
Contact: choir at phoenixlatinmass dot org (work) or organistAL at aol dot com (personal)
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