In her blog, Maddie Waldhoff, parishioner and choir member, gives us an inside look at the music and experiences at the Newport Royal School of Church Music this summer. 

Summer Music by Maddie Waldhoff

For the third year in a row, my sister Emma and I attended the Newport Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) course during the first week of August. The camp, which takes place at Salve Regina University, is always a lot of fun, though the amount of work required seems endless. Throughout the week (arriving on Monday afternoon and leaving Sunday around noon), choir members (from as far as Hong Kong and Paris) worked to prepare music for two evensongs, a hymn festival, and a Eucharist on Sunday.

This year (for the first time) our director was Mr. Bruce Neswick. The music selected was more challenging than in the past, but it went off without a hitch (except for one song, but that was more of a “nobody can see the director error” than anything else). As always, we performed a mass, consisting of the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei, all sung in Greek (Kyrie) and Latin (everything else). This year our mass was the Missa brevis Sti. Joannis de Deo by Haydn. We also performed a William Smith Preces and Response and many anthems. The Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (by Bryan Kelly) were probably the most challenging pieces I’ve ever sung. They were inspired by Latin American rhythms so, despite their difficulty, they were very fun to sing.

At RSCM, besides the hours of rehearsal time every day, we went to the beach twice, had a dance, a program from the vocal coach, and a talent show. We also had two liturgy classes, where we talked about the different components of Morning Prayer and the Eucharist. Perhaps the most musically educational thing we did was tracks- we chose from Handbells, Successful Singing, Descant Writing, Lay Reading, and RSCM Exam Prep. I attended Successful Singing, where we learned about proper breathing techniques, proper diction, posture, and more.

As always, RSCM was exhausting but fun. I learned a lot, and I know my sister did too. I plan to go again next year (and perhaps try the Descant Writing Track), and really recommend it for any choir members.