Susan Hellauer, singer, teacher, researcher and founding member of the renowned vocal ensemble Anonymous 4, presents a new concept – Chant CampTM.
Chant Camp is a half day or full day session of chant singing, structured around a number of carefully-chosen plainchant topics. Each topic presentation begins with a brief, informative, illustrated lecture, followed by plenty of group singing, to illustrate and permanently “set” the lesson. The day’s workshop ends with a communal chant singing, combining elements of the day’s work, along with extensions and improvisations based on the day’s material.
Chant Camp is for both professional and experienced amateur singers who want to know more about the nuts and bolts of western plainchant, from medieval sources as well as from modern transcriptions of the Solesmes books. And it’s the singing that makes it stick. Plainchant has been called musical meditation, but we think about it more as yoga for the voice: active, physical and transforming. There’s absolutely nothing like unison singing, with unity of melodic intent, to grow a sense of blend and cohesion. It’s no wonder that chant is at the heart of so many different spiritual traditions. Without a doubt, the remarkable blend that Anonymous 4 achieves, despite the very different vocal tone colors of its members, is largely owing to its concentration on plainchant.
Chant Camp topics range from broad overview to very specific subjects. Singing from square notation: the four line staff, c and f clefs. The plainchant modes. Psalm tones, and how to point and sing a psalm. Canticles. Antiphons. Responsories. The music of the Tridentine Mass. Lection tones. The Divine Office. Matins. Vespers. Compline. The “Little Hours.” The great Marian antiphons. The Kyrie and its tropes. Sequences, from Notker to now. Improvised organum. Hildegard of Bingen. Sarum chant. Ambrosian chant. The Te Deum. The medieval hymn. Solesmes chant – sources and technique. Chant in Renaissance polyphony. Learning chant “by ear.” The hexachord (ut re mi . . . ). And many more.
Chant Camp is for you if you
- love plainchant, and want to sing it;
- are curious about the history, forms and uses of chant;
- want to understand plainchant better in order to lead or form a chant choir;
- sing early polyphony regularly and need to understand its context better;
- want to explore the ensemble-building power of unison singing.
Each single-instructor Camp will have a minimum of 5 and a maximum of 20 participants. Larger Camps, with multiple instructors, and up to 60 participants, can be arranged. Choral singing experience of some kind is strongly suggested. The ability to read music is very helpful, but not entirely necessary, for those with a good ear and who learn music quickly. Medieval musicians (like modern-day traditional musicians) very often learned music “by ear” themselves, and Chant Camp will always make a point of teaching and learning some pieces by rote.
All Chant Camps are designed, planned and taught by Susan Hellauer, who did, in fact, first learn to read music from the Liber Usualis in her Catholic schoolgirl days. As a founding and current member, she has designed and researched all of Anonymous 4’s programs and recordings of medieval chant and polyphony. Susan also holds advanced degrees in music history and musicology from Columbia University and Queens College of the City University of New York, where she is currently an adjunct associate professor, teaching courses in music history and directing the early music vocal and instrumental ensemble.
For larger-scale workshops, Susan will be joined by guest instructors in plainchant specialties and non-Western chant traditions, including other members of Anonymous 4.
Each Chant Camp participant will take home a binder with printed handouts, with room for note-taking, and a detailed outline of each topic. Your Chant Camp binder can be re-used and added to for future Chant Camp sessions.
In addition, the ChantVillage.com website is available for review, questions, discussion, a chant “jukebox,” links to more chant websites, glossary, bibliography, sound clips, questions and answers, articles, books, recordings and concert listings.
If you have questions about Chant Camp please fill out the form, below.