Two young friars are bringing Catholic music education to a computer near you.
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There’s a new name in the field of Catholic music education: OPchant. No, it does not stand for “over-powered” chant — however wonderful as that might have been — but rather Ordo Praedicatorum Chant, as in it is taught by Dominican friars.
Dominican Brothers Stefan Ansinger and Alexandre Frezzato have started a YouTube channel that offers lessons in traditional Catholic chant, free of charge. Their wonderful videos take amateurs and professionals alike through ancient chants and they even provide a PDF file of the score to the music, so that their viewers can follow along and learn the methods required to sing them.
To say the two young friars are dedicated is something of a understatement. Although they only began their efforts in late 2019, they have already produced 41 educational videos, and now they’ve settled on a steady pace of one video per week. The lessons bring the viewer to different monastic churches, where the friars utilize the various acoustics to perform just the right chant.
In an interview with the Catholic Herald, Brother Stefan noted that the project began as a way to help develop “Gregorian choirs in England and America” in their craft. Since then, however, they have exploded in popularity, drawing nearly 15,000 subscribers and bringing together the many monastic communities that they visit. They’re even getting some of the older members of their order interested.
“I remember one of our older brothers giving us some very useful advice when we recorded a few songs,” Brother Stefan said. “He asked us to extend some notes and breathe at times. It was really beautiful. An older brother who had been trained in singing at the time was giving us advice to improve our singing, in a completely spontaneous way.”
He went on to discuss the importance of a connection between the singer and the music. As chant is a form of prayer, it is pivotal for the performer to understand the Latin words they are singing. This, in turn, allows the performance to be more genuine and heartfelt, as well as allowing the dynamics to swell and fade at the appropriate times. To this Brother Alexandre added:
“What also touches me is the awareness of history; through this sacred song, which has remained the same, which accompanied the common prayer of the brothers, loving the Lord together, studying together,” Brother Alexandre remarked. “We have here a treasure which binds us to those who precede us and who gave their lives for Christ in our Order. It’s our turn to pass it on!”
Their lessons are completely accessible to students of all skill levels and they are provided in English as well. Visit the OPChant channel now to start your educational journey into the ancient world of monastic chant, or if you’re already proficient in the art form, polish your skills with authentic chant from authentic monks.