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Marists worldwide participate in a special video to commemorate Bicentenary

04/02/2017: Australia

Download PDF | Salve Regina MP3 | Vimeo

Brother Michael Herry, of Australia, promoted the recording of Salve Regina, sung by Marists of the five continents, as a way of celebrating the Bicentenary of the foundation of the Institute. The following is a text by Brother Michael, which tells the story of the project, and also offers the opportunity to download the recording and watch the video made with the song.

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Early in 2016, Brother Greg McDonald invited me to view a beautiful hymn on YouTube commemorating the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Carmelite Sisters. The music was stunning, and immediately captivated me, a choir of Carmelite Sisters from all around the world singing individually from their own convents, and then a clever music producer somewhere had put all the voices together digitally and made it both sound and look beautiful. Greg suggested we Marists aim at something similar as an international way of celebrating our own Bi-Centenary. 

As it happened I had been working on a couple of new settings of the Salve Regina which I was planning to upload to my website with the bi-centenary in mind, really just for visitors of Marist Music. So I already had some musical ideas growing, and because the Salve Regina is so much part of our Marist DNA, it seemed appropriate to use that text, even if some of the words reflect a medieval view of faith which many today no longer find helpful. I feel the hymn can and does still speak to us in places of the heart, far beyond the confines of thoughts and words.  So I contacted Br Michael Akers and the Province Bi-Centenary Committee who also offered their interest and support.

The particular Salve Regina I chose to work on and complete was one based on an earlier composition of mine which I had written and recorded after my Camino in Spain in 2014. The  musical form consisted of contrasting elements, the use of traditional Gregorian Chant, (a form of music I love and which particularly suits the male voice in choir) together with sections more contemporary in style, and finally at the end, a Taize chant – like mantra over the words ‘O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.’

Next we needed someone with the musical and technical skills to bring all the elements together, and finally of course, a group of willing Marists to participate in learning and recording the music. The process was not all that difficult:

1.  In my simple studio I recorded the Salve with myself singing and playing the composition. 

2. This MP3 audio file was sent out to an international group of participant-singers via email. 

3. Each participant carefully listened to and learnt his part.

4.  Then, whilst listening to the accompaniment through ear phones, each singer recorded his voice onto his smart phone, whilst listening as closely as possible to the timing and feeling of the original.

5. These sound files were then sent to our producer / arranger, Mr Michael Cristiano in his own studio in Melbourne. Some harmony parts were added live by a small group of singers to enrich the musical texture and finally, Michael polished and blended each voice into a beautiful-sounding whole, adding his own orchestral arrangement together with some of his own fine guitar playing.

It only remains to thank all those who took part in this beautiful hymn of praise and love to Mary, our good Mother. 

May this Marist bi-centenary inspire us all in our ongoing and important work of making Jesus known and loved.

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Br Michael Herry fms,  Melbourne, Australia

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