“I am convinced that music really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth.” (Pope Benedict XVI)

Music is a vital part of our liturgical tradition. Encouraging others to make music and providing beautiful meditation hymns is an essential part of our weekly prayer. At Immaculate Heart of Mary Church we believe that all instruments and all people, regardless of musical background, may blend together to glorify God in song.
(718) 871-1310, ext. 14
Steven Vaughan, the Director of Music Ministry, is one of the very few musicians who have been hired to perform as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. He has sung with the National Chorale for 19 years, and recently made his debut as a pianist accompanying the Professional Performing Arts High School Choir. He began playing Mass in Rockford, Illinois when he was only 14 years old. After receiving a bachelor's degree of music from Loyola University New Orleans, (the only Jesuit College of Music in the United States) he earned a master's degree from Tulane University. In addition to Lincoln Center, he's performed in numerous concert halls and churches, including Carnegie Hall; Cathedrale de Notre Dame de Paris and St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. He was a soloist this past year for the Brooklyn Diaconate Choir’s performance of Handel’s Messiah, and the Brooklyn Philharmonia’s performance of Bach’s Magnificat. He currently serves on Brooklyn's Diocesan Music Commission, and the Piano Steering Committee of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. His most recent recording, Enchanted Saint-Saëns, may be purchased at CDBaby.com or heard on Spotify.

Music from Good Shepherd

posted by Steven Vaughan   [ updated ]

Since 1996, Good Shepherd Catholic Church has opened its doors to hundreds of New York's most talented musicians, giving them the opportunity to perform before live and appreciative audiences. "Music from Good Shepherd" has now entered its 20th season of free Sunday evening recitals!

The series began on October 2
nd and continues today with the voice and guitar ensemble Duo Cantabile. Next week, 8 Strings & a Whistle features the unique combination of flute, viola and cello.

November brings a roster of diverse styles, including guitarist Daniel Lippel; the Tanguera Tango Ensemble; and 9 Horses, a chamber jazz supergroup. (Musically, a supergroup consists of members who are already successful as solo artists, such as The Three Tenors.) The month concludes with Jonathan Cohler on clarinet and Rasa Vitkauskaite at the piano.

December opens with soprano Emilia Cedriana Donato. The Chancel Choir and the Orchestra of Good Shepherd Church then culminate the series on December 11
th with their annual presentation of G. F. Handel’s oratorio Messiah.

All the recitals begin at 6:00
PM. You’re invited to become a part of this wonderful tradition of music-making in the community of Marine Park. While admission is free and open to the public, voluntary donations for the performers are encouraged. “This series has become a cultural treasure for the southern end of Brooklyn,” said Michael Fontana, the music director. “It’s an opportunity for people to hear some outstanding solo musicians and ensembles in a beautiful setting.”

A Gershwin Celebration

posted Oct 16, 2016, 12:28 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 16, 2016, 12:29 PM ]

Did you know I’m one of the very few musicians who have been hired to perform as both a vocalist and an instrumentalist at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts? I feel truly blessed...

This Friday, October 21
st, I’ll be singing with the National Chorale in Lincoln Center’s David Geffen Hall as we present A Gershwin Celebration. The program will include a medley of Gershwin’s most memorable songs, including “Embraceable You” and “I Got Rhythm”; an arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue for chorus; and Porgy and Bess, A Concert of Songs. Gershwin composed this folk opera in 1934 for an all-black cast; a daring artistic choice at the time. Some of the opera’s songs, such as “Summertime”, have become his most popular, and have been frequently recorded.

I’ll also play the piano on the same program, accompanying the Professional Performing Arts School Choir as they sing several Gershwin songs such as “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” and “Strike Up the Band”.

For more information, or to order tickets, call (212) 333-5333 or visit NationalChorale.org.

Thanking God (and others!)

posted Oct 12, 2016, 6:29 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 12, 2016, 6:36 AM ]

The liturgical music journal
GIA Quarterly writes: “It would be a safe judgment to make that none of this readership has suffered from leprosy and heard the welcoming words of the doctor or Jesus saying that you have been healed. In today’s gospel, ten lepers were healed. One said thank you—the outsider, a Samaritan.

Thankfulness can only happen when two are present, can only happen in relationship. Giving thanks binds two together in an experience of self-giving. Healer and healed become one. (Living Liturgy, 2016, 228)

So, when it’s necessary to make thanksgiving we could pick up the [Breaking Breads] and sing all the verses of ‘Now Thank We All Our God’ while we envision the Samaritan-leper beside us…”

And why not thank someone you know with a gift of music? Treat someone to a free concert! Let somebody else choose the music at home or in the car, and thank them for introducing you to it. When’s the last time you sang to your child? (Who cares if you can’t carry a tune, it’s the enthusiasm that counts!) There are plenty of songs that say it for you; Led Zeppelin, Alanis Morrisette, and Dido all have hits simply titled “Thank You.” Bon Jovi sings “Thank You for Loving Me” and Mariah Carey offers “Thank God I Found You.” Bob Hope will always be remembered for “Thanks for the Memories.” So thank someone you’ve been meaning to! And I don’t need to tell you how many ways you can give thanks to God with song…

Rosh Hashanah

posted Oct 11, 2016, 5:12 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 11, 2016, 5:13 AM ]

In Today’s Liturgy, editor Dr. Elaine Rendler-McQueeney writes: “Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year, begins tonight at sunset. Jesus celebrated Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), which begins at sunset on October 11. He prayed the psalms, went to synagogue, and respected the Law. Our liturgies have their roots in Jewish liturgical tradition.

Amy-Jill Levine, professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, in her article, “Misuing Jesus” (The Christian Century), contends that ‘too many want to deny Jesus’ Jewishness, since he seems to oppose Jewish law (speaks to women, cares for the poor, teaches non-violence). However, he is from first-century Nazareth, not some mythical kingdom. He sees the world through the prophets and Jewish teachers. The parables and healings also come from a first-century world-view.’ These are important aspects of Christ’s Incarnation.

The 1965 Vatican II document on the Church and non-Christian religions, Nostra Aetate, reminds us: ‘The Church, therefore, cannot forget that she received the revelation of the Old Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles (
cf. Romans 11:17-24). Indeed, the Church believes that by His cross Christ, Our Peace, reconciled Jews and Gentiles, making both one in Himself (cf. Ephesians, 2:14-16)’(4).”

Shanah tova!

cuori BELLissimi! New day! New time!

posted Oct 5, 2016, 7:14 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 5, 2016, 7:14 AM ]

Starting October 9, handbell ringers of all playing levels are invited to get together for a 45-minute rehearsal on Sunday mornings at 10:00
AM down in the Good Shepherd! Anyone between the ages of 8 and 108 is encouraged to join. At this summer’s Vacation Bible School we had a multi-generational experience, with elementary school-aged children, teenagers, adults and senior citizens all performing side by side! Wouldn’t that be great to do with hand chimes?

Becoming a “ringer” develops team work, self-esteem, and provides general music training. However, musical ability is NOT the most important characteristic; a willingness to learn and a commitment to attend regularly is.

But you won’t need to attend every Sunday. After the first Sunday, October 9 meeting, we’re going to divide into two teams; the Blue and the Gold. The Blue team will meet on the 1
st and 3rd Sundays of each month, learning to read simple music; count basic rhythm patterns, and play easier handbell parts. Then eventually, they can “graduate” to the Gold team, which meets on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month; rehearsing songs, hymns and carols. And if the month has a 5th Sunday in it, we’ll all gather together to ring together!

So if you know anyone who might be interested, send them down to the Good Shepherd Sunday morning, October 9, at 10:00 
AM. Better yet, stay and plan on ringing with them! Bring a friend, or a grandchild! This is something the whole family can do together!

Guitar Jam

posted Oct 1, 2016, 2:42 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Oct 1, 2016, 2:45 PM ]

Starting next week, guitarists of all playing levels are invited to get together for an hour once a month to swap techniques, fingerings, styles, and to pick up some tips by playing with someone else as opposed to playing alone, etc. Anyone with a guitar is invited, whether they play well or just a beginner who wants to try and come learn something. It doesn't matter whether you want to play a liturgy or not.

This isn’t a rehearsal for Mass, it’s simply an opportunity to play with other guitarists. It doesn’t matter if you’re discovering something new, or sharing your knowledge with someone, everyone can learn a little, for as singer/songwriter Phil Collins says, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.” And whether you’re a beginner or just keeping your skills in shape, playing with a group is fun! And it’s free instruction!

Popular songs and warm-up and improvisation exercises are just as likely to be explored as well as songs for Mass. Maybe you want some tips on how to practice more effectively, or how to play awesome licks? Perhaps you have some questions about scales or modes, or arpeggios? Klaus Crow says on GuitarHabits.com, “The beauty of guitar master classes is that they always give you new insights and make you aware of the infinite possibilities on the guitar.” So our emphasis is simply to encourage more and better guitar playing in a self-run master class type setting, where players can help each other.

Even though I don’t play guitar, I will frequently be on hand in case you have any questions about music theory such as rhythms, chord progressions, etc.

The monthly jam will be 3:30 - 4:30
PM in the Marian Center on the last Saturday of the month. (Sometimes it may be moved up a week if the last Saturday falls on a holiday weekend, so check the calendar or this column before you come!)

God Bless America

posted Sep 25, 2016, 12:18 PM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 25, 2016, 12:18 PM ]

Irving Berlin first wrote this song in 1918 while serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton in Yaphank, NY; but decided that it did not fit in a revue called Yip Yip Yaphank, so he set it aside. But with the rise of Adolf Hitler in 1938, Irving Berlin, who was Jewish and had arrived in America from Russia at the age of five, felt it was time to revive it. Kate Smith introduced it on her radio show, and it became her signature song. Berlin penned an introduction that is now rarely heard, but which Smith always used:

"While the storm clouds gather far across the sea 
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free 
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair, 
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer." 

Did you know Berlin gave the royalties of the song to “The God Bless America Fund” for redistribution to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts in New York City?

During the 1960s, the song was used in the Civil Rights Movement as well as at labor rallies. And by the late 1960s through the early 1970s, it became a staple of nationwide sporting events, even becoming a “good luck charm” for the Philadelphia Flyers.

On the evening of the September 11 terrorist attacks fifteen years ago, during a live television broadcast featuring addresses by House and Senate leaders, members of the United States Congress broke out into a spontaneous verse of "God Bless America" on the steps of the Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

Then ten nights later, on September 21
st, Celine Dion performed the song on the TV special America: A Tribute to Heroes. A month later, Sony Music Entertainment released a benefit album called God Bless America, which featured Dion singing the song. This album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and became the first charity album to reach the top since USA for Africa's “We Are the World” in 1985. At the same time, country music artist LeAnn Rimes rereleased her 1997 cover of the song.

9/11 Memorial Concerts: Fauré Requiem

posted Sep 3, 2016, 10:19 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 3, 2016, 10:20 AM ]

Next Sunday, two churches in NYC will present a 9/11 Memorial Concert in honor of its 15
th Anniversary featuring Gabriel Fauré’s Requiem in D minor, Op. 48.

St. Matthias’ Roman Catholic Church Choir in the Ridgewood neighborhood of Queens will perform it at 4:00
PM. Then at 6:00 PM you can hear it at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church on Park Avenue with The Really Big Chorus, the world’s largest community chorus with over 10,000 active members. 90 of them from the UK, US, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain will sing, returning five years after their concert when they were invited to perform at Lincoln Center for the 10th Anniversary of 9/11.

In 1888, Fauré composed his first version of the Mass for the Dead, which he called un petit Requiem for the funeral of an architect. Over the next two years, he expanded its length to 35-minutes, reworked it for full orchestra, and premiered his Requiem in D minor, Op. 48 at the Paris World’s Fair in 1900. In 1924 it was performed for his own funeral.

He told an interviewer, "Everything I managed to entertain by way of religious illusion I put into my Requiem, which moreover is dominated from beginning to end by a very human feeling of faith in eternal rest. It has been said that my Requiem does not express the fear of death and someone has called it a lullaby of death. But it is thus that I see death: as a happy deliverance, an aspiration towards happiness above, rather than as a painful experience.

You Gather In the Outcast

posted Aug 30, 2016, 10:41 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 30, 2016, 10:41 AM ]

The text of “You Gather In the Outcast” was written by Genevieve Glen, OSB, a Benedictine nun at the Abbey of St. Walburga in Virginia Dale, CO, and a highly regarded poet and author of hymn texts. She writes "This hymn depicts the Jesus of the gospels as he continues to be for us now: gathering, healing, encouraging, finding the lost, caring for all needs without stinting. This is the self-giving Christ embodied in the Eucharist.”

It was commissioned by The Episcopal Parish of St. John the Baptist in Portland, OR in honor of their outreach program.

Its composer, Scot Crandal states “Reading Sr. Genevieve Glen's text literally moved me to tears. I strongly felt that congregations would revel in its meaning and imagery if an accessible melody could be written that enhanced the text's power. Given the text's 76 76 D meter, the melody would need to be lengthy yet I wanted it to be memorable. After considerable revisions based on feedback from various colleagues, the melody arrived at its current form, adding harmony and an accompaniment that work to enhance the text's aesthetic.”

The “meter” Scot refers to is the rhythmic and syllabic structure of a piece of poetry, which is essentially what a hymn is. A hymn with the meter 76 76 has seven syllables in the first line, six in the second, seven in the third, and six in the fourth. The letter D at the end means "double," so then this pattern repeats itself for the fifth through eighth lines. Any hymn that’s in our Breaking Bread will have its meter listed just under it, at the beginning of the line crediting the author of the text. Though songs don’t do this, only hymns...

Accordions Around the World

posted Aug 28, 2016, 7:54 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Aug 28, 2016, 7:54 AM ]

Accordions Around the World is a weekly series that regularly features six accordionists as well as bandoneon/bayan/concertina/harmonium-players of different musical genres performing in various locations around Bryant Park each Wednesday from 6:00 – 8:00
PM. The series represents many cultures and genres, offering audiences the chance to experience the often overlooked or little-known instrument invented in 19th century Europe.

The concertina was developed in England in 1829; while at the same time Vienna was independently patenting a similar instrument called the accordion, which is German for “harmony”. It’s played by squeezing the bellows to generate airflow while pressing buttons or keys to open valves that guide that air across vibrating reeds to produce sound. As Europeans emigrated around the world, its mobility made its popularity spread rapidly.

In keeping with the festival’s name, the emphasis is on international genres. So if you go on a scavenger hunt through the park, you can hear traditional Irish music and American rock and blues; or dance to Yiddish klezmer or Louisiana zydeco. Listen to the musette, a folk dance from southern France originally played on a small bagpipe. Enjoy the vallenato and cumbia from Columbia, where the world's largest accordion competition is held. And the bandoneon is a type of concertina in Argentina essential to both traditional tango and pop music.

The New York Times describes it as "offering accordionists an opportunity to change the stodgy image of their instrument". You can take the F train directly to Bryant Park, and if you see me there, give me a squeeze!

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