Mary Berry

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Dr Mary Berry, aged 91 on the 1st May 2008, Feast of the Ascension of the Lord

Just a few words about Dr Mary Berry on behalf of the recording team at Herald.

When I first met Dr Mary Berry 1989 to discuss the possibility of making a recording of an Anglo Saxon Christmas little did I realise what the future years would hold for us both.

Our very first recording was made in 1990 in the magnificent setting of Salisbury Cathedral called Like the Sun in his Orb, to this day I shall always remember the Exultet sung by John-Rolands Pritchard in the darkened Cathedral late a night it was almost as though one was transported back in time.

Mary then fired with immense enthusiasm embarked on a whole series of projects and ideas, which really encapsulated her years of research into Gregorian Chant. The Herald team were whisked from one venue to another over the coming years, from Salisbury to Winchester, to Arundel Castle Chapel with the Kings College Choristers to Pontigny for Pentecost and to the magnificent Notre- Dame Cathedral for the most stunning recording of the Dupre Vespers. It did not stop there Rome had to be conquered and that did not happen in a day.

In 1997 we made our first recording in San Gregorio, Rome to commemorate the 1400 years of Saint Augustine coming to England. It took two more years of discussion and planning before we were finally allowed the privilege of making a recording in the Vatican and this was done in June 1999 via the kind auspices of Her excellency Maureen Maglashan the then Ambassador to the Holy See and Fr Allen Duston the International Director of the Office of the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, a truly remarkable Priest and very kindly man. We made two recordings for Fr Allen one entitled “Angels from the Vatican” which was designed to compliment a breath taking exhibition due to tour the USA in 1997 and was recorded in Charterhouse Chapel in the UK and another in June 1999 “Tu Es Petrus” You are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church, which was to be recorded in the Vatican.

Dr. Mary Berry with the choir, photographed during rehersals in June 1999

Dr. Mary Berry with the choir, photographed during rehersals in June 1999

This too was designed to compliment an exhibition on the history of the Popes that Fr Allen was preparing to tour the USA. During the time we spent in Rome Mary and the Schola Sang for the Pope and he came and greeted her as can be seen in the photograph above. It was the most wonderful occasion for all concerned as you can imagine. Rome and the Vatican had indeed opened its doors to Mary and the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge. By this stage Mary had achieved 11 recordings with Herald and I knew she still very much wanted to record disc of Machault’s “Missa Nostre Dame”, this disc we finally recorded in April 2004 in the magnificent setting of Reims Cathedral and released in 2006.

In 2000 Dr Berry was awarded the Papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, given in honour of services to the Church and in 2002 she received a CBE for services to plainsong and Gregorian chant.

I would like to express my real personal gratitude to Dr Mary Berry both as a personal friend and and as a professional colleague, for all the time she has spent with me and the Herald team over the years making this wonderful, unique and time-less series of Gregorian Chant CDs a true treasure trove and wonderful memorial of her work and dedication to ensuring the beauty of the Chant will stay with us all for ever.

Dr Mary Berry will be very sadly missed by all the staff at Herald, May she rest in peace.

Brian Johnson
5th May 2008

The Times Newspaper – Obituaries “Mary Berry Musicologist, nun and Cambridge don who dedicated her life to reviving Gregorian chant
The Schola Gregoriana Website

The Schola was founded in 1975 by Dr Mary Berry, a Cambridge musician and musicologist, in order to ensure that the chant should continue to be taught, and that all those who wished to sing and study this profoundly spiritual and ancient music should be able to do so. It became a registered charity in 1984.The Schola aims to promote the teaching and singing of Gregorian chant and, whenever possible, to foster its study and research. The sung liturgical music of Western Christianity, known since the time of the Carolingian Empire as ‘Gregorian Chant’, represents an unbroken tradition of two thousand years of authentic Christian song.

Gramophone – Top Stories “Mary Berry, Gregorian chant expert, has died”
The Times Newspaper – Obituaries “Mary Berry Musicologist, nun and Cambridge don who dedicated her life to reviving Gregorian chant

The Schola Gregoriana Website
The Schola was founded in 1975 by Dr Mary Berry, a Cambridge musician and musicologist, in order to ensure that the chant should continue to be taught, and that all those who wished to sing and study this profoundly spiritual and ancient music should be able to do so. It became a registered charity in 1984.The Schola aims to promote the teaching and singing of Gregorian chant and, whenever possible, to foster its study and research. The sung liturgical music of Western Christianity, known since the time of the Carolingian Empire as ‘Gregorian Chant’, represents an unbroken tradition of two thousand years of authentic Christian song.

Mary Berry -
Mary Berry, founder and Director of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, studied in Cambridge under Thurston Dart and in Paris under Nadia Boulanger. A dynamic conductor and scholar of distinction, her main field of interest has been the evolution of styles of performance of Gregorian Chant over the centuries and up to the present day.

In 1975, Dr. Berry founded the Schola for the study, performance and promotion of Gregorian Chant, welcoming all-comers to her lively weekend sessions and summer schools.

She conducts and gives masterclasses in Europe, the USA and Canada, and Australia, and, more recently Estonia and Lithuania.

The Schola Gregoriana Choir with Mary Berry
photographed in the Vatican Gardens, Rome.

Tv Es Petrvs
The recording was made in the Hall of Constantine in the Vatican last year. The Cantors of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge, directed by Dr Mary Berry are one of the first British choirs to have had the privilege of making a recording in the Vatican.

The Holy Father has himself received a copy of the CD and has acknowledged it with much interest.

Dr. Mary Berry and Olive Simpson (soprano) escorted by Swiss Guards in the Vatican.

Dr. Mary Berry and Olive Simpson (soprano) escorted by Swiss Guards in the Vatican.

This new release offers the Church a special Millennium recording. It traces the life of the Apostle Peter in liturgical music from the 5th – 16th centuries. English 13th-century polytextual motets alternate with chants of great beauty. Also included is one early pilgrim song and hymns and motets by composers who have worked in Rome, in St Peter’s and in the Sistine chapel: Dufay, Costanzo Festa, Carpentras and Palestrina. The Gramophone (November 2000) described the recording as;

“A colourful celebration of the life of St Peter, recorded in the Vatican by an expert group from Cambridge.”

Dr Mary Berry, a Cambridge musician and musicologist, founded the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge in 1975. The aims of the Schola are to promote the teaching and singing of Gregorian Chant and, wherever possible, to further study and research.

The Cantors of the Schola are a group of young professional singers with a particular interest in Gregorian Chant and other early music. They specialize in the reconstruction and performance of early as well as present-day liturgy. Tu es Petrus is the culmination of the 25 years of the existence of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge.

Dr Berry has recently been awarded the papal Cross Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, in recognition of her work.

Dr. Mary Berry talking with Monsignor George Stack at the 'Towards Advent' Festival, Westminster Cathedral.

Dr. Mary Berry talking with Monsignor George Stack at the 'Towards Advent' Festival, Westminster Cathedral.

It offers an opportunity to discover and enjoy the riches of Catholic culture in books, film, art, music and the media. Dr Berry will lead a workshop on Gregorian Chant at the event.

Dr. Mary Berry and the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge meeting with Pope John Paul II in Rome.

Dr. Mary Berry and the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge meeting with Pope John Paul II in Rome.

The Cantors of the Schola Gregoriana of Cambridge are her specialized group of young professional singers who have been exploring with her both different repertoires and different styles of performance practice.

* Reviews of their recordings include the following accolade for -

havp148

HAVPCD148 – The Splender of 13th-century Salisbury Cathedral.

“If there is a more beautiful chant recording than this, I have
yet to hear it.” – Early Music Review.