Dominican Brothers Stefan Ansinger and Alexandre Frezzato teach weekly lessons in Gregorian chant through their YouTube channel. CNS photo/courtesy OPChant

Ancient music given YouTube makeover

By 
  • March 19, 2020

FRIBOURG, Switzerland -- Dominican Brothers Stefan Ansinger and Alexandre Frezzato are teaching people to sing 800-year-old Gregorian chant through free weekly lessons on their YouTube channel called OPChant.

Internet users around the world are following Ansinger and Frezzato, who are getting positive feedback on the project.

“The amount of positive feedback from all sides is very impressive, it shows that we are responding to a current need,” said Frezzato in a recent interview posted on the website of the Dominicans’ Swiss province.

Frezzato is from Valais, Switzerland, and Ansinger is from the Netherlands. Both are seminarians studying at the University of Fribourg.

Launched last November, OPChant is the only channel on the Internet that teaches Latin chant in the Dominican tradition in a systematic way. Each video includes in its description a PDF of the score and the Latin words so people can study along with the brothers. They release one video a week, carefully following the Church’s liturgical calendar.

“I know that our videos have helped Gregorian choirs in England and America,” said Ansinger. “That was the original purpose of our project.”

The brothers said Americans “are the most enthusiastic” students, followed by Canadians, but “there are many and equally enthusiastic echoes in Switzerland and the Netherlands, which is normal given that these are our countries of origin,” Frezzato said.

Reaction to the OPChant project among fellow Dominicans also has been good.

“I remember one of our older brothers giving us some very useful advice when we recorded a few songs,” Ansinger 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.”

The two brothers said that, for them, the intellectual and spiritual fruits of carrying out this project are many, from the study of texts — “It’s important to know what you’re singing,” said Ansinger — to “efficiency, an increasing facility in deciphering, familiarity with Latin and an awareness of detail,” explained Frezzato.

“I find that the song resonates in me throughout the day. This can create a certain experience of ‘endless’ prayer, as St. Paul puts it,” said Ansinger.

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