Oxford beckons for cash-strapped Perth musician

25 Feb 2009

By The Record

By Anthony Barich
Perth musician Andrew Cichy plans to reinvigorate church music in the Archdiocese of Perth, having been accepted by Oxford University to read the Master of Studies in Musicology.

Andrew Cichy

He will be resident at Merton College, where the Director of Chapel Music is also director of music of Tallis Scholars, an internationally-renowned choir specialising in Renaissance Choral music, which performed to a sold-out audience at Perth Concert Hall in 2007.
Mr Cichy, 24, has completed Honours in a Bachelor of Music, majoring in Pipe Organ Performance at the University of WA, the first student to do so in over a decade.
His Honours thesis, Father Albert Lynch: His Musical Contribution to WA and Beyond, the first academic study of the Perth priest’s life and work, brings together hundreds of hours of interviews and research from sources that might otherwise have been lost or destroyed. Mr Cichy’s work constitutes the most complete guide to sources on Fr Lynch produced to date. Born in Collie in 1900, Albert Lynch was a gifted violinist, who, by his early 20s, had risen to prominence in Perth musical circles.
Recognising the young man’s talent, the WA community raised several thousand pounds to enable him to study overseas and further develop his skills.
This period of overseas study was a crucial turning point in Lynch’s life: while studying in Belgium, he converted from Anglicanism and returned to Perth in 1927 as a Catholic. His stay in Perth was brief: sensing his vocation to the priesthood, Lynch was sent to Rome in 1930 to study at Propaganda Fide College by Archbishop Clune.
After being ordained at the Lateran Basilica in Rome on the 16th of March, 1935, the now Father Lynch returned to Perth to single-handedly change the face of sacred music in Perth, initiating a program of sacred music education in Catholic schools through which more than a generation of Catholic students learned the Church’s Gregorian Chant.
This culminated in thousands of students participating in diocese-wide Gregorian Chant festivals.
Fr Lynch also established St Mary’s Cathedral Choir – the first Catholic Cathedral boys choir in Australia – beating both Sydney and Melbourne to the distinction.
When the Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop Panico, visited Perth in 1941, he remarked that the Cathedral choir was finest choir he had heard in the Southern Hemisphere.
Mr Cichy, who claims descendancy in Fr Lynch’s musical tradition – having studied with Annette Goerke, who took her first organ lessons from Fr Lynch – envisions a similar plan for the diocese, having already run Gregorian Chant courses for several parishes across Perth. He needs $60,000 by July 31 for the one-year Oxford course, and he’s believed to be the first Catholic from the Archdiocese of Perth to read music at the prestigious English university.
“I want to help as many people as wish to be helped – parishes, schools, clergy, churches needing advice on sacred music or even considering installing a pipe organ,” he said. His plan to reinvigorate the diocese – as his inspiration Fr Lynch did – involves lecturing in sacred music, publishing scores, articles and other guides, providing resources for those who need them and continuing research into his personal areas of interest, plus aspects of liturgical music history, including those affecting the Archdiocese of Perth and New Norcia. He said the treasures of Church music are not just confined to Catholic churches, but are also a part of the wider community’s cultural heritage.
“What inspired me about Fr Lynch, was that he showed what can be achieved by one life when it is lived in the service of others,” Mr Cichy said.
To contact Mr Cichy to help get him to Oxford call 0439 922 446 or email cichya@hotmail.com.