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Montgomery, Cheri. Latin Lyric Diction Workbook.

Montgomery, Cheri. Latin Lyric Diction Workbook. Nashville, TN: S. T. M. Publishers, 2016. Paper, viii, 132 pp., $32.50. ISBN 978-0-99165590-8

Although Latin diction does not receive the amount of attention paid to English, Italian, German, and French pronunciation, singers are regularly required to use it in choral settings, as well as in solo repertoire. Until recently, literature on Latin diction has been sparse; while rules for pronunciation appeared as a brief chapter in some diction textbooks, most pedagogues relied upon Singers' Liturgical Latin: Rules for Pronunciation plus Standard Sacred Texts with IPA Transcriptions and English Translations by Robert S. Hines (Lavergne, TN: Lightning Source, 2003, reviewed in Journal of Singing 60, no. 4 [March/April 2004]: 413). Leslie De'Ath recently addressed the challenges posed by the language in "The Latin Problem--How Much Does a Singer Really Need to Know?" in Journal of Singing 72, no. 5 (May/ June 2016): 589-604.

Now Cheri Montgomery, who has made extensive contributions to pedagogic materials for lyric diction, has written a workbook for the study of Latin. Introductory notes provide definitions for terms used throughout the book, as well as a summary of the characteristics of Latin. Rules outlined in the workbook are based upon the Hines text cited above. A concise pronunciation guide presents each Latin sound in its transcription into the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), as well as an English word with the same (or similar) sound. The prefatory material also includes a chart that summarizes the classification of consonants and vowels.

The volume consists of seven chapters. The first five sections lead the reader through the sounds of Latin; each chapter contains a listening assignment, which is a choral text that has frequent occurrences of the topic under study. Drawing upon the lyrics of sacred choral texts, Montgomery offers exercises in enunciation and transcription. Enunciation exercises give specific directions for correct pronunciation, and rules for transcriptions are summarized. Each chapter concludes with worksheets that offer practice in transcription. The presentation is thorough and well organized.

The final two chapters of the book are devoted to Germanic Latin. Matthew Hoch, who authored these chapters, cites a lack of published resources on the subject. In recent years, performers and audiences developed an interest in historically accurate performance practice, and in keeping with this quest for authenticity, many conductors use regional pronunciation for works written by German speaking composers. Conductors such as Helmuth Rilling and Peter Schreier adopt Germanic Latin in their performances, and Hoch turned to these choral leaders, as well as recordings, to summarize the standard usage.

Montgomery wrote the Lyric Diction Workbook Series for Italian, German, French, and English (reviewed in Journal of Singing 62, no. 1 [September/October 2005]: 104), IPA Handbook for Singers, and Phonetic Readings for Lyric Diction (reviewed in Journal of Singing 72, no. 2 [November/December 2015]: 254-255), all of which are published by S. T. M. Publishers. Montgomery is also the coauthor of Exploring Art Song Lyrics: Translation and Pronunciation of the Italian, German, and French Repertoire (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012). With the most recent publication, Montgomery offers pedagogic guidance for Latin with the well organized approach that is characteristic of her output.
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Author:Greschner, Debra
Publication:Journal of Singing
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2016
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