Saturday, January 05, 2008

Sacred Music Workshop promotion

We are rather startled and very happy to see that our announcement of our February 1-2, 2008 workshop, in Auburn, Alabama, is all over the Catholic papers this weekend, and on the front page of the paper of our own archdiocese. It is striking because this was not the experience 5 years ago. We would send our releases out and the editors would look at them with suspicion. "Hmmmm, what is this 'chant' thing?" "These people might be Lefevbrites or something."

That whole atmosphere is changed completely, as editors now recognize that chant and polyphony is at least part of the contemporary Catholic music experience -- they might not understand that it is the V2 ideal but that will come in time.

Another point this year: we have raised the bar a bit for participation in the workshop, but suggesting that the ability to read music is necessary. This is something of a departure from previous years. It is also a bit risky, given how gutted American Catholicism has been of musical talent for decades. But the hope is that this workshop will set higher standards of excellence in general and reflect the reality that Catholic music is a serious matter.

Our chant director Arlene Oost-Zinner points out that no parish would commission vestments from someone who can't sew, or ask someone who can't bake to make cookies for an event. A person who can't read or speak would not be put in charge of lessons. It is the same with music: we have to have living examples of high standards as a way of inspiring people to take on Catholic music as part of their life commitments. We have to show that excellence is needed and valued. We are a long way from rebuilding musical skill levels in our parishes, but we'll never get there unless we show what is possible.

In any case, we are very much looking forward to this event!

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