Sunday, June 21, 2009

One Day Before the Colloquium

I'm at Loyola University in Chicago, one day before the beginning of the Sacred Music Colloquium, which, despite all economic odds given the recession (or whatever you want to call it) is bigger than last year. The 260-page packet of music is on my desk, a gorgeous book in every way.

Some conductors are already here. The organizers are busy doing all the things that are necessary to pull off an event of this size and scale. Some people who attended last week's Chant Intensive--a success all around--are staying over, and planning trips to St. John Cantius this morning and other events before the whole apparatus is unleashed tomorrow.

And let us be clear on what is happening here. This is not a trade show. It is not a series of lectures. Every single person coming here, and there are some 250 people, will be actively participating in a chant choir and a polyphonic choir under a world-class conductor, and they will have to choose among several available options for polyphony - an impossible choice really. I know of no other event that compares in terms of training Catholic musicians of the future, training to be producers on the local level, to establish scholas to sing the Mass, to conduct and sing with the purpose of upgrading the liturgical experience in the Catholic framework (though there are many faith traditions that will be represented here).

Last year, there was a dearth of blogging that took place during this week. It is not just a time constraint, though that is real. It is effect of awe and tendency of the thrilling reality of what is taking place that tends to reduce everyone to a kind of silence. As much as the attendees might set out to live blog the event, it ends up being too overwhelming to describe. I'm hoping that this won't happen to me this year.

I'm here as a singer mainly, but I will be giving one evening talk on the theme of the importance of an open-source musical culture, drawing attention to the many resources that have become available in the digital age within the framework of sharing and imitation in musical creativity for liturgical purposes. It is a theme that many readers of this blog know matters a great deal to me. We are living amidst a new renaissance of liturgical music, and I'll try to trace out this reality and explain the contribution made by open sourcing of liturgical texts and music.

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