Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Going to the Chant Intensive

I took the opportunity a few weeks back to register for one of the 17 remaining openings for the Chant Intensive with Scott Turkington this coming June. It looks like quite a rigorous schedule with events from morning until into the night. I've sat on the fence for a while about taking part in one of these training sessions, but finally I have come to realize something. If we are going to undergo an "authentic update" of liturgical music in the Catholic Church, it is people like me who are going to have to lead the way.

While it certainly is important to have supporting legislation and documents from the Holy See, and we continue to pray that such will be the case not too far in the future, the fact is that the music will have to change at the parish level. The recent USCCB document, while rather impotent as far as its actual force of law, takes a new view of liturgical music, renewing interest in the actual Church documents from the Second vatican Council. While it doesn't open the door for the Church's treasures of Sacred Music to come back into the liturgy, it at least unlocks the door. The next move is up to those of us who are in charge of the music in parishes around the country.

Could we use some help? It would be a HUGE help to have some kind of statement, preferably from Rome, about the central role of music in the liturgy. Parish Music Directors need to have a seat at the table, not just an office in the choir room. Also, some kind of descriptive treatise, perhaps in the tradition of Tra le solicitudini, that would lay out some definite parameters for what music is appropriate for use in the liturgy would go a long way towards fighting the use of secular or secularized music at Mass. It may be hoping for too much to see a "ban" on things like guitars and drums at Mass (although it's not out of the question...) given their prominence in the current organization. However, they could well be marginalized if the liturgical style develops in the direction of "chant-based" liturgical music, particularly if unaccompanied singing becomes more prominent.

And so... I'm going to the Chant Intensive in June to brush up on my skills and perhaps get some new ideas to bring to my work. My graduate degree work was heavy on the study of polyphony and conducting, and an appreciable amount of study of chant, although it focused on the historical and musicological aspects. It was more than enough to get me through my AGO exams, but after that I have had little practical use for most of that knowledge. I guess I'm feeling at least hopeful that I might be able to dust off these skills (after more than 20 years...) and actually use them. There is something exciting in that hope.

1 comment:

Scelata said...

I am looking forward to it with an eagerness that reminds me of how I used to feel about Easter when "giving up chocolate" or some such was my primary Lenten observance.
And although things seem to be getting worse sometimes in my own little corner of Catholic music, it no longers depresses me, I have joyful hope about where the Church in general is going, liturgically and musically.

Save the Liturgy, Save the World!