Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Experiment . . .

My apologies for not blogging more regularly, though Cantor is making up for me quite admirably, I must say. I just recently accepted a job offer to take another position starting in the summer, and now I need to: 1) sell my house 2) buy a new house 3) help find another person to take my current job 4) get ready to start a new job and 5) have a baby, among a gazillion other things. So, yes, my blogging will be light to say the least.

Cantor and I had talked about trying something a little different with this blog when we started it, namely, occasionally using a dialogue format. When Cantor accepted his current job last August or September, we e-mailed each other back and forth quite a bit, sharing ideas and frustrations. Needless to say, in our e-mail archives we have some dialogues that could be interesting to post.

I'm not sure exactly how the best way to format these is so any feedback is most welcome. Here's a short one to get the ball rolling.

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Let me impart one important piece of advice to you as you begin this new position: make changes VERY SLOWLY! I made the mistake of trying to turn the music program upside-down when I got here and it kind of rocked the boat. It took awhile for some folks to jump on my bandwagon since I basically insinuated that the previous directors were lacking. Keep the peace for 6 months to a year before any major changes. That's my two cents.

I've kept this and similar admonishments in mind over the past couple weeks. The furthest I'm going so far is doing some unfamiliar stuff from (ed. - their hymnal). I'm not chucking any old Mass parts or anything, but I'm hoping (ed. - a new Mass part) is popular enough to warrant replacing (ed. - one from an older hymnal) - eventually. They don't have the Gelineau psalm book, which I'd like to use at the "organ" Mass, and I'm planning on having the Passion chanted on Good Friday. Introducing polyphony with the choir, Tye "Give Almes of Thy Goods". The Tye will be a weeks-long project, I'm sure. Gelineau can wait; they do have Guimont, which I think is generally ok. But yeah, I'd have to admit to being a bit overzealous about introducing new things.

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Commentary from Cantor:

I’d say some people reacted negatively to me at first, but just about everyone’s “on the bandwagon” by now. In a way, I’m glad I “came out swinging”, since if I’d gone more slowly, I’d have to deal with the “but you were doing this before” argument.

As an example, since the 2nd weekend I planned here, we have sung all the Proper psalms from Guimont or (the since-purchased) Gelineau. This is a change from before I got there, when seasonal psalms were sung from the Haugen/Haas psalter or others. I’ve also encouraged cantors to lead these from the ambo, rather than from the music area (which is about 10 feet from the altar on the other side).

When people have asked, I’ve said that yes, my predecessor and I have different views on some things - and I’ve then used that as an opportunity to justify using these types of Psalm settings by pointing to relevant normative documents. (It helps that the pastor and pastoral associate have both appreciated having the psalm of the day, too.) I’ve got a couple “grumblers” still who don’t like the chanting, but the “right people” - those most interested in having good liturgy - are with me.

The Passion chanting fell through; the lector trainer insisted that lectors are better able to give a dramatic reading. It didn’t occur to me that, if she likes my cantoring, I can do the narration, the priest (who chants well) will do Christ.....so we just need to find a “turbist” who can sing with drama. The lector trainer, though, is right in that our cantors still haven’t generally “gotten it” as far as proclaiming text “on pitch”.

2 Comments:

At Thursday, March 23, 2006 12:14:00 AM, Blogger ScholarChanter said...

At my campus ministry, our newly ordained associate pastor has been a church musician for a while before he became a priest. As a choir director who serve under the direction of this director of worship who is very particular about many things, sometimes it is nice to get very specific directions, and sometimes it is very trying.

Because the campus ministry is in much debt after the construction of a new building, the previous "administration" used worship aids patched together with some licensing from GIA and OCP. With the new priests, we went to using the OCP "Breaking Bread" subscription missal/songbooks. Because we suddenly had a large increase in available songs, I tried to use songs that I thought were fairly well known by many people, as these songs have been around for a while, but that didn't work so well, as the congregation didn't know any of these songs! Alas.

Since that first Sunday, we have been introducing songs a bit more gradually.

 
At Thursday, March 23, 2006 1:42:00 AM, Blogger Cantor said...

Condolences on having to use OCP....

We *really* need a change from the market that sets up companies whose livelihood depends on making congregations learn new music....

 

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