Friday, August 1, 2008

Aftermath of Chant 'Boot Camp'

Last night was the second rehearsal of our Anonymous Two group here... we have discussed trying to locate a church location for our rehearsals... it would make it easier to promote and less of a drive for folks to attend (I live in the boonies). More on that as news develops... I am seriously considering using the 'stealth flyer' promotion campaign (sneakily slip flyers promoting our group in the backs of various churches in the diocese and see what results).

On another tack... As I was reading yet another inspiring story from a fellow Chant Intensive Workshop attendee, it occurred to me that it was high time to relate a few of these stories on the blog. I don't know how it happened, but among us graduates, the title for the course has morphed into Chant Boot Camp. Perhaps the high intensity of the week's training and the high level of skill-building it incorporated into the course... whatever it was, the new name seems appropriate. Here is another suggested name from the CMAA forum:

Our Chant Boot Camp platoon has now all been graduated to "The Green Birettas". Just think of Scott as John Wayne.

As I clip and paste some of these stories, I am sure I will miss one... so apologies in advance to anyone whose success wasn't mentioned here...

Here is one story from an attendee:

I wanted to share a small success story and thank you for the Chant boot camp (!) with our best drill sergeant Scott from which I got courage to do the following. Yesterday my schola sang at the Catholic Family Expo. Mass with Archbishop. We sang pretty well, considering we just started the schola. (Christus Vicit, which I learned at the workshop, was the best. There was a regular choir too.) It was a really good chance to introduce chants to people in this area. Probably many of them never heard chants before. Our chants schola had to sing with David Haas' music side by side. (I took it pretty well.)
After the Mass I handed my letter to an assistant to the Archbishop, since he was busy with many people around him. My letter was about my concerns on so called Contemporary Mass. I said this term seems to be used to say that the Mass is focus on Contemporary music and cut off from traditional music. I said it seens to be step backward from what our Holy Father is trying to do, and no church documents support it, and I mentioned a couple of reasons why popuar style music is not helping our faith, etc. I asked him to ban the use of the term, Contemporary mass. (I thought this will be a good first step.)
Guess what! he called me just now, personally. ( I don't know this is a usual thing, but I never had a phone call from an Archbishop before.) I was very nervous and thought I was done now. He said that the memo was good, and he will pass it to the priest who is in charge of Liturgy and is also concerned on this. (Hooray!) We will see what will come out of this, but at least I was able to convey our thoughts on keeping our traditional music in our liturgy.
Thank you, CMAA for all your work. I thought you might like to hear some success story after the Chant workshop. I was able to do that because of the workshops, books, articles that you guys put out. I'm in the front line, in a parish with a Contemporary mass and most of people who likes contemporary music. It's a hard work, but I really feel that God is helping us.( I really don't think there should be a Mass called contemporary mass. I do think, though, all the Masses should have at least Ordinary parts in Lain. After all, the Second Vatican council says all the faithful should be able to sing (or say) Ordinary parts in Church's official and universal language. And I was told that one of the responsibilities of music ministry people is to educate the faithful musically and liturgically.)

I'm in full gear now, recruiting people for two scholas in two different parishes. (this way I get to give them a choice to pick a different practice day.)

I made lots of flyers to recruit people from different parishes. Anyone who want to learn and sing Gregorian chant, which is declared by the Church as having its first place in Roman Liturgy, are invited. I sent flyers to different parishes, put an announcement in the local Catholic newpaper (and one of my devout schola and his wife go to different parishes and leave flyers in the back of the church, too). We also started a Latin class(Ecclesiastical) in our parish. We hired an instructor. (We got about 25 people for the Latin class. There are people out there who want to learn more about our Church's tradition.). I'm also planning to start a children's schola for home schooling children. This will be a good free music class for them too.

Here is another great story from a couple of guys who attended:

Here in N. we have finished our third month of the men's schola singing. That would be me, N. and our other schola member N. We have sung these last three months at our Saturday 5pm Mass in a simple prelude / second communion / postlude format, with much better sound and understanding since our week of study in Chicago. The schola is preparing for our "debut" on the first Saturday of September (and every first Saturday) with a full ordinary of mass, and some propers in chant with a couple of Latin hymns thrown in. This has been an interesting dance of the "spirit of Vatican II" with the actual intent of the V II. We're still working through with the Music Director and liturgical committee the final details but we are hopeful that all details will be resolved properly.

We have kept our attention to the immediate endeavor, as if you know anything about the Diocese of N., what we are attempting is radical and un-known territory. Our little schola is indeed on the raft and about to launch on the big dark ocean. Maybe after we have traveled a bit we will work on expansion and evangelizing. For now we get ready for September. We've been given a year (from September) to prove that this will work. I suspect it will take our hard work, patience and many prayers to St. Cecilia and guidance from the Holy Spirit!

Here is another posting... I'm trying to allow for some anonymity (although it will obviously be recognizable to those in the know about shrines, locations, etc.), so please excuse all the "N."s replacing the actual names of parishes, cities, etc...

Down here in N., we can’t boast of any parochial success. However, my independent women’s schola, the N. Schola Cantorae will possibly acquire another singer tomorrow evening. We will be singing Vespers on August 14th (First Vespers of the Assumption) and on September 8th (Feast of the Nativity of the BVM) at 6 p.m. in the Shrine of N. This is the oldest Marian shrine in the USA, dating from the 17th century (and rebuilt every time a hurricane blows it down). The director of the Shrine is eager to rebuild its reputation as a pilgrimage destination and is very supportive.

Most of the Vespers is in Latin with the two psalms in English. It’s somewhat of a “hybrid” of the Roman Breviary and the Liturgy of the Hours. But it’s a start. It’s also a heck of a lot of work. However, having done it, the next one will take much less time to compile (not necessarily to learnJ) And we have a basic website at

Plans going forward involve recruiting and then finding places to sing in a difficult liturgical environment. I’m also scheduled to give two short workshops at the diocesan retreat center in the next several months. So my theory is that we just soldier on – sooner or later, the ice has to break up down here.

I like to think how each one of us is slowly making a difference. Even if my opportunities and successes are limited in this area, I know we’re all in this together.

Here is one of the most recent...

It's N. from N. here. So good to hear the conversation of late--I need it right now. I had a feeling my life was going to change after the Chant Intensive and Colloquium (my first time for both), and change it did! My first week back, I got a new teaching job that would allow me more time for some kind of liturgical work. The second week back I found a condo I could afford to buy (my first home purchase ever), in a good location for my new job, and the third week back I was asked if I would be interested in leading the music for the "Latin Mass community" who were invited a year ago to celebrate the liturgy at our cathedral in N. I had several days to think it over while other people were weighing in on the decision, during which time I glanced at the possibility of declining the offer in order to utilize my free time in a less demanding way. My main idea had been to JOIN a chant choir, not plan, rehearse, and direct the whole thing. So much work! But the opportunity to build up a Gregorian schola at the cathedral seemed such a potentially very rewarding challenge and also a sort of directive from Above coming as it did at this time, that my hesitation has given way to confidence that I'll be given whatever guidance and stamina required. So in I jump with both feet. I know folks like you as well as CMAA will be a great support.

(Edited) Here is another success story from one of our fellow attendees... I couldn't locate the details of their story when I first posted... here it is:

The schola that we started last year according to Jeffrey and Arlene's "Garage Schola" model, had been singing on its own, and then once a month for the OF at a nearby parish. In late April, we found out that a priest was transferring into the Diocese to say the EF, and when we went to the 'organizational' meeting, it turned out that we were the only people in the area to sing, so by default we became the Schola for the Missae Cantatae, which are currently being celebrated once a month. We've sung for two of them now, plus we sing hymns at the Low Masses, plus an EF funeral, and tonight we had First Friday with an EF Mass, followed by Adoration and Benediction. I have to say that none of this would have been possible without our wonderful priest, the experience I gained singing at Chant Intensive and the Colloquium, and last but not least, the Parish Book of Chant, which we use for everything. And did I mention that this is in a 200 year old Mission Church?

A gentleman walked up to us tonight afterward and thanked us for singing. He said that it was nice to have the Latin Mass, but that the music is what really made it wonderful for him. Not bad for a Garage Schola! It reminds me of movies like "The Guardian", where inexperienced people learn new skills (drawing on the Boot Camp analogy again) and then are thrust into the real world where they still feel green and inexperienced, but their training makes them more knowledgeable than anyone else around, and they have to adjust to their new roles. We feel incredibly blessed.

This is just an indication of the grassroots (Green biretta) efforts of another group of people who love beautiful Sacred Music and who are trying to make a difference where they are.


Mary Jane said...

Thanks for consolidating this, Janet! It's all about moving forward.

This morning while I was practicing the Te Deum, I was overcome with fear that I was singing/phrasing/timing/etc it "wrong." Then I thought, "Yeah, but I'm singing it - and that's a long way from where we were a year ago."

Anonymous said...

I found your blog and I thought that you might be interested in the musical act called The Priests. What separates this classical trio from others is that they really are catholic priests, who have recently signed a recording contract with Sony BMG. They are currently recording an album of classic hymns from the Latin Mass but you can find them on their
and even on youtube If you like what you hear it would be great if you could help them become better known to the public by mentioning them in one of your blog posts one day.

Thank you

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