Wednesday, February 22, 2006

More on the Style Wars

I think some people will never be "fed" by traditional music, or
choral music. Bob Batastini, late of GIA, suggested it may be a
background thing - if you sang in a good school or church choir
growing up, you appreciated choral music. Or playing in a symphony
or concert band with some exposure to the classics could do it. I
know my semesters in college choir a few years ago really broadened
my appreciation for choral works.

But many many people are never exposed to the joys of performing the
classics, or art music of any sort, and are not engaged by it in any
way. The numbers I heard, from a guy who should know, were that
about 4% of the population would actually choose to listen to
classical radio if it were available. Since his career is in
classical radio, I tend to believe him. Of course, some people
listen to news or opinion radio, and may still have an appreciation
for the classics. But an overwhelming number of folks are choosing
to listen to some other kind of music when they listen.

Some percentage of people, of course, prefer their church music to
be "holier", I guess. Or fitting with their tradition. And those
people are fed as well by the classics. But if you seek engaged
worship, there are a lot of people who want to sing or hear something
that sounds like what they choose to listen to during the week - a
hooky chorus, a cool beat, etc. Example: a year later, after only
one weekend of using it, people are still asking about the version of
Psalm 22 we sang at Palm Sunday - a hard rocking responsorial we
adapted for piano and choir. They were engaged.

You can dismiss everything that doesn't sound good on pipe organ as
cotton candy, but we're not really talking about God anymore at that
point, we're talking about personal preferences, and aesthetic
hierarchies that we were taught by our music teachers. It's my job
to reach the whole flock, so they get hymns and contemporary stuff,
every week. And hopefully (my ongoing mantra) learning to sing the
other guy's song in the process. That's part of our Christian
calling - the mile in his/her sandals. I don't think we're excused
from it just because our professors taught us that some types of
music were better than others.

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