Friday, September 08, 2006

Still here. Haven't had much to say. But here's something.

Choir started up this week - we sing during the summer, but don't rehearse. Back to the regular drill now.

So only one rehearsal, and already I'm facing a near revolt over our concert situation. The choir, most of them, seem to be as much about reliving the glory years with a previous director, with pageants and cantatas and songs from Broadway, as about anything else. Maybe that's overstated, but it's certainly a dynamic. Me? I'm just trying to get them to sing for mass.

But the sticking point right now is the schedule - I'm anticipating the front office will insist that any Christmas concert be done during Christmas season. And they want to do it during Advent - which is when everyone is still hopped up on hearing Christmas carols, doing Christmas shopping, and having Christmas parties. I broached the idea of a "Little Christmas" (i.e., Epiphany) concert, that wasn't too popular either.

The world, of course, starts celebrating Christmas after Halloween. My wife starts in March, fercryinoutloud. To the secular world, there is no such thing as Advent - sort of like there's a Mardi Gras and an Easter, but no Lent in between, unless you count the smelt on the menu at Big Boy's. I suppose that's fine, but what should the church do? Should the church ignore Advent as well? Or just give it lip service at mass, and then conduct the rest of our business the way the world does?

If the answer seems obvious, it really isn't - it's partly the way I'm framing the question. The right-vs-left fights in the church over repertoire and ritual come back to this question a lot: how much of the world do we let into the church? Do we desanctify holy ground when we sing pop-style songs, or conduct the entire mass in the vernacular, or stand during communion or...? The counterargument is that keeping the world out of the church also keeps the church out of the world. And the world needs the church badly.

An interesting dynamic on the Christmas-in-Advent question is that the debaters often switch sides here: i.e., it's usually the NPM types who get fussy here, and the AGO/Adoremus types who suddenly get all laissez faire. There are valid pragmatic reasons for early Christmas concerts, most obvious being the school year: School concerts need to happen while the kids are in school, because a lot of them will be gone during winter break. Especially true at colleges, where students are often from somewhere else, and return home for Christmas. So here's this string of concerts going on all around us - why can't we as the church do the same thing? And then there's Christmas caroling. Our choir carols at a couple of local nursing homes each year - always a week or two before Christmas. So why is that okay but a concert not?

Another idea I put before the choir was a 12/24 concert, a la Lessons and Carols. But 12/24 is a Sunday this year, so masses will run to noon, and our Christmas Eve masses start at 4pm anyhow. I suppose a 1pm-3pm concert is possible. This requires more thought.

One last issue - It's our Casavant's 25th anniversary this year. Eighteen stops, absolutely gorgeous French romantic sound...

...and essentially mothballed since my arrival there 2+ years ago. My organ playing just doesn't measure up. My bad. But I know good organists who could put on a heck of a concert. So it would be great if we could work the anniversary in to the concert - but that would sort of force the concert to be before 12/31. Ruling out Little Christmas. Sort of.

< Fagin >I think I'd better think it out again!< /Fagin >

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