Chant Workshop Report

At the risk of blowing my own horn, I’m happy to report on the success of the Introduction to Chant workshop at Marywood Retreat Center in Jacksonville this past Monday. 

I was hoping for an enrollment of 10-15. There were over 40 people, including at least three choir directors!

The workshop combined a fast review of history (with a sidebar on musiciological disagreements), some very basic points on the notation and its development.  While I have been known to talk for hours, I knew they hadn’t come for me.  So we sang!  And then we sang some more.

Starting with a familiar Kyrie and Agnus Dei, then the Regina Caeli, on from there to an antiphon with an English psalm.  And while the great choirs of Europe and America need not fear losing their positions, the assembled group did a creditable job with me as teacher, conductor, and cheerleader. Were the intervals perfect?  Was it always clear unison or octave?  Of course not.  But we had a wonderful time together – and this opened a door for many singers to music they assumed was for a select few.

We concluded our two-hour session with Compline.  (OK, the Schola Cantorae took care of the Short Responsory and the Salve nos/Nunc Dimittis.)   And it made a perfect ending to the evening.  Three years ago I would have believed a workshop like this to be impossible in northeast Florida.  I’d say things are on the move.

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About Mary Jane Ballou

Mary Jane Ballou’s life in sacred music began in a children’s choir at the age of three. Instrumental music waited until her piano lessons started in primary school. And her music life remains a joyous pairing of sacred vocal music and the instrumental repertoire of Spain, Ireland, and Scotland.

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