Monday, September 20, 2010

Inspiration in Chant Workshops

Do you know how the Gregorian Chant revival got started and has taken hold? What means were used? Here is the key: the small parish workshop, just like this one covered in the local LaCrosse, Wisconsin press.

In the last five years, there might have been as many as one hundred or more of these around the country. Turkington has been the main teacher but there are many others. These have been supplemented by week-long training courses and colloquia. It's also been helped by hundreds of training resources online.

An art historian might look at this and wonder: which billionaire is bankrolling this movement to make this possible? Herein we find the miracle. There is no billionaire. There is almost no funding at all. There isn't even a paid staff working behind the scenes to coordinate any of this. Not a single full-time employee anywhere is dedicated solely to pushing this movement forward, as remarkable as that seems. Every one of these events has been funded at the local level, with small donations and very thin margins on tiny budgets. It's been a sacrifice for everyone at every step.

This is regrettable in many ways, and yet not other ways. The energy here comes entirely from the grass roots. It springs spontaneously from the people themselves and their passion for good liturgy and beautiful art. In a strange way, the model here finds a structural parallel with the 1960s folk music revival, though it is of course dedicated to different ends.

What's important is what this implies for the future. Movements funded by billionaires can evaporate in an instant. History provides many examples. Movements that spring from the people working where they are tend toward greater longevity because there is more integrity and authenticity at their roots.
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