Seven Days of Heaven, or a week in “Indie”

Photo courtesy of Charles Cole

I have a certain respect for the cultural assignation “indie.” Basically it’s a post-boomer rhetorical add-on to both the lexicon and parlance for artistic endeavors and projects un-beholden to “the man” or “the machine.” In filmdom and popular music is where one finds its most common usage. Directors like Gus Van Zant. Werner Herzog, John Sayles (to name but a few) and musicians such as Jewel, Kurt Cobain and Ani DiFranco distinguished their total independence from the artistic status quo and the requisite funding and handling that attends their respective industries. However, for the hundreds and even thousands of secular (and, who knows, sacred) “indie” artists who achieved acclaim on their own, by their own rules and inertia, most of them ended up integrating into the interdependence of the “machine” who recognized, funded and marketed their unique visions and voices so as to charm and enchant larger audiences to the spices and perspectives of their particular artistry to massive scales. It’s how this world works.

It is to this progression from independence (not liberty) to interdependence that occupies my heart this day after finally getting home from “Indy.” That and “jet lag” (four hour flight, hour to car from LAX, three hours to home and hugs, including total facial from senior French bulldog!) I was eight years ago almost disdainful of the attribution of “Seven Days of Musical Heaven” to the CMAA Colloquium. Seven years ago I decided to check out for myself this clever shill and then discovered true intra-dependence among the faculty and 100 attendees at the 2007 DC colloquium. Coming from a perspective informed both by independence (at the job level of teaching and parish) and corporate mindsets cultivated by NPM and ACDA, I had never before been swept away by the intra-dependence of absolute consensus about the “task at hand.” That, of course, was and remains the fit, right, universal, beautiful and (to the best of all abilities) sacred worship of our Creator by a manner of His creation: the art of music.

(Picking up essay Wednesday morning.) The first thing that comes to mind about the willingness and discipline involved in moving from independence to interdependence results from listening to one recording at Carl Dierschow’s website, the ubiquitous Mozart AVE VERUM CORPUS sung at our first Mass by all 250 of us at Indy under Horst. I personally was transfixed and transformed in those moments, not using the score at all. It was glorious and truly enthused. And you can hear that, feel that when listening to the mp3! Well, think about this: Carl wasn’t there, yet he gifts us by taking upon the compiling of our archives. (A bunch of other folks I love and respect weren’t physically there, but they can be because of Carl.) And no one then or at any other moment of the week engaged in what other groups call “showcases” at their confabs. Another moment flashed through my synapses- a particular moment when Dr. Buchholz asked assistance from his brilliant wife for unifying an incipit passage in the Requiem among the sopranos, addressing her as “Dr. Nam.” It was both so appropriate and so loving a gesture. And this was my first year with any meaningful encounters with Dr. Nam. She had heard of my bronchitis and made a point of checking upon me and asking me if I was aggressively treating the infection. Then later she noticed me leaving the hotel for St. John’s Church and shouted after me, offering to drive me in her car.

Oh, and did I mention the Requiem? Oh, well, it was literally “musical heaven,” an occasion of deep faith and witness, but also of ineffable joy. The profound, unfathomable presence of the Catafalque, Fr. Pasley’s explication of it prior to Mass, and then his amazing, word perfect mini-homily about the cross-relation (pun intended) between what the Catafalque represents and the eschatology of the light emerging the jeweled windows of St. John’s providing us sure hope, even knowledge that “we are not alone.” And because of the Requiem (and particular the Dies irae, for myself) we are not independent of each other and our Creator, Savior and Succor.

There are not enough superlatives to laud Janet Gorbitz, Mary Jane Ballou and sweet Mary “Mezzo” for their efforts they inherited early this year in order that colloquium could even get off the ground. And it soared! Enough thanks I cannot express privately or publicly to Richard Chonak for untold hours and years he’s personally provided me life and career-edifying help. Those who’ve known me and yet remained my friends (!) over these seven years of colloquia and fori know I’m a puddle-of-tears softie emo (in the parlance of our time) but little things such as claiming dearest Wendi and her mom as my sisters, the brave, undaunted Jessica as my adopted CMAA daughter, the new tangible friendship of my incredibly hospitable roomie who essentially made my visit to Indy possible, which I caricatured as the new CMAA “Felix and Oscar Odd Couple,” and upon whom I saved my requisite faux pas for the very end, when I spilled red wine upon his immaculate white shirt simply by standing up when Dr. Labounsky was leaving the table at the final brunch! David, you are delight! May all good graces come your way.

I think of the amazing Aristotle! Our Aristotle, Esquerra, and his loving bride, flashing that incandescent, Cheshire Cat smile at every encounter, but yet so humble of heart after all the very real musical contributions and references for us for decades. And we are still interdependent upon those of us whom we’ve met at CMAA events for so many years. Kathy from Reno who’s quarter century of faithful, (gotta be sacrificial) attendance at colloquia is a sure foundation upon which all these beautiful young people can stand and sing our prayers. And the clergy? I’m speechless in anticipation of the renewal that some of our boomers, genX’ers and millennial priests and seminarians will assist our Lord in reviving the living traditions of our ritual faith expressions. Can it be that the ever eloquent and intellectually gifted Fr. Smith was the same person who quietly giggled when I uttered a sibilant a split second too early on Saturday and ducked when Horst’s head turned faster than the Terminator’s knowing that face would have red eyes of death by lazar beam? Yup, same guy.

We are also indebted to the Kathy Pluths, Arlene’s, JT’s, Norman from Oregon, Mary Ann the Singing Mum, and our cyber buds Noel, CDub, Liam, francis, J.Quick, RollingRJ, et al who were absent this year but ever-present. Told you all I’m a crier, in all meanings of that word. Lastly, there is only One-in-Three to whom we are totally DEPENDENT, and to Him I offer my thanks. And I should not be surprised, hopefully upon the moment when the purgatory light turns from red to green in my eyes, that when I first see my Maker, He’ll probably look not unlike William Mahrt. We were Indy, not “indie.” (No Pelagian implication intented!)

3 Replies to “Seven Days of Heaven, or a week in “Indie””

  1. Thank you for the mention, Charles, and for your support. I'm sad to have missed this year!

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