There's a pretty amazing Pipe Organ in the Sacred Heart Basilica and, following requests from some guitarists, I have inquired about the appropriateness of guitar music in the basilica. It is interested how it is approached by people who have been involved in the two different churches in the parish. Those at St Thomas' Church cannot see anything wrong with having guitars in the basilica; but those from the basilica are vehemently opposed! - in one case, citing writings from Various popes stating that the music must be appropriate for the building.
From Saint Pope John Paul II: Today, the meaning of the category ‘sacred music’ has been broadened to include repertoires that cannot be part of the celebration without violating the spirit and norms of the Liturgy itself. Not all the expressions of music are able to express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church's faith. Consequently, not all forms of music can be considered suitable for liturgical celebrations. (Chirograph on Sacred Music, 2003)
Recently, I visited the Catholic Cathedral Parish in Palmerston North, which has a similar building. They have a guitar group, along with other instruments and play some quite "happy-clappy" music - and the congregation seem to enjoy it. (I was hoping for a glorious pipe organ and a choir, as the Musical Director has had plenty of experience in both). Maybe it was only because of school holidays - but the large organ in the gallery remained silent. Pity.
As it happens, there are two weeks at the beginning of July and at August where the 5pm Mass has lost its "organist" and I wonder whether some guitar music might be good for them?
How often do people say, "you have a good ear" I wonder? Well, obviously it refers to your ability to recognise tuning, notice mistakes and general musical skill.
How scary is it when you consider that "a" good ear implies that only one of your two ears is good (an ongoing joke, I have) - but that was something to genuinely worry about last weekend. I lost 80% of my hearing in my right ear for two days. Why? Don't know. Going to find out though.
In the meanwhile, what I noticed was how debilitating it was, musically, to only have "a" good ear. I have decided that my right ear is the one that can hear mistakes and my left ear is that one that only notices good things. During a Sunday Mass, I was playing a number of grand old hymns and I could not hear any mistakes, despite the fact that I occasionally found my fingers sitting on the wrong keys! I wish I had been recording it, because no doubt I developed some interesting harmonies that obviously fitted in somehow.
I've decided that I don't want to become deaf. It is stressful enough being half-deaf, temporarily. No wonder Beethoven was grumpy!
So the Sacred Heart Basilica Choir and Orchestra have been thwarted by an early winter storm with Cantores not able to join us tomorrow evening, due to falling trees, power lines and snow already scattered on the hilltops - as well as a severe weather warning for snow to "near sea level" on the night of the Mass. Well, I say thwarted, but really, that's not a problem for us - it's just a postponement - and we shall be in strong voice tomorrow evening ourselves. I suppose that a delay until about 15 June will give us time to go through Parry's "I Was Glad" and join Cantores in that.
The Sacred Heart Basilica Choir and Orchestra Facebook fan page already has disappointment expressed, including a lovely comment, "I Was Sad" (haven't laughed so hard in a long time!), since a number of the Cantores choir members were friends and family of Timaru folk. Be calm, everyone; we shall prevail! And there is still a stunning choir singing tomorrow night, after all!