This, the Church Music Association of America’s annual weeklong colloquium. Maybe. Not decided yet. And I am thinking out loud, so let’s list out some pros and cons.
Why I should go
1. More traditional liturgy is a hole in my game, as I recently figured out; I think I need to know more about it and to be able to do it. The traditional liturgy (whether Ordinary Form or Extraordinary Form), for better or worse, seems to be gaining in use, so this would provide a lot of help if I need to know it.
2. The EF is part of the week. Never have been to one. I have no particular attraction to it, but it wouldn’t hurt to experience it.
3. It should stretch me more than the NPM conference the same month. Most of what NPM does is well within my comfort zone. (I should go to an NPM convention at some point, though.)
4. Friends live not too far away (the conference is in Indianapolis and they live 20 minutes outside the city), and I can visit with them during the week, or even stay with them for at least part of the week.
5. The colloquium promises a big stack of free music. Tim likes free.
Why I shouldn’t go
1. It costs a lot, even if I stay with the aforementioned friends. And NPM is significantly cheaper. (Though the two events are not simultaneous, I can’t afford to go to both. Something about a mortgage and day job.)
2. This is the bigger issue: I’m not really on board with what seems to be their perspective on the liturgy. They push the propers, which are largely call and response, which is borrrrrrrrrrrrring. Not solemn, boring. (Even when they try to spice it up.) And no matter how much they try to convince people that the chant-style propers are singable to the average person, I am not sold. Actually, I suspect they’re wrong, but they’re so darn sure of themselves. I remember listening to an episode of “Catholic Answers Live” with music traditionalist Jeffrey Tucker on it. He said the propers were singable, after singing an example (around the 33-minute mark) that didn’t seem easy to sing to me.
This isn’t to say I don’t like, say, chant. I do, and I’m totally good with using more of it — in fact, my main parish uses at least some piece of chant many weeks. But I suspect their perspective on the liturgy will remain a minority view. That having been said, I am willing to keep an open mind on this and listen to their arguments for myself, though I haven’t found them particularly convincing so far.
3. There’s an intimidation factor. I’m a weekend warrior as far as church music is concerned. I think I’m pretty good at what I do. But the subjects at hand here are something that I worry about being able to keep up with. And if I feel like I’m a bit behind, it might be tough on me mentally.
So it’s a lot to think about. I’ll keep you posted.