Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Folk Choir Unplugged: Raising the Curtain

With just a couple of days left to go before Thanksgiving, I got THE phone call today from our editors at World Library Publications:

"From Gethsemani to Galway: The Notre Dame Folk Choir in Concert" has arrived at our distributors warehouse in Chicago, and it can now be ordered and shipped! If you're interested in doing this over the phone, you can call (800) 566-6150 and speak with the customer service reps. But the phones have been swamped for the last month (good news – but also reason to be patient!). You can, however, order online. Click here for a link to the online ordering site at WLP.

I still remember when this project was born: Jerry Galipeau, Keith Kalemba, my wife Michele and I were at a lovely restaurant in the Greektown neighborhood of downtown Chicago, about a year ago. We knew the NPM convention was coming up, and we knew there would be many, many people there. And we also knew the legacy of a live concert with our ensemble.

Could we capture it? Could we get everything right on the first take? Could we trust to bringing together hundreds of assembly singers, making sure they were an integral part of the performance? (As it was, it ended up being well over a thousand voices that became a part of the recording).

Keith and Jerry were nothing but confident. And I was sure that we could gather together that faithful family of ND Folk Choir singers, past and present, no matter what kind of combination it turned to be. So from the start, we knew we had a great idea, a solid repertoire, and a title (which was my contribution to the effort) that spanned our creative story of the last thirty years.

Our producers, John McCortney and Keith Kalemba, worked their customary magic by taking an extraordinary night of song and translating it into something inspiring and cohesive in digital media. It's hard to describe how resounding is the singing of the assembly: somehow, John McCortney was able to line up both the "small choir" of the ND singers, and the "huge choir" of the assembly, making it sound both voluminous in that grand old church, yet also precise in its performance.

And listening to the takes, over and over again, I was once again inspired by the keyboard skills of my dear friend and colleague, Karen Kirner. Putting on headphones and hearing her creative cascades (listen to "Bless the Corners of This House" and you'll know what I mean) made me realize, as I do often, what an exceptional blessing she is to Our Lady's campus.

And to my fellow singers in the choir, both alums and current students, I can only say: you have once again enfleshed that mystery that always astounds me! In 36 hours, you brought your hearts and voices together as only a family of faith can do, and in this short amount of time created a group of choristers that sounded like they'd been singing together for years.

Yet in a way, we always have been. Time, distance, and diverse roads all melt away, once we open our hearts to sing – and we realize that the family is together, once more. It is the song that binds us. And this recording is a testament to that mystery.

May all of you have a blessed Thanksgiving!

No comments:

Post a Comment