I’m not sure what other choral tours or pilgrimages look like, but for the Notre Dame Folk Choir, weekends are definitely not the stuff of sleeping in late or sipping lattes in a cafe (though we are finding that Melbourne is an amazing city for coffee!).
No, for us the weekends are full throttle, as witnessed by our schedule: a five-hour diocesan day workshop, beginning with Morning Prayer, three different sets of seminars on liturgical music, lunch and a concert, followed by the Vigil Mass for the Feast of Pentecost. The former event, the diocesan liturgy day, was held at ACU’s campus headquarters in downtown Melbourne; the latter, a wonderful evening mass at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, a short walk away through the busy city streets.
The liturgical scene in this southeastern part of the country is very, very different from the United States. On the one hand, the vast majority of immigrants to the nation aren’t from Latin America. They are from Asian countries: China, Japan, the Philippines. Filipinos, especially, have a vibrant Catholic culture. But Spanish is almost nowhere to be seen.
Musically, about the only thing I have seen in pews is an antiquated hymnal called “Gather Australia,” a collection that’s about twenty years old – which means that all the settings for the mass are out of date. And – a lot of good music has been written in the past generation as well!
So there was no small sense of excitement as we brought our repertoire to this group of church musicians, some of which had traveled from as far away as Tasmania to attend this workshop day. The repertoire of the Folk Choir was received with great enthusiasm – everything from our standards, like “Set Your Heart” and “The Lord’s Prayer,” to newer compositions from our latest album (“Take From My Heart” and “Come, My Way, My Truth, My Life.”)
And after all of that – we celebrated Vigil Mass at Melbourne’s cavernous St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
What a great opportunity, to wed our repertoire to that of Christopher Walker, Bernard Kirkpatrick and Chrysogonus Waddell! It was a momentous, energetic, rewarding day’s work. By the time we were finished, we had brought our repertoire to a large swath of Melbourne’s parishes, just by holding a day-long workshop at a central Catholic campus.
And tomorrow, Sunday, will be just as filled with gatherings!