Sunday, February 03, 2008

Singing at the National Cathedral

Yesterday, we got an opportunity to take part in something very special. On Saturday, the Royal School of Church Music celebrated its 80th anniversary with an amazing musical service in the National Cathedral. The RSCM is the organization which charters the boys' choristers program. Here's what the Cathedral website had to say about the program:

An intergenerational choir of over 500 voices from RSCM member choirs throughout the eastern United States will sing from the new RSCM resource book Psallam, liturgy and music exploring the Psalms and based on North American sources, compiled by John Harper and Benjamin Hutto. The Rev. Canon Carol Wade, Cathedral precentor, will be the officiant.

Sixteen members of our church choir, including four of our choristers, met at St. Peter's to sing for the day. In our group, we had people ranging in age from 8 (Luke) to 80 (Olive).

At 7 o'clock we set out, to arrive and check-in at the Cathedral at 8 o'clock. Then, it was a very long day of practicing from the Psallam. Leading us were five amazing musicians and conductors, including Drs. Harper and Hutto, and Dr. Michael McCarthy, Sonya Sutton, and the Rev. Dr. William Bradley Roberts. We practiced all day long, only breaking a few times and once for lunch.

We practiced over one dozen songs, and all of them were really challenging, but very beautiful tunes. We sang a piece of liturgical jazz called Trisagion by Dent Davidson. We sang a Spanish song called Qué Mi Oracíon, a Hebrew song called Sh'ma Yisrael, and German piece by Bach called Lob und Preis sei Gott dem Vater. The Magnificat was beautiful, a piece by Dorothy Papadakos.

It was amazing for me to be part of this 550 person choir in the most amazing and humbling setting of the National Cathedral, under the direction of these amazing conductors. I simply don't know how to express how lucky I feel to be part of this service. (Doing my best to sing tenor!) Of course, Becky and the boys sang too, sitting in the alto and treble sections, respectively.

Finally, by 3 o'clock, the service began, and lasted until 4:30. Afterwards, we returned home, very exhausted, but filled with a sense of something wonderful. To have been in this Cathedral, the very one where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke the quote which has graced the sidebar of my page since its beginnings, was really a treat.

Here are some photos. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to capture any of the performance.

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