RSCM: Really Spectacular Churchy Musicmaking
I just returned from a week of wonderful music-making at the Royal School of Church Music-America's Choir Camp at Newport. I was the vocal coach, which meant I spent hours standing up, walking around, teaching voice classes and modeling good choral technique for 60 trebles and 14 adults. I wish there had been time to work with each singer individually! I did try to spread the gospel of vocal technique as revealed to me by Jeannette LoVetri. ;) You can see some photos of the camp here. We sang spirituals, motets, hymns with larynx-rending descants (written by the 11 year olds in "Descant Class"!), and we chanted a lot of Psalms. Our wonderful organist improvised preludes on the spot. We congregated in choir lofts and choir stalls. We used no microphones. We sang the Mozart "Little Organ Mass" in Latin. The rehearsals were held in the opulent rooms of Ochre Court, the mansion that was donated to the Sisters of Charity in the 1940s and became the first building of the Salve Regina campus. Singing classical music in Ochre Court in summer happily reminded me of my summer singing with AIMS in Graz, Austria!
While we were hosted by a Catholic university, the Morning Prayer and Compline were Anglican, the venues for our Evensong and liturgy were Episcopal, and the choirs at Newport all came from Episcopal and Congregational churches. It was very beautiful and reverent, but I was a little sad when I realized it will be a long time before I see 74 Catholic singers from ten different choirs spend a week of their lives in Rhode Island, learning how to sing better at Mass. RSCM America does have some Catholic parishes using its curriculum, and I hope more find out about it. I wish I had known more about it when I was a choir director/cantor at St. Anthony in Hillsdale, Michigan.
My True Love was off picking up our kids from camp, so some of my fellow church musicians -- Jason, Ben, Astrid, Zach, Ernest, Mark, Waylon -- took me out to dinner at The Black Pearl for my birthday. They helped me remember there are good things about getting little bit older -- namely, you make more and more good friends! The best part was when I revealed my true age and one dinner companion looked at me and said, "Bitch."
And now, on to Quonnie: The Musical, which is in rehearsals right now. The entire 15-member cast arrives tonight for rehearsal. The kids have memorized their lines so tonight instead of a runthrough of just the songs, I'm going to try to run the whole show. Today I'm also making rocks out of refrigerator boxes. I love my life!