I wanted to spend some time sharing memories and photos of last week's NPM convention with you.
Sunday evening, at sunset, I walked down to the "Arch" in Saint Louis, just a beautiful spot.
On Monday morning, we began setting up the WLP booth in the exhibit hall. We had some cool new crates that had been constructed by our warehouse team here in Chicago. Here's WLP editor Keith Kalemba next to the new huge crate.
After spending time in the exhibit hall helping our team set up the WLP booth, it was time for me to find a quiet place to prepare for my keynote address. I went into the convention hall and this was my view from the speaker's platform. Probably shouldn't have gone in there before the presentation!
At any rate, the time arrived for the keynote. Here I am, nervously awaiting the introduction. Something happened in the building just before I was to speak; someone opened a dock door somewhere, causing a massive shift in air pressure in the building. I could hear things behind me being knocked down and then the wall behind me began to buckle forward and small pellets of styrofoam began falling from the ceiling; just like it was snowing! Anyway, there I sat, waiting.
Then the time came and I mustered all my energy to deliver the keynote address, certainly one of the most challenging moments of my life: Good News for a Wounded People.
About halfway through the keynote, I said this: "Several years ago, when the topic and description for this keynote presentation was formulated, we were in a very different place as a Church. When I accepted the invitation to speak with you today on this topic, there was one thing in our Catholic life that had note yet come to the surface. And this factor has apparently begun to make a significant difference in our world."
It was at that moment that I flashed an image of Pope Francis up on the jumbo screens. I took my next breath, expecting to go on with the talk when the crowd erupted into applause. And that applause went on, and on, and on. It was a powerful moment.
I focused on the pastoral musician's need to embrace the phrase from Paul VI in Evangelii Nuntiandi: "We exist in order to evangelize." Here was a centerpiece of the keynote:
"Each and every time you open that responsorial psalm as a cantor, take your breath, and begin to sing the sacred words, yours is no less a deeply ecclesial ministry of evangelization than the ministry of Pope Francis. Each and every time you pick up your flute, your oboe, your guitar, your drumsticks, your violin, your handbells, as you prepare to inspired God’s people with the gift of music, yours is no less a deeply ecclesial ministry of evangelization than the ministry of Pope Francis. Each and every time you work for hours on end to shape a choral sound that brings beauty and dignity to the liturgy, yours is no less a deeply ecclesial ministry of evangelization than the ministry of Pope Francis. When the hymn is announced and you are at the ready with your hands and feet positioned to begin the introduction at the organ or piano, what you are about to do is no less a deeply ecclesial ministry of evangelization than the ministry of Pope Francis."
My feelings when it was all over? Humble. Relieved. A heavy sense of respnsibility. Grateful to so many for so much powerful feedback.
Tuesday afternoon and it was time for WLP's choral music showcase. A photo of the rehearsal for the showcase, capably and gracefully led by our own Mary Beth Kunde-Anderson.
And of course it is not all serious all the time. Here is a selfie I took with Paul French as we prepared to begin the showcase.
I had kind of dreaded what the weather was supposed to be like in Saint Louis in the middle of July. But the polar vortex had other ideas and the daytime temps were in the 70's, which made walks in the downtown area comfortable and relaxing.
On Wednesday evening, WLP sponsored two events. One was held at the Shrine of Saint Joseph, "Music She Wrote," which featured works by WLP's fine women composers. It was a delightful one hour. Here is a shot of the interior of the church.
An hour later, we sponsored a musical event featuring WLP's composer, artist, arranger, and editor Ed Bolduc and musicians from his parish, Saint Ann's in Marietta, Georgia. Again, a delightful one-hour of music making in a contemporary genre. Here's a cool shot I took of Ed at the piano.
I was overwhelmed all week with the pride and gratitude I feel for the many people here on the WLP staff, our composers, workshop presenters, artists, and musicians. It was a wonderful week.
There is only one disappointment about the week; there simply were not enough people in attendance. We work so hard and it has been getting more disappointing each year as the numbers don't seem to grow. We have lots of confidence, however, in Monsignor Rick Hilgartner, the NPM new president, as he begins his leadership position. This is an open forum, so if you are one of those who did not attend, I would love to hear the reasons why. Thanks for any comments you want to share.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.