Monday, August 25, 2008

Jam Session Two!

The wonderful weekend of Jam Session II began with the arrival of all the Texans on Friday. At three o'clock sharp, the time ere this agreed upon, Stephanie, Lucia, Rocio, Michelle and I got to the church and found Bobby Murphy, Joe Dugas, and Sam and Aly Sentmanat waiting for us on the sidewalk. Father Stanich, it seemed, had walked to Union Station with Bibiana and Domenico Gattozzi, Heather Dunsheath, Catherine Warrington and Heather's cousin Rolf; and they were, of course so tired that they had decided to call and have someone go from the rectory to pick them up! It was about half-past three that we finally headed up into the choirloft and, from joy (and a good bit of show-off-iness, I confess!), I sat down at the organ and gave them a thunderous rendition of the Toccata in D Minor. Then we began to sing, and we practiced Vittoria's Missa: O Magnum Mysterium and Kodaly's Ave Maria until the church began to fill for the six-thirty High Mass of the Immaculate Heart. Father Soos had not been feeling well, so it was Father Young that came in to say Mass to the triumphant music of Dunstable's Agincourt Hymn. The schola was the finest we've had since I forget when; Sam, Father Stanich, Dom, Joe, Bobby, Conrad Griego and Brother Gregory shook the church with the rich sound of their voices... Adeamus cum fiducia ad thronum gratiae! I felt ready to fly up into heaven indeed. After Mass we had a pizza party downstairs, and then the music began again! My voice was not in good shape so I only sang once, when Father Stanich requested the Habanera from Carmen; the rest of the time I accompanied the others. Sam had his violin out and so did Bibi, and I played the recorder when I wasn't playing the piano, and we had the rafters ringing. It was about eleven by the time we got home with all the girls and past midnight when we got to bed, after having some hot tea to soothe our tired voices!

Saturday was insane; we got up at seven and so many of us still had to shower (it's insane to have nine girls and one bathroom with a working shower!) that we were late to eight o'clock Mass! We had a pleasant breakfast afterward in the rectory and Lucia wore her new T-shirt of Ignacio's design, "Real Men Sing Square Notes;" the general reaction was very funny and Sam, another hard-core chant-lover, insisted on having one. Ignacio agreed to let him. Then we went back up into the church and -- guess what? -- we sang some more! The Mass was really coming together now and though I rested my weakened voice much of the time the choir never seemed to miss it, which I was very glad of. After a delicious lunch in the rectory we went to the basement and played the piano and fiddles for a while before we all piled into our cars (the girls with Father Stanich in the fifteen-seater, the boys in two or three smaller cars) and headed for the New Cathedral. Father Stanich gave us a guided tour and talked about the magnificent mosaics (our New Cathedral has the largest mosaic collection in the world.) Unfortunately when the original designer died his son took over the unfinished Cathedral and the two vaults on either side of the nave are modern and ugly, as well as a couple of mosaics farther back. As we came round behind the high altar I saw a couple of men by the organ and asked if I could play it (it's an incredible instrument!) but they said no. However, when Father Stanich asked if we could sing, one said, "Sure! Why don't you go out in front of the altar and sing up into the dome - that's where you get the best acoustics." It was unbelievable - we sang the Kyrie and Gloria of the Mass and I was dying to sing the rest, but Father warned, "Let's not push our luck." So we scattered and then rejoined to go to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel and the Chapel of the Holy Souls, then went out and took some group pictures in front of the Cathedral before piling back into the cars and heading for the school. On the way Father Stanich took our van-load of girls to see the statue of St. Louis in front of the Art Museum; then we went to join the others at QHR for a conference on Gregorian chant courtesy of Father Stanich, followed by the Rosary, before the barbecue, courtesy of Dad. It was a blast! We did our parody-of-Much-Ado-About-Nothing; it was a disaster, but fun! And afterwards we built a big bonfire on the field and played and danced in the firelight.

Sunday was the best of all; we sang the High Mass flawlessly, and I took over the organ and had the time of my life when we needed interludes, playing Bach, Dubois, and improvising, as well as joining Bibiana and Sam (violins) and Billy (at the organ) on my recorder to play Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring at Communion. After Mass I knelt down to say my thanksgiving as Bibi and Sam joined Dom at the organ for a Bach Double Concerto - gorgeous! - and all I got out was "Thank you, dear Lord," before I found myself sobbing for no reason at all. Then I went down to the church door with Father Stanich, but we were soon separated in the crowd and I just talked to all my friends and introduced them to the Texans, and we got all sorts of compliments on the Mass and the motets. We ate sandwiches in the basement for lunch, and then I went to the piano and Bibiana got out her violin and we performed Beethoven's "Spring" Sonata for Violin and Piano in F Major. It turned out very well and the parishioners liked it, to judge by the applause. About one-thirty we split into our various cars and drove to Mexico, Missouri, our sister mission-parish, to sing High Mass Number Three this weekend! The chapel is so small that we sang from the vestibule; the voices fairly shook the room. And afterwards we had a really fun potluck dinner in the parish hall, and at one point in the music-making Sam Sentmanat took over the keyboard (on drum setting!) for a hilarious few minutes of jamming out! Heather made a video of it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHuTQcMBbkk - it's really noisy, because the parish hall was jammed and everyone was talking at once, but you get the idea...

We got back into St. Louis about nine and headed over to the Flanerys' house for a surprise serenade of Mrs. Flanery, our parish secretary, poetess, actress and mother-of-ten; but alas, Father Young had given away the surprise and so the joke was on us -- the kids met us with cans of silly-string! Father Stanich, who was in the lead, got the worst of it -- I nearly fell down the porch steps trying to escape it, and I didn't see how many of the others got hit; but we all crowded into the house and discovered that Mrs. Flanery wasn't even home, since she and Mr. Flanery had gone to dinner at the house of another parishioner. Father Stanich promptly called to insist they come home, and somehow managed to convince them! So in a few minutes they came in, and we waited for the boys, who had still not arrived... and suddenly there was an explosion of music and in through the front door came Ignacio with his guitar and Sam with his fiddle, playing for all they were worth. We greeted them with cheers and applause and they played on and on; it must have been a full ten minutes before they cut off the last reel. Then Father Stanich, who was in dramatic mode tonight, called for silence and, going down on one knee (much to her dismay!) sang the parody of "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling" that I had written for Mrs. Flanery, to the accompaniment of Bibiana's violin. She loved it. We went out on the back porch and someone produced some immense cigars, and there was drink and smoke and music until nearly midnight (Ecclesiasticus forgot to mention the tobacco when he said, "Music and wine make glad the heart of man!") At last, however, we bade farewell (we had another eight o'clock Mass to get up for the next day! Ah, me!) and all went home to our houses, hotels and rectories...

Monday being the Feast of Saint Louis, we sang the Missa: O Magnum Mysterium one last time at the eight-o-clock High Mass, as well as Arcadelt's Ave Maria and Mozart's Ave Verum Corpus at Communion. While the choir went downstairs to receive Communion (they always go first), I played Jesu, Joy again, at Father's request, and then went down while the schola sang the Proper. The whole Mass was wonderful! Then we were served a hot breakfast downstairs, and we talked and talked, and of course there was more music, and then Father called for silence for some Announcements! The first was that Jam Session III will probably be in Albuquerque, in Conrad Griego's parish, around Christmastide; and the second (which I had known, but the others hadn't), was that Jam Session 2010 will be in no lesser place than... the Eternal City! I really hope we can all manage to go... I will have to study my Italian very hard indeed! After the announcement I quickly composed a poem and made all the Jammers sign a Spiritual Bouquet for Father Stanich, and gave it to him before I had to leave (all too soon!) for college, for this was also the first day of school. Theory and choir were fun but oh, how I wished I could have been with the others for the trip to Ted Drewes' (ah, St. Louis ice cream!), and the hilarious "group therapy" session everyone told me of later, with Rocio as the "psychologist" with Bobby Murphy's glasses! Ah, well... duty called, and there will be other "therapy sessions" at upcoming jams, promises the psychologist... ah, I love starting traditions!

2 comments:

Credo said...

I enjoyed reading the report. Will pray for you all tomorrow (September 6th) when I'm at Knock Shrine in Co. Mayo.

Agnes Regina said...

Ooh, thanks a bunch, Credo! I was Our Lady of Knock for our All Saints' costume party once!