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Thursday, September 2, 2010

There is in Her a Spirit

I'm really excited about an upcoming event hosted by the Episcopal Diocese of MN called "There is in Her a Spirit."  Why?  One of the presenters, Ana Hernandez, will be sharing "All the tunes you can eat" and hosting "An Evening of Heart Songs."  Doesn't that sound exciting?  (okay, so I am a little biased ...) 

I imagine these events will be elegant yet down to earth, fresh yet timeless -- much like the music I know of hers that is in the songbook, "Music by Heart: Paperless Song for Evening Worship." I discovered this wonderful resource about two years ago when I attended a workshop/retreat at Grinnell, IA for Episcopal clergy. 

What led you to get interested in that, you ask? 

Well, about five years ago I found myself making wonderful oratorio chorus music along with studying voice privately, but feeling somewhat dissatisfied.  I had reached a plateau and was seeking a new creative experience, though I don't think I could have articulated it at the time.  What happens is wonderful evidence of how creation aligns itself to help you.  I met my next outlet in a place I would not have expected: in downtown Minneapolis at a women's business leadership circle.  Falling on my knees and singing "Lasagna" as if I was Romeo and it was my Juliet on the balcony. 

Long story short, Barbara McAfee was giving a workshop on Vocal Presence for Leaders that day and she was inviting us to play with the different elements of our voice: earth, fire, water, metal, and air.  You could say she sparked my passion and it burst into flame!  (Barbara's in the process of writing a book on the voice and its elements.  Find more at http://www.barbaramcafee.com/).  Barbara let us experiment in all of those elemental sounds, taught us some fun rounds, and then invited us to attend her monthly community sings.  At "Singing in the Light" she taught more rounds, chants and songs in the aural tradition and encouraged improvisation (look at her calendar to find out when the next event is).  I started going and got hooked on its freedom and intimacy.  Barbara started a hospice choir about a year or two later which I joined, but that's a whole other story for another time. 

So how did I hear about the Grinnell event?  Sometime in early 2008 I spied a small announcement in a lay church leadership quarterly for a workshop that incorporates paperless music into worship and knew it I had to go.  How could I not? 

I attended the two-day Grinnell event and learned and listened to Don Schell, Scott Weidler, Marilyn Haskel and Ben Allaway with other wonderfully creative participants.  Decided I wanted more and traveled to Los Angeles for a three-day "Music that Makes Community" workshop All Saints Company offered.  Did more listening and learning from Don and Scott while meeting new presenters Rick Fabian, Emily Scott, and Eric Law and more wonderfully creative participants.  After that I was filled enough to go back and experiment with the congregation I was working at. 

Although I've formally studied piano longer, using my voice to sing has always been closer to my heart.  Growing up in southern MN, the options for music lessons were a bit limited.  The piano skills came in handy though -- I've worked as an accompanist and organist.  These experiences gave me nice supplemental income streams and a foundation for this work to grow.  So when I discovered another local congregation was seeking someone to lead a new worship service in a similar vein I jumped at the chance. 

And that's the long story for how I am an "evangelist" for the paperless "aural tradition" music for fun personal expression and worship. 

More about Ana: She is a sacred music composer, arranger, and performer who is currently a member of the recording group HARC. For more than a decade she has conducted workshops for people to explore the effects of rhythm and chant on their bodies (from her website). She is the writer of the blog, "Support Your Local Sacred Musician."  On September 21 and 22 she and Brian McLaren will be headlining the “There is in Her a Spirit” workshops.  Ana will be leading the following three events:

- On Tue afternoon and Wed morning she’ll be offering “All the tunes you can eat!” These two workshops will explore how we can refresh old tunes with new life and survey the newest music being published in the Episcopal Church - great for congregations who’d like a little more help in making a joyful noise.
  • Tue, Sept 21, 2 p.m. @ St. Mary’s, 1895 Laurel Ave, St. Paul
  • Wed, Sept 22, 11 a.m. @ St. Paul's, 1917 Logan Ave S, Minneapolis

- At 7 p.m. on Tue is “An Evening of Heart Songs” at Breck School, 123 Ottawa Avenue, Golden Valley. Come together with others and experience the beauty of sound and silence with the voices God gave us as a community. For all ages and abilities, from the listener to the hummer and improviser, Ana will invite us to feel the healing power of song.
I know the events will be wonderful connecting our voices to our hearts. Whether one is a “non-singer,” chorister, seasoned vocalist, or congregational singer, each will discover one’s body as a sounding board for the Word and vessel for the movement of the Holy Spirit.

These events are free and open to the public, so bring your choir, your congregation, your friends and family, singer or not, Episcopal, Lutheran or other. More information is at http://episcopalspirit.com.

See you at these events!

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