Preserving your choir's history - What do you do?
  • mjballoumjballou
    Posts: 992
    Dear Forum members,

    For an upcoming article in Sacred Music, I am interested in learning about what steps, if any, you are taking to create a documentary record of your choir or schola. Please drop me an email if you'd like to contribute. My questions will not be onerous. And of course, your confidences will be safe with me. If you're going to be at the Chant Intensive, we can take a few moments from the exhausting schedule to meet.

    I am also interested in what you found when you came into your position. Was anything there or had the musical slate been "wiped clean," so to speak?

    And if you're not doing anything about this aspect of your work, I hope this article will help.
  • Carl DCarl D
    Posts: 992
    Before I came on board, the only record we had was ... well, a recording. A CD that we'd created as a fundraiser, which included all the various musical groups in the parish.

    Since then, I've been keeping a lot of information on our website, but for internal purposes. I have all the music, translations, and practice recordings for everything we do, and I occasionally record a Mass and share that with the schola to the degree that disc space allows.

    For my own purposes, I have the record of every song we've ever sung, and when. This helps me in my planning efforts, since I'm such a newbie to all this. I also have a record of every email back to the dawn of time, and I occasionally look through that for some discussion we had a while back.
  • Chris
    Posts: 80
    I'll be at the Colloquium and will be happy to chat with you about it, MJ. At St. Mary's, we have a Choir Librarian/Historian who does quite a bit to document our history, etc.

    Looking forward to meeting you. :-)
  • G
    Posts: 1,396
    This is of great interest to me.
    I thought about this last year, and tried to get it off the ground, but as I am new to the area and parish, I was utterly dependant on others, and received so much contradictory information I shelved the project.
    We have a choir member of 47 years standing, who is a font of anecdotal information but also has... how to put it?... axes to grind, which sometimes color the facts.
    And we are generally a feisty, contentious group -- people have come and gone over grudges, liaisons, etc.
    And in the recent past before my arrival there was one choir mistress who had three different tenures, (can you say "personality conflicts"?) three with the same first name; and what seems to have been a period of the choir getting too big for its britches when its identity was deliberately quashed for a while.
    The history of the parishes music ministry is written, in a way, in the file cabinets and shelves of the choir room, but my archaeological digs have only begun to scratch the surface, and it would be a full time job ever to really sort them out, (a "clean slate" would have been MUCH easier!)
    I literally came across a box last week containing purple mimeos from the '60s of "Protestant" hymns, some plastic covered Gory and Praise, some Schirmer octavos that judging from the price (6 cents a copy,) are from the teens or '20s, a very old book of chant with notations written in some Slavic language, a bunch of disposable missalettes for Holy Week from the early '70s.... and a set of bongos. (And I'm organizationally impaired, oh, heck, I'm a slob, so it might be worse when I leave...)
    There have been several semi-official histories of the Catholic community, a book, a DVD, the liner notes for a concert recording, but those seem to contradict each other.
    I am trying to keep records at least of our repertoire and membership and little quirks of Well-everyone-knows-that's-the-way-we've-ALWAYS-done-it, the kind of thing that would have helped me immensely when I came on board, (that no one told me,) to hand on to the next person.
    (Save the Liturgy, Save the World)