Improvisation and the Passion

One usually associates improvisation with jazz. But chant also holds the potential for improvisation, as the choir of Trinity Church (Episcopal) Wall Street, in New York, showed this past weekend.Their singing of the Passionaccording to Mark (see below)deserves to be widely heard. I know I was drawn into the meaning of the story deeply through their singing of it. The papers the singers are holding contain words only. The music is improvised. Even the choral parts are improvised. The singers'diction is exemplary. The emotional tone of each episode is right on target, without ever becoming exaggerated or false. And they did thisafter one rehearsal. Wow.

Rita Ferrone is the author of several books about liturgy, including Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium (Paulist Press). She is a contributing writer to Commonweal.

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