Recently, I had the opportunity to sit and reflect for a while (now that things are slowing down after Easter Sunday), and as I frequently do, I began to grapple with what it is that makes great art in any medium. So often those on "the inside" of an artistic field chalk greatness up to the history of a work. Certainly it is a role of the artist to preserve the works of others, and in an historical context, old or ancient art works are of inestimable value. However, is this really what makes something great? I started to wonder if great art is great not so much due to what it preserves as because of what it provokes. Try as we might, we'll never know for sure what was in the mind of the artist when creating a piece, but we certainly know how it affects us-this applies to comfortable and uncomfortable art equally and does explain how art can be uplifting, depressing, and everything in between! While preservation is essential, provocation is where "the rubber meets the road" for me. What does an artwork cause you to feel? All mysticism aside, that is the most knowable and concrete message of a piece. This applies directly to our Cathedral Music Ministry.
Here at Christ Church Cathedral, we have created a dizzying amount of musical art this year with the intent to elicit a reaction. From Advent Lessons and Carols through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, and Easter, our musicians have created music for nearly every mood in both service and concert. Some treasured choir members have moved away while new faces have been a joy to us amidst the farewell. We have worked together on Wednesdays and Sundays almost every week of the program year, and I am personally grateful to every member of our team. Special thanks go to our Choir Director, my wife, Katherine Powell. Her dedication to instructing and conducting our choir continues to be a foundational element of our music program.
Special thanks also to Stephanie Hopper for keeping us organized and neat this year as our Music Librarian-the importance of her help is hard to overestimate! Our staff singers have continued to travel from as far as Pascagoula to the west and Pensacola and Milton to the east and right here in Mobile to be a part of our ministry, and we thank them. In a very real sense, our program couldn't continue with any resemblance of its current quality without their unwavering support and leadership. Our staff violinist, Gosia Leska, has been a joy to work with, and I am thankful to have her with us.
The Handbell Choir has grown this year and continues to ring praises throughout the program year. They work hard to enrich our worship with joyful sounds!
I'm grateful to the clergy and staff of this church for their support, leadership, and partnership in ministry. Christ Church is unusual in its quality of music and the interest of the congregation in this. Our historic commitment to excellence can't exist without the understanding and support of the congregation, clergy, and staff. Beautiful church music can lift our souls to God and ennoble our liturgy, and it is a joy to serve as Music Director and Organist here.
I also wish to thank all who contributed to our Friends of Cathedral Music and Cathedral Organ Fund this year. Our ministry could not function without your support. Your gifts of financial support and time are much appreciated and a vital part of our music program! Thank you for your generosity and your gift of music to our congregation and the city.
I would be remiss not to thank our guest musicians who participated in our concert series and special services. Their contribution to our liturgies and concerts was wonderful-we had a great year. We hope to see them return soon.
In closing, I think our music here at Christ Church Cathedral does have intrinsic historical value (due in no small part to its nearly 200-year lineage), but the most important part of our ministry is the people who create it, support it, and hear it. Great art is our goal, and it is intended to elicit a response in the performer and listener alike. Even a simple hymn sung by a choir and congregation can be one of the most powerful experiences in sacred music, provoking a response of the soul. I can't wait to continue our musical journey together.