One of my long-time friends recently called me and asked, simply, “Are you crazy?” He was responding to the news that I was considering starting a rather ambitious new performance project at a time when community support for such ventures is already stretched thin, and at an age when most of my contemporaries are settling into their retirements.
Valid question! And the short answer is that I can’t help it!
The longer version is that music, and the arts in general, have been central to my life for as long as I can remember – particularly sacred music. My family, my education, my work experience, have all guided me almost inevitably to a life focused on the “sacred” as expressed through the arts.
My education and work experience have ranged over a wide variety of teaching, administrative, financial, and service industry jobs – as is typical for most struggling musicians. But my greatest joys and accomplishments have come through creating musical programs that touch audiences and performers alike. (Admittedly, those successes were sometimes seasoned by experiments that were less successful!)
Why now? Also a good question!
As I look at what is happening in the world, in our country, and in our own community, I sense a growing need for the restatement and clarification of basic human values. There is too much division, pain, incivility – too little regard for the value of each individual, of compassion, of beauty. Perhaps taking a beat to look at what is truly sacred to us can be a small step toward realizing the potential of humanity.
Musica Sacra hopes to be a complement to the many fine performing groups that already serve Milwaukee, by creating opportunities that expand the possibilities for audiences and performers alike. Operating as both producer and presenter, the project intends to gather a flexible “collective” of performers and other professionals to create programming that will demonstrate intersections with art, literature, drama, dance, history, film, etc.
In addition to presenting music of many genres and periods that are traditionally considered “sacred,” over time the programs will endeavor to explore world religions and cultures, along with a broad range of human concerns, reflecting an expanded interpretation of the meaning of “sacred.”
A key and defining element in this aspirational project is the enthusiastic endorsement and support of the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist, in downtown Milwaukee. Collaboration with this magnificent facility provides an ideal setting in which to venture Beyond Belief – Exploring the role of the sacred in the rich diversity of human experience, through word, image, and music.
I obviously have great enthusiasm for the possibilities of this project. I also recognize that the answers to three questions will determine its direction and further development: Will the concept attract performers with the necessary qualifications and dedication? Will the programming intrigue the diverse and sizable audience base required for its success? Will the concept and programming excite the imaginations of funding sources sufficient to ensure its future viability?
Time will tell. And the involvement of individuals like you will be the key. I invite you to stay in touch with Musica Sacra through the opportunities listed elsewhere on this website to participate as a performer, audience member, and supporter.