2018 Concert for the Missions


As I begin my second year with the Folk Choir, I am filled with gratitude for the great honor of being the director of this choir. I am grateful for the students in this choir who have welcomed me so warmly. I am grateful to our hosts on the Texas Tour in May-June 2018, whose spirit of hospitality and welcome imparted on me just how great the history and potential of the Folk Choir really are. I am grateful to our alumni and supporters, who have offered their thoughts and prayers for us throughout the year, and gave so generously to our ND Day campaign for our pilgrimage to East Africa in May 2019.

This past year has filled me with hope for the future of the Folk Choir at Notre Dame and beyond. As we press on into the 2018-19 academic year, I wanted to tell you a little bit about our plans for the 25th Annual Concert of the Missions on November 9th, 2018, at 8pm. The choir is working closely with the Holy Cross Mission Center on a two-year project to understand and embody the charisms of the missions in East Africa. This year’s concert will be a presentation entitled "Catch the Spirit", where we will explore, learn, and perform African American sacred music, including jazz, gospel, and spirituals.

With this concert, we aim to encounter "the neighbor" in our midst by embodying and authentically encountering these traditions of music that arose through the struggles of African American people during the last several hundred years. We aim to understand and incorporate into our own lives of faith these traditions, which offer some of the most authentic expressions of the Gospel that have arisen out of the American experience. This music is filled with such joy, hope, and passion, and yet, we miss the whole point - we miss Jesus’s invitation in the Gospel - if we lose sight of American slavery and oppression as it’s context. This music flourished despite the pain and suffering of one of the worst instances of systematized oppression in the modern world.

The stakes are high, as this history deserves our sincerest and most earnest efforts to truly embody the spirit and style of the music. We will do this through careful study, but also by inviting expert guides in each of the styles to walk with us as we learn and perform the music. Ultimately, we will be joined at the concert by master musicians in each of these styles. The majority of musicians that we invite, as well as the majority of composers whose music we will perform will be African American.

This experience is a primer for our pilgrimage to East Africa, training us for the eventual challenge of encountering “the neighbor” outside of the comfort of our home. Our hope is that through an authentic encounter with not only the musical traditions, but also to be accompanied on our journey by musicians who have embodied the deepest parts of these traditions, that we will be able to transform our conceptions of who God can be in our midst.

Please keep in touch and keep us in your prayers!