Why can’t orchestra play at St. Jude’s Cathedral?
"It's easy to find many a concert or musical event taking place at a local church"
It was with surprise and disappointment that I read the National Arts Centre Orchestra will be not be performing next month at our new St. Jude’s Cathedral, but at a local school gymnasium.
This after knowing that the — orchestra hoped — and negotiated - to play its first-ever performance in Nunavut at the cathedral. Unfortunately, Iqaluit remains the only capital in Canada without a dedicated performance space — we have to make do with what facilities exist.
As a former student of music, and a professional musician and sound engineer, I cannot count the number of concerts I have participated in and attended over the years that were held in churches across Canada.
Only a small fraction of these concerts featured exclusively religious music and many of them featured no religious music at all. I mention this to demonstrate the church’s community role as a public place to celebrate the performing arts — music in particular, for which a church’s acoustics and layout are naturally so well-suited.
Open any city newspaper in Canada and it’s easy to find many a concert or musical event taking place at a local church. There is further irony here: the history of orchestras traces back centuries to ensembles organized for church services, and the orchestral repertoire is therfore rich in wonderful liturgical music.
It must also be noted that the orchestra would rent the space, bringing much needed revenue not to mention some national publicity to the church.
I believe the local church community is missing a fantastic opportunity to begin a broader relationship with the greater community that goes beyond religion.
Churches across the globe have always been places to perform and celebrate music, welcoming all people — regardless of religion — through their doors. This in no way diminishes the church’s role as a house of worship, and could arguably interest more people in attending its services.
Hosting Nunavut’s first ever visit by a national symphony orchestra would have been such a wonderful way for St. Judes to show us that it really is open and ready to be a full part of the community, and by extension the national fabric.
I sincerely hope that in the future the church will reconsider, and recognize the value of opening its doors to music.
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