Friday, December 14, 2007

Psalmist Skills Shortage

(and yes, alliteration is awesome :) )

My routine this week has been wake up at sunrise, go to church, chant at the Greek-language Matins and Divine Liturgy under the head chanter of the main Greek Orthodox church in the city, then go away and do whatever.

Today didn't quite go to the same plan - yesterday, at around 2, I just finished reading a section of a liturgical theology textbook (Wybrew, if you're interested) and rolled over to get some sleep. So, 11 hours later, I woke up. Tried to get back to sleep, but that didn't work, so I watched a movie (Austin Powers 1) and then went to church, and found out that the head chanter had basically lost his voice. He'd already called another chanter who doesn't usually come to weekday services, and between us we got by.

It does suggest exactly how critical it is for a parish to have more than one chanter. In Brisbane, there are five Byzantine-typicon (as opposed to Slavonic-typicon) parishes - three Greek, one Antiochian and one Romanian. Granted, the latter two don't have weekday services, but the three Greek parishes do - one doesn't have full chanters (not sure if they have weekday services?), one has two full chanters, but only one on weekdays; and the central one has, well, probably about three that could be considered full chanters*.

(* - by full chanters, I mean 'can do matins on any given day by themselves')

Now, that wouldn't be so bad if there was an effective training program, but there isn't - there's a single teacher, who knows his stuff (and backwards), but no one's coming through 'the ranks' (whatever they are) anywhere near fast enough to pick up if one of those chanters falls off the perch (mixed metaphor intended) - there's probably about three that may be able to do it at a pinch, and two of those are not going to be staying at the Greek parishes where they might be needed (and probably won't be staying chanters for ever, either).

In short, we have what can only be called a skills shortage, and something's going to have to give...

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