From the Podium: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

If ever there was a semester of great thanksgiving, this would be the one! A new recording was finished in January ­ the seventh of the Folk Choir ­ entitled Witness of the Saints. Watch for its release in June! But with this has come the tremendous blessing of an outstanding year of choral singing, remarkable student leadership, a committed and vigorous Senior class, encouraging auditions for next year, and an engaging Midwestern/Great Lakes area tour this spring.

For some of you alums who were involved in the Folk Choir in the early years, you’ll get a smirk over this latest statistic: this year there are twenty-three graduating seniors in the ranks of the choir! (That’s more than were in the yearly ensembles throughout much of the 1980’s).

Part of this has been due to the flourishing of overseas programs at Notre Dame… now more than 30 per cent of the student body studies abroad at some point in their time at the University. And this means that choir members are constantly coming and going!

If you’re an alum with an incurable itch to sing with your fellow folkheads once more, stay in touch with us through e-mail! Every so often we are now being asked to sing at diocesan and archdiocesan functions throughout the United States. And recently, this means a potential invitation to alums only, given the demands of the student schedule at Notre Dame. Se please keep in touch! We can only ask you along if we know where to reach you!

Our newest recording, Witness of the Saints, utilizes a familiar concept found on previous collections: a strong, thematic focus to the new repertoire. Each piece is based upon a prayer or poem by a saint of the Church. Some of you may recognize Make of Our Hands A Throne, but there are many new pieces on this collection as well, including a bilingual setting of the Prayer of Saint Francis and ¡Escucha! Put It in Your Heart, on which you’ll find some amazing solo guitar work by fellow composer Jaime Cortez of Phoenix, Arizona.

Next year will also be a unique and extraordinary year for the ensemble. We travel to Ireland again (our seventh full-choir trip); this time, though, we will make our journey during fall break. We hope to decrease our travel expenditures by going in the off-season; as well, it’s a chance to work directly with our college student friends, both at Notre Dame’s Keough Centre in Dublin and with Trinity and University College, Dublin.

2004 will also bring the Folk Choir back to Notre Dame at a time when they typically tour the country. In May, ND will host a gathering of Campus Ministers from around the United States, and we’ve been asked to be the “resident choir” for this gathering. Of course, a concert will be part of the week as well.

Many thanks to all of you who’ve been keeping in touch, either by passing along your web/e-mail information (with a reunion coming up in 2005, this networking is very important for us!) or letting us know how to locate former members of the ensemble.

Come back when you can, let us know ahead of time, sing with us during rehearsal… and keep finding the voice within you. For it is the voice of God on your lips, the message we so desperately need in a time of great strife.

With every good wish to all of you,

Steve Warner