Last week, I had the privilege of co-teaching a chant seminar in Barga, Italy. Though thrilled to be involved, I felt some concern that the entire seminar would have to be taught almost entirely through a translator because I do not speak Italian! However, almost instantly upon my arrival, those concerns dissipated.
Our translator had taken it upon herself to study Gregorian chant! She had obtained a marvelous volume of music history that gave many details surrounding chant providing her additional vocabulary for the seminars. She loved it! Our preparatory meetings went quite smoothly largely because she had quietly taken this generous approach.
Likewise, there was an extensive range of abilities and knowledge among the participants who attended the seminars and the mass which we chanted on Sunday morning. Most of them spoke very little English. However, once again, there was such a level of enthusiasm and willingness to try everything that we offered, communication happened in ways that transcended spoken language.
Everyone’s attitude and willingness had a powerful effect on the success of the seminars. It was an extraordinary opportunity to experience this mutual love for chant in an international circumstance where the main language used was “a willing spirit.”