Cantata to be presented in Springfield

RELIGIOUS HISTORY AND MUSICAL ART AT SAINT ROSE, HOLY ROSARY –

Concert planned at parishes near Springfield, Ky., this weekend
— March 10 and 11 — to feature Teresa Tedder’s ‘The Eternal Maternal’

By FATHER BEN BROWN
Special to The Record

“Compare and contrast” is a phrase which often provokes groans from students in high schools and colleges. However, a trio of local musicians, educators, and pastors have lately been doing a lot of just that, comparing and contrasting, in preparation for an historic re-dedication and an artistic spiritual presentation.

Professor Teresa Tedder, conductor and composer for the Mid-Kentucky Chorus at St. Catharine College and musician-in-residence at the college, has been meeting with Fathers Kevin McGrath and Ben Brown of St. Rose and Holy Rosary churches near Springfield, Ky. They have been engaging the “compare/contrast” dynamic, and feel that the result will be a wonderful spiritual and artistic experience for the general public in their two local churches.

They see this as especially appropriate for the current Lenten season, when the faithful of all Christian denominations reflect on the humanity of Jesus in the final weeks of his life on earth.

Six years ago, Tedder composed a dramatic cantata for two female voices with piano, flute, harp and cello accompaniment, based on the life and words of Mary of Nazareth, Mother of Jesus, as found in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Performed in just under one hour, the piece is entitled Mary, the Eternal Maternal. After the debut, which took place in Louisville’s Cathedral of the Assumption on May 21 in 2006, professor Tedder, whose late father was an ordained Protestant pastor in central Kentucky, told an interviewer: “Although devotion to the Blessed Mother was not a part of my early spiritual tradition, I do identify with her maternal role through my own children and grand-children.”

Mary, the Eternal Maternal, through its music and poetry, strives to show how we all, regardless of gender or religious faith, experience the grace and love of the Divine in our daily lives,” she said.

This very moving musical experience has been presented on five other occasions, including once in the chapel of the Dominican Sisters of Peace at St. Catharine, but not in any local parish sanctuaries.

That will change when the music is presented at Holy Rosary on March 10 at 8 p.m., and at St. Rose on March 11 at 3 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public; there will be an opportunity for a free will offering, and donations in advance of the performance would be most welcome.

The sanctuary at St. Rose dates from 1806. Father McGrath points out that, “the space has been the location for prayer and worship, not only for generations of the faithful, but also for a great number of Dominican priests and brothers who have trained at St. Rose and gone on to serve as educators and religious leaders throughout the country, including the late Archbishop of Louisville Thomas C. Kelly.”

After some needed repair to the sub-flooring and other improvements, this beautiful space was re-dedicated on Feb. 25 by Archbishop Kelly’s successor, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz.

With his own keen interest in this local history, Father Brown has been instructed by members of Holy Rosary, about the historic ties between the two parishes. Deacon Ernest “Gus” Cooper advised him that the Dominicans of St. Rose purchased land and established Holy Rosary in 1929 and served the parish into the 1990s. He also indicated that many members of Holy Rosary were employees of St. Rose in the days when they maintained a farming operation. Deacon Cooper says, “Folks here are a special part of the history of St. Rose. Many of us remember Father Leo Bernard, who pastored Holy Rosary for our first thirty-five years. We congratulate St. Rose on this historic re-dedication of their sanctuary.”

This Season of Lent, with its prescribed Scripture readings and dramatic preaching in the settings of weekly worship and retreat/mission programs, calls for a good bit of intellectual energy. However, it should not be solely a “head trip.”

Our souls respond also in a healthy emotional way, and the aesthetic/artistic experience is a major portion of a wholistic approach to spiritual growth. This musical presentation affords a great opportunity for a full experience of Lenten grace.”

So, the “comparing and contrasting” continues. The compositional work of one mother about another mother, will be promoted by two single men who answer to the title “father.”

A six-year-old musical creation will be performed in two sanctuaries, which are together nearly three-hundred-years old. An aesthetic experience will be offered in the midst of a schedule of intellectual endeavors.

Finally, the “many” of these Christian communities, will come together anew in a moment of modern time, to embrace the ancient story of the “one,” whose birth, life, death and resurrection bring unspeakable joy to “all” for all time.

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