Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Music at the Monastery

submitted by S. Dolores Super

We have a new exhibit opening March 27 at the Haehn Museum: Resounding Joy: Our Music Heritage. It tells the story of our music ministry, which has touched many more people than we can imagine.

Our first prioress, Willibalda Scherbauer, OSB, was an accomplished musician. We know this not from a recording but from personal copies of piano compositions she used, copies full of pencil markings and worn edges. The degree of difficulty indicates none are for the “faint-hearted.”

Music—teaching, performing, directing, creating, publishing, sharing, enjoying—are all aspects of our music heritage which come alive in this exhibit. It’s like seeing the whole of it all at once. I am so proud to stand as a musician among these many talented Sister musicians.

The income from individual music lessons given week after week to 50 or more students was a major resource for our community in normal times and in hard times. Imagine this—in 1948 we had 76 musicians in 66 locations! I stood at the map of Minnesota and wondered at all the towns and cities where our Sister musicians served. And that’s not even counting neighboring states like Wisconsin and North Dakota. In fact, if you saw our exhibit last year, you know we taught music as far away as Kaifeng, China. The Minnesota map made real a recent comment: “It is no secret that you Benedictine women shaped the cultural life of many in Central Minnesota.”

And then there is our community’s dedicated work in liturgical music. From our own daily liturgies, this ministry reaches the people of God world-wide. You will want to learn the stories of our chant tradition exemplified by the Gertken Sisters to the compositions and hymn texts of current musicians like Delores Dufner, OSB, and Christine Manderfield, OSB.

As a Sister, if you had any musical ability, it was best not to let that be known because you would find yourself directing the children’s choir or playing the organ in church. This is how someone put it: “Sister taught second grade, was local superior, was sacristan, and she played the organ in church.” Examples of this are Sister Leora Juettner and Sister Agatha Zwilling.

Come see the instruments, including a rare piano harp thought to be only one of fifteen in existence. At a listening station, you can hear music and view Sister musicians of the past and present.

Did you study music with one of our Sisters? If so, let us know about your experience below! If you have a good story about music with the Sisters you'd like to share for possible inclusion in the next Benedictine Sisters and Friends magazine, send it to ssink@csbsju.edu.

No comments:

Post a Comment