A David Question: When it's not just a Mass but a gig

A David Question: When it's not just a Mass but a gig

Postby inthegobi » Thu Jan 12, 2017 10:26 pm

The church organist was contracted to play a funeral Mass by the family of the deceased. She then contacted me to be the cantor. Both of us were to be paid by the family. Some servers were also paid.

There were numerous reasons to be nervous, such as rather sketchy details, but nothing fatal. Uh, I mean serious. A small gathering, we did things straight with no chasers: just the liturgy, no 'anthems' or other solo work. I sang the *in Paradisum*. (The keyboardist is often tapped by a man who loves to turn even funerals into concerts: *four* solos sometimes!)

In the middle of the dozen things to put together, the priest asks me if i'd like to have a volunteer. The Very Helpful Volunteer is a good singer, but she's another decision to make with twenty minutes to spare. I consent. There was not much to split up, and I had no better idea than to have us mostly sing together. But never mind the musical issues.

Later I realize i made a professional mistake. The keyboardist, who has far more experience than us all, was upset that someone should horn in (my term) on a paid gig. I certainly was upset too, but solely for having an extra ball to suddenly juggle.

A couple questions:

Should I have said Yes at all?

I certainly should have asked the keyboardist, but more than that:

Should I have passed the decision on to the keyboardist, who after all picked me, not the other way?
Or is the cantor in charge in the music loft, so to speak?

C Kirk
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Re: A David Question: When it's not just a Mass but a gig

Postby lasaxman » Thu Jan 12, 2017 11:08 pm

Some thorny questions there.

I would tend to say that, since the keyboardist was the first hired, he or she is the de facto "band leader" and should make the decision on whether to accept the volunteer. Of course, the priest is the real boss, so if he is insistent on inserting the volunteer, he has the final say.

Did the volunteer singer have some relation to the family or to the priest?
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Re: A David Question: When it's not just a Mass but a gig

Postby inthegobi » Fri Jan 13, 2017 12:42 pm

lasaxman wrote:Some thorny questions there.

I would tend to say that, since the keyboardist was the first hired, he or she is the de facto "band leader" and should make the decision on whether to accept the volunteer. Of course, the priest is the real boss, so if he is insistent on inserting the volunteer, he has the final say.

Did the volunteer singer have some relation to the family or to the priest?


David, thanks much.

The singer has no formal training (like the organist), nor has she been at it long (as I have). She is though very close to the priest and music director: all are from the same parish, and work for our parish. She gets tapped a lot for non-choral masses at my parish. (I happen to feel pushed out and ignored, so take this all with a huge grain of salt.) The singer is doubtless used so much because she is a known quantity. *Probably* she was sent (suddenly, there she is at a small funeral, in a parish across town).

The organist is a very shy person in church; and she is not Catholic. She often defers to me when we work together even when I am not the leader. (I am not nearly so shy, either.) I would appreciate pointers how to change that; she is doubtless one of the best keyboardists in town, and runs a full slate of piano students. She is nobody's fool. There is a lot of personal grief in her life, too, that a little more respect at church would be nothing but good. I have sent a letter or two when the casual dismissal gets too much. The singer, not the organist, substituted for the director when she was out on maternity; she cancelled a rehearsal on a whim, not realizing the organist is paid per rehearsal. Things like that.

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