April 16, 2010 Labyrinth as Sanctuary, Choral Sounds to Welcome Spring

An ensemble of voices, female voices provided the musical setting for this months “Labyrinth as Sanctuary”. Bruce Nicol, a friend, supporter and fan of the labyrinth pulled together the repertoire and a group of singers through his local musical connections and a dozen women came out to sing. It was a “tour de force” on the musical front, especially in the acoustically responsive space of Cathedral Hall. To date we have worked with one and two musicians, so this was quite different. For quiet some time I have wanted to have a labyrinth walk accompanied by simple a cappella, (in the style of the chapel),  plainsong and this evenings musical setting was like a dream come true. There were a few moments where I could imagine myself in the ancient stone churches of Europe, surrounded by the echoing chants of the monks and nuns.

This month there were quiet a few new people who came to walking the labyrinth for the first time. We advertised on the local arts list-serve and as a result several artist friends heard about our activities and came out. Their response was very gratifying. There are days when we wonder why we do this. It was affirming to hear from participants that they really appreciate our efforts.

Someone asked if what we were doing was performance art and I would have to say no, it’s not. Vanessa and I are certainly bringing our artistic sensibilities to the setting of the labyrinth but, it is not a performance. What we are doing is creating a safe and beautiful container for participants to be able to come and have their own experience. The focus is definitely on the participants. In fact we tell the musicians who come to play and sing for the labyrinth that this is not a performance in the way they are used to. There are no spot lights. Instead the musicians enter into a kind of relationship with the participants, supporting and sustaining their experience. We hope that this invitation allows the musicians a degree of freedom to work very intuitively and responsively.

It’s all a grand experiment, and we are finding there are more than a few right answers.

We had a visit from Lucy Martin, a freelance radio producer from North County Radio. To hear her report on the “Labyrinth as Sanctuary” click on the link http://www.northcountrypublicradio.org/news/story/15581/inner-journeys-labyrinths

Next month we have two labyrinth walks, one on Friday May 14th and the other on Friday May 28th. Both walks will be accompanied by crystal singing bowls and chant or toning. That will be something new and different for us!

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