Musicians and music ministries connect online

Monday 11 May 2020

Communications Office 
With musicians of the Catholic community no longer ministering in a traditional capacity, many have taken their ministries online, while actively engaging with each other and their own communities.

‘Many music ministers I know are in what is called the gig economy,’ says performer and composer Gen Bryant who, as well as sharing her music ministry with the country, offers her time to local parish, St John the Evangelist in Mitcham.

‘This means there’s been a loss of income from cancelled events and conferences – not just within the Church – and it’s affecting musicians and all those involved in the events industry everywhere,’ she says.
Given this reality, many local musicians from the Catholic community are banding together to boosting morale and outreach.
‘There have been so many initiatives in music ministries at this time,’ says Alyssa Agius who is involved in music ministry at St Clare’s in Thomastown West, while also a part of singer-songwriter duo The SAGA with Georga Byrne, as well as running a music enterprise UN-LIMITED which she manages with her husband Daniel.

‘During isolation, we have been able to connect with our listeners and fellow creatives online through social media and platforms like Zoom,’ Alyssa says.
One way of connecting, says singer-songwriter and member of The SAGA Georga Byrne, is performing cover songs and sharing them online among songwriters and youth ministry.
‘Particularly inspiring was when Melbourne-based songwriter Josh Angrisano started a faith community Zoom meeting once a week, where others involved in youth ministry pray together and share ideas around releasing music.’

‘As The SAGA, we have released our new song "If I Told Ya" as well as some online covers,’ says Georga, adding that they also sang as part of Fr Rob Galea’s masses online.
‘We have been focusing on sharing positive messages through our music and encouraging other creatives to continue using their gifts to spread joy,’ adds Alyssa.
Gen Bryant has also been working to spread that joy by creating resources for the faith community.
‘I am excited to share that I have been creating a weekly online resource called Seeking Stillness,’ she says. Her video series is reflective with original music she composes, records and produces each week. ‘Seeking Stillness is based on the weekly Sunday Gospel, designed to create an opportunity for a moment of stillness and reflection in this new online world that we find ourselves in.’ 

Gen also mentions that she has been taking part in a number of youth ministry events, both pre-recorded and live via video which include prayer, music and keynote talks. ‘This is an exciting adventure and I have been spending the last few weeks upgrading my home studio in order to produce high quality content for schools, parishes and other groups.’
Gen is also active in music ministry at St John’s Mitcham. She provides audio-recording services and vocals with parish choir members on a rotational roster for online Mass, uploaded each Saturday afternoon.
‘We also have many vulnerable members, so I am also facilitating weekly live, private virtual choir rehearsals each Tuesday evening allowing us to all check in, sing and pray together.’
Other parishes have made similar efforts.
Those in the music ministry at St Anthony’s in Glen Huntly have also been active online, keeping regularly connected for prayer as much as performance. The members of the music ministry, says Parish Music Coordinator Veronica Blair, have been using video conferencing for weekly prayer and had been doing so long before the pandemic.
‘We are a multinational group (in the music ministry) and our age range is very wide, from international students to grandparents,’ says Veronica. ‘We use Zoom now and have refined the process so that the prayer is reflective,’ she says.
‘Afterwards is another story. We all share the ups and downs of our week and there’s lots of noise.’
The music ministry at St Andrew’s finds this time valuable as they support each other and ‘are united in the love and care of the community and the Holy Spirit.’ They all agree that the weekly video calls are a great way to check-in to see if everyone is okay, Veronica says. ‘We laugh and joke together as we always have and this interaction is very helpful.’
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