What is a Concentor? Well, it comes from the Latin “concentio” which has a number of meanings, including “music”, “harmony” and “singing together”.
So how does that fit into the life of the monastic community? There are a number of roles that I fill as the Concentor in a monastic community. First and foremost is being a full member of the community, and helping to lead it prayer life through music. This encompasses a few different roles. The first being that I help to lead the sung parts of the offices i.e. the hymns etc. at Lauds, Sext, Vespers and Compline. But as well as leading the hymns, I take on the role of finding hymns for the day, that are appropriate within the liturgical calendar.
Secondly, I contribute to the musical life of the wider parish, which often involved working within a team of musicians. Primarily, this involves being a member of the Choir in St Mary’s Priory Church. This links back into leading worship through music, as it is regularly my job to sing the Preces at evensong. The musical life of the Concentor isn’t all traditional however. In All Age Worship, working with Deacon Sarah and Sr Jennii, we have started doing modern christian rock music on a regular basis.
Thirdly, it provides time for me to develop as a musician, which is based largely on providing time for to practice singing, as well as attend two singing lessons a week. However, it can equally provide time for refining compositional skills or to practice conducting. It has even provided time for me to do some academic reading (a novelty for me) in order to prepare for my dissertation.
Today marks two months since I was commissioned into the community, and a lot has happened in that time. I’ve developed a lot as a musician but there’s more to it than that. I’ve been learning how to appropriately choose music for offices which is liturgically correct. But I’ve also developed spiritually as well as musically. The support in and around the community is truly incredible, and I feel blessed to be in such a supportive environment, where I have been given the chance to grow musically and spiritually.