Music performance allows contemplation on sex abuse crisis

National Catholic Reporter

February 1, 2020

Composer starts with Margaret Gallant’s 1982 letter

In 1982, Margaret Gallant wrote a four-page letter to the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros of Boston, professing her love for the Catholic Church, and expressing her anger for its failure to protect seven boys in her family who were abused by a priest. The letter laid bare the church’s efforts to systematically cover up clerical sex abuse and later became an important document in the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” investigation into sexual abuse cover up.

Years later, Gallant’s letter takes center stage once again in composer Craig Shepard’s, “Broken Silence.” A musical contemplation, “Broken Silence” is is about 80 minutes long, intended to combine words and music for listeners on the subjects of abuse and corruption.

The Jan. 8 performance at the DiMenna Center for Classical Music in New York begins with silence. Musicians sit in a circle at the center of the theatre, surrounded by the audience. Before beginning the performance, Shepard carefully scans the room, gauging his audience and making eye contact with them. He then starts reading Gallant’s letter, which is set to the music of steel string acoustic guitar and saxophone. The performance is peppered with meditative pauses. Audience members seem to slip into a meditative mood.

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