ESCANABA - The second Catholic Diocese of Marquette Sacred Music Conference has been set for Friday and Saturday, July 12-13, at St. Joseph and St. Patrick Parish in Escanaba. The conference, which is being provided free of charge, will further the implementation of Archbishop Alexander Sample's vision of sacred music in liturgy, guided by his 2013 pastoral letter, "Rejoice in the Lord Always."
The former bishop of Marquette issued the pastoral letter before he was transferred to the Archdiocese of Portland in Oregon. His vision was instrumental in the development of the diocesan Office of Sacred Music.
The conference is designed for priests, deacons, seminarians, directors of music, organists, cantors, choir members, and singers of all ages, especially those responsible for sacred music in the Catholic parishes and missions throughout the Upper Peninsula. Nathan Knutson, director of sacred music for the Diocese of Marquette, will lead the conference. He has a master's degree in music from internationally-acclaimed Cleveland Institute of Music, was a music professor at Minnesota State University-Mankato and was the winner of the National Federation of Music Clubs' 2007 Young Artist piano competition.
Although he is highly-trained, he understands the needs of struggling parishes and is well equipped to address the diverse situations across the diocese. "I grew up in a small parish with limited resources," stated Knutson.
This year's conference will study many musical areas, including Gregorian chant, organ and choral music. Sessions on the organ also apply to the piano, so they will be helpful to all parishes. Primacy of voice will be emphasized with multiple sessions on Gregorian chant, as well as forming and rehearsing with a schola. Schola, which means school, is similar to a choir but also teaches members how to sing. "You can form a schola with as many as 10 to 20 or it can be one," stated Knutson. Several of the sessions will offer multiple tracks to benefit people with varied musical experience. Sacred music resources will also be discussed.
Registration forms for the sacred music conference are available online and from most parish music directors. The conference will include lunch and dinner on Friday and breakfast on Saturday. Lodging in Escanaba is recommended for Friday evening, July 12.