By Gail Finke
Thousands of community musicians from around the world will be in Cincinnati this July, so don’t be surprised if you hear them singing in the streets.
The National Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Convention will be held July 10-14 at the Cincinnati Convention Center, but it’s just part of the anticipated happy noise. The Archdiocese has postponed its annual teenage summer music festival to the same week, and the NPM National Handbell Festival will open convention week with three-day events for handbells and “choirs”.
Some of the country’s leading experts in liturgical music will speak at the convention, said Karen Kane, director of the Archdiocese’s Office of Worship and Sacraments and one of the organizers of the event. Well-known composers will also speak and lead sessions.
Speakers include Msgr. Rick Hilgarnter, former Executive Director of the United States Catholic Bishops Conference Secretariat for Worship and outgoing President of the NPM; Composers Bob Hurd and Roger Holland; and Tim O’Malley, director of the Notre Dame Center for Liturgy.
Sessions will focus on singing, polyphony and contemporary music; “Praise and Worship” music; Antiphons and other parts of the mass; theological issues; practical issues such as singing in bilingual congregations; and more. Washington, DC Priest Mgr. Ray East will lead a series of workshops on the late Father Clarence Rivers, the first African American priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and a noted composer of mass music.
Other events include master classes and clinics, institutes for liturgical theology and choir conducting over several days, half-day retreats, morning prayers, a mass celebrated by Bishop Joesph R. Binzer, a fun run / walk, an “organ crawl” bus tour, music shows, concerts, a commissioning ceremony and numerous concerts, including a performance of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and a performance of the Grammy-nominated “Magnificat” by the Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen by the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Choir and the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.
The National Handbell Festival begins the Saturday before the NPM conference for people to attend both, and on Sunday July 9th, the Verdin Bell Company in Cincinnati will cast a special bell
“It will be something very special,” said Suzanne Sizer, Verdin’s representative. “It’s been years since the pastoral musicians had a conference in Cincinnati and it’s our 175th anniversary, so the stars have just aligned for us to celebrate together.”
The 24-inch. Bell will weigh about 250 pounds, Sizer said. The bell will be blessed to officially open the convention on Monday afternoon.
The Congress “is a unique opportunity for anyone who loves our Catholic liturgy dearly to enjoy a week of concerts, liturgies, workshops and social gatherings with literally thousands of like-minded people from around the world,” said Paul Bresciani, director of the NPM Cincinnati Chapter and leader of the parish music in St. Veronica in Mount Carmel.
“Participants will meet, learn, listen and rub with some of the giants of Catholic worship such as composers Marty Haugen (Song of the Sun), Dan Schutte (City of God) and David Haas (Blest Are They). new composers Tony Alonso, Chris De Silva and Curtis Stephan; Columba Kelly and Ray Henderson – two of the biggest names in singing – to name a few. It really is a week not to be missed! “
Concerts and events are not open to the public, but one-day registration is possible. Some parishes are institutional members and parishioners are eligible for a lower tariff. For registration information and a full list of speakers, workshops, concerts, and events, visit NPM.org.