Summary report by Dr. Thomas Fielding, director of liturgy and music, St. Augustine Cathedral, Kalamazoo, MI.
Each year just after the liturgical celebration of the Epiphany, the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians (CRCCM) holds its conference. This year CRCCM combined with the 8th biennial Cathedral Ministry Conference in Minneapolis, MN for a joint week of education and fellowship. The convention hotel was the Minneapolis Hyatt, just a short walk from the host Cathedral, the Basilica of St. Mary, the co-Cathedral of the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.
Monday began with a talk by Fr. Jan Michael Joncas on "The Use of Hymnody in Roman Rite Eucharist." Fr. Joncas traced the etymology of the word hymn from Hebrew and Greek Scripture through such contemporary texts as Harry Eskew's Sing With Understanding. Following the presentation, CRCCM members were treated to a short demonstration of the Basilica of St. Mary's IV/82 Wicks organ by Basilica organist Christopher Stroh. The opening liturgy of the convention began at 5:30pm with an Evening Prayer service designed to showcase the Basilica's liturgical reprints of the monumental St. John's Bible project (more below). Christopher provided organ prelude music beginning at 515pm and the Basilica's 14-voice semi-professional Schola Cantorum under the direction of Basilica music director Teri Larson provided superior leadership of an eclectic program. A welcome reception followed in the Basilica's Teresa of Calcutta Hall.
Tuesday morning began with a buffet breakfast in the Hyatt and Morning Prayer at 8:15am in the Westminster Presbyterian Church chapel. The day's keynote began at 9am and was presented by Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, on the topic "Pope Francis and Church Reform." Fr. Reese is senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter and a former editor of America magazine. His presentation focused on aspects of the emerging administrative style of Pope Francis. Following a coffee break, CRCCM members gathered for a presentation by Christoph Tietze, DSM, on "Chants of the Mass (Propers I): Exploring Proper Chants/Texts of the Mass" in which the Dr. Tietze explored various theories of the historical origins of the Mass Propers texts, particularly one expressed by James McKinnon in The Advent Project. Lunch followed this workshop and the afternoon session continued the topic of "Chants of the Mass (Propers II): Exploring Proper Chants/Texts of the Mass" with Jason McFarland, PhD. Dr. McFarland focused on more practical issues of the use of the Propers in the Modern Roman Rite Mass, particularly regarding the rubrics for the Entrance and Communion antiphons. After a coffee break, the buses departed for St. Paul Cathedral/National Shrine of the Apostle Paul, St. Paul, MN. A formal tour of the spectacular Beaux Arts Cathedral designed by E. L. Masqueray followed. Organ prelude music began at 5pm performed by Cathedral organist Lawrence Lawyer on the 1963 Aeolian-Skinner/2013 Quimby instrument. The Mass itself had as its principal celebrant The Most Reverend John C. Nienstedt, Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis. The Cathedral Choir was under the direction of Dr. Sean Vogt and the choristers of the Cathedral Choir School of Minnesota under the direction of Mrs. Jayne Windnagel. The day concluded with "dinner on your own."
Wednesday commenced again with a buffet breakfast and Morning Prayer at 8:15am in the Westminster Presbyterian Chapel. The annual CRCCM business meeting began at 9am in the chapel and members introduced themselves, reviewed the financial statement prepared by treasurer Don Fellows (St. Paul Cathedral, Pittsburgh) and discussed various future project proposals. After a coffee break back at the Hyatt, convention attendees had the choice of two workshop sessions. This author chose "Beyond 'Sunday School': Engaging Children and Youth" presented jointly by Joe Cotton, director of youth ministry for St. James Cathedral, Seattle, WA, who gave an overview of the Cathedral's youth ministry program, and by Teri Larson who offered an overview of the salient administrative aspects of the Basilica's children’s music program. Lunch followed and then buses departed for an afternoon excursion which began in the St. Paul Seminary Chapel, completed in 1905 and renovated in 1988. A new 22-stop mechanical action organ by the Noack Organ Co., Inc., of Georgetown, Massachusetts, was installed in 2000. Liturgical Music Director David Jenkins, DMA, served as our host for this tour and organ demonstration. The group then travelled to the organ gallery of St. Paul Cathedral for the CRCCM composers' reading session. Each year at its annual conference, CRCCM members submit score samples of member liturgical works with the conference attendees acting as the choir. The evening's main event was 5:30pm Mass at the Basilica of St. Mary with a 5:15pm prelude featuring some of the Basilica's various vocal and bell choirs. The principal celebrant of the Mass was the Most Reverend Lee Piché, an Archdiocesan Auxiliary Bishop. An extended postlude concluded the Mass, again showcasing the fine and diverse musical groups that call the Basilica home. Dinner was "on your own."
Thursday was the final day of the Ministry Conference which ended after the morning keynote, but CRCCM elected to create a full day of activities for its members. Again, the day began with a buffet breakfast and Morning Prayer. The final keynote of the week began at 9am by Fr Jan Michael Joncas who spoke on "The Second Vatican Council and Liturgy: Learning from the Past and Hopes for the Future." At 11am, buses departed taking CRCCM members over 60 miles northwest to St. John's University, Collegeville, MN. Upon arrival, the Liturgical Press provided a buffet luncheon in the University's Great Hall. CRCCM members then had choices among options for three back-to-back workshops to attend. This author attended "Improvisation and Modal Theory in the Development of Gregorian Chant" presented by Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB; "Caring for One's Voice" presented by SJU choral music faculty Axel Theimer; and a tour of the New Science Center vault housing the spectacular St. John's Bible, a 1,127-page, hand-written illuminated manuscript of the complete Bible under the artistic direction of renowned calligrapher Donald Jackson and under the full-time care of Director Tim Ternes. CRCCM members then gathered in the "new" abbey church, a concrete Bauhaus monolith designed by architect Marcel Breuer and dedicated in 1961, at 5pm for the celebration of the community's evening conventual Mass. Buses then returned to the Hyatt and CRCCM members held their annual closing banquet at Vincent's, a fine eatery in the French bistro tradition, at which prayer was offered for our deceased members and an honorary advisor position was conferred upon Dr. James Savage who retired this past December from 30 years of service as the director of music for Seattle's St. James Cathedral.