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National Catholic Music Festival Coming to Cincinnati in July

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By Gail Finke

Thousands of parish musicians from around the world will be in Cincinnati this July, so don’t be surprised to hear singing in the streets.

The National Pastoral Musicians (NPM) Convention will run from July 10-14 at the Cincinnati Convention Center, but is only part of the joyful noise expected. The archdiocese has rescheduled its annual summer music festival for teens to the same week, and the NPM National Handbell Festival will kick off convention week with three days of events for handbell ringers and “choirs.”

Some of the country’s foremost experts on liturgical music will speak at the convention, said Karen Kane, director of the archdiocese’s Office of Divine Worship and Sacraments and one of the event’s organizers. Noted composers will also speak and lead sessions.

Speakers will include Msgr. Rick Hilgarnter, former executive director of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Secretariat for Divine 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 address chant, polyphony, and contemporary music; “praise and worship” music; antiphons and other parts of the Mass; theological topics; practical topics such as singing in bilingual parishes; and more. Washington, D.C. priest Msgr. Ray East will lead a series of workshops about the late Father Clarence Rivers, the Archdiocese of Cincinnati‘s first African-American priest and a well-known composer of music for Mass.

Additional events include master classes and clinics, multi-session institutes on liturgical theology and choir direction, half-day retreats, morning prayer, a Mass celebrated by Bishop Joesph R. Binzer, a fun run/walk, an “organ crawl” bus tour, music showcases, concerts, a commissioning ceremony, and numerous concerts, including a performance by the Notre Dame Children’s Choir and a performance of Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen ‘s Grammy-nominated “Magnificat” by the St. Peter in Chains Cathedral Choir and the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra.

The National Handbell Festival will begin Saturday before the NPM Conference, so that people can attend both, and on Sunday July 9, Cincinnati’s Verdin Bell Company will cast a special bell

“It’s going to be very special,” Verdin representative Suzanne Sizer said. “It’s been years since the pastoral musicians have had a conference in Cincinnati, and it’s our 175th anniversary, so the stars just aligned for us to celebrate together.”

The 24-in. bell will weigh about 250 pounds, Sizer said. It will be blessed and rung to officially open the convention on Monday afternoon.

The convention “is a golden opportunity for anyone with a great love of our Catholic liturgy to enjoy a week of concerts, liturgies, workshops and social gatherings with literally thousands of like-minded people from all over the world,” said Paul Bresciani, director of the NPM Cincinnati chapter and director of parish music at St. Veronica in Mount Carmel.

“Attendees will meet, learn, listen to and rub elbows with some of the giants of Catholic worship such as, composers Marty Haugen (Canticle 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 chant — just to name a few. It’s truly a week not to be missed!”

Concerts and events are not open to the public, but single-day registration is available. Some parishes are institutional members and parishioners are eligible for a lower rate. For information about how to register and a complete list of speakers, workshops, concerts, and events, go to NPM.org.

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