The 67th annual Sewanee Church Music Conference was one for the record books. Several new events were sprinkled amongst the standard fare. Our faculty for the week included Todd Wilson, who is on the faculty of Cleveland Institute of Music, as well as Director of Music at Trinity Cathedral in Cleveland. Todd’s easy manner and clever sense of humor brought out the best of the attendees. When Todd directed, Peter Conte was the organist and vice versa. Peter Conte is the Grand Court Organist at Macy’s in Philadelphia, as well as a church musician at St. Clement’s.
Our Spiritual Director for the week was the incomparable Barbara Cawthorne Crafton, whom I refer to as “The Garrison Keillor of the clergy set.” Normally during a week of conference, attendance at chapel tends to wane as the days go by, but not so with Barbara preaching. Very few attendees skipped services, as the sermons presented were fascinating. In addition, Barbara presented lectures during the week, also extremely well attended. Her latest book, The Also Life, was the general theme of her lectures.
Monday evening, the arrival day, was celebrated with a beautiful Compline service and was held in All Saints’ Chapel, with choir stalls’ candles lit – a reminder to all of the reason we were at Sewanee. Tuesday evening, we enjoyed a concert by a wonderful early music choral group from Birmingham, Alabama. Wednesday night we enjoyed Todd Wilson and Peter Conte playing the Gerre Hancock Memorial Recital. Easily this was the finest organ recital I personally have ever experienced! Thursday evening, many of us gathered around Barbara Crafton for a book signing and to listen to her read several selections. Friday evening, the attendees presented an Evensong service, which was very well attended. Following this was the annual “Frolic” where several attendees present humorous skits. Saturday evening, our yearly banquet and the realization that soon our time at Sewanee would be over. Our final event, the culmination of our week together, Sunday Eucharist.
Too soon, Sewanee in our rearview mirror, we headed back to Ohio where we began counting the days until our southbound trip to Sewanee returns.
One of the outstanding features of the Sewanee Conference is the atmosphere of family. Attendee Jennie Harner learned this first hand this year. After a fall, the “family” not only stepped in to care for her needs while she was at conference, helping in any way they could to make her as comfortable as possible, but also, upon her return home, have followed her doctor visits and ensuing surgery on her broken bone, assuring her of their prayers and well wishes. A week on the Holy Mountain provides outstanding music, wonderful worship, beautiful scenery as well as blessed fellowship with fellow church musicians.
If you are a church musician and have never attended one of the Sewanee Conferences, you should consider making plans now. The 2018 dates are July 9-15 and the faculty will include Robert Simpson for Choral and Stephen Buzard for Organ. Our Chaplain for the week will be the Rev. Erika Takacs. You can learn more about the Sewanee Conference by visiting the website: www.sewaneeconf.com. There you will find the 2018 schedule, to give you an idea of what to expect, as well as information about things to do and see in the area, history of the conference and much more. You can even listen to Evensong and Sunday Eucharist from 2017.
Pictured above, left to right, front: John Glaze, St. Mary’s, Hillsboro; Justin Wiget, All Saints, Portsmouth; Jennie Harner, St. Mary’s, Hillsboro; Stanley Workman, 2nd Presbyterian, Portsmouth; Shiloh Roby, Christ Church, Cincinnati; Todd Wilson, Faculty, Cleveland; Ned Brooks, St. James, Wooster. Missing from the photo: Douglas Ritchey, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus; Laura Rocklin, St. Phillip’s, Circleville.
John Glaze serves as organist at St. Mary’s, Hillsboro.