Thanks to you all for your prayers for me as I was attending a music conference last week, with the Nat’l Assoc of Church Musicians far, far away in Santa Ana CA. It’s a mostly traditional affair, and it always serves to reconnect me with my choral music leanings. I am one of only a few worship directors there with a hand in both traditional and contemporary forms, and am there to give perspective and to ‘inject life’ in the aging group…! At least that’s what a couple of directors I greatly admire have placed on me. I always feel honored to be around some of these church music leaders (and composers, and choral directors) that I have a great respect for. Their church music experiences are often so very different than my own, though I did live in their world years before I came to COD, and we do often deal with very similar ministry issues.
I was fortunate to learn from and sing with Dr. Jo-Michael Scheibe, current chair of choral music at USC, director of their excellent Chamber Singers, and former church music director for years. He was warm and engaging, and I wish you all could have joined me in listening to his heart for ministry and people who sing. This from a guy who’s clearly a large influence in choral music in America these past ten years or more. He asked me to call him Mike, which was kind, and he asked me to be his tenor soloist on the opening piece of music we sang in the worship service at the end of the conference. Why me, not sure. The first day there we had a session with Carver Cossey, who’s strong in leading gospel music for choirs, and Carver had me singing/improvising a solo on a piece with the group. As a tenor. Which I’m not so much. But I go there to help out where I can, and no one else volunteered I guess – ! So that led me I think to Dr. Scheibe saying to me, ‘you’re my guy, I want you to sing on the Gloria’. Singing in latin, to an african-style beat with percussion and acapella choir. So sorry you will not find that on youtube — !! It went well I think, and I chalk it all up to good experience and fun.
The event was at Calvary Church in Santa Ana, which was nice as it gave me a chance to connect with the worship leaders there, and see how they do ministry on Sundays. Overall I got to meet with and encourage a number of people, and was grateful to get to sing some choral music again. I’m writing another article for their Journal for September, something I usually use as opportunity to share my contemporary perspective with these leaders. I want to see worship ministry evolve for good in this association of church music leaders, and am passionate about seeing grace work in music ministry regardless of denomination. Continue to pray for me and my influence here, that God would be glorified. Pray also for those church ministries in CA and beyond that are staid, sometimes stale, and lost in the past, struggling for relevance and younger membership.