2016 Conference Archive

CWTA 2016 LogoResurrection, Reformation, and Renewal.

Resurrection, the heart of the Christian faith, is the promise of new life for a broken world. The church is in continual reformation as it proclaims and lives out this good news in each time and place. From generation to generation, with joy and hope, we await and work with God for the renewal of all creation.

The 2016 St. Olaf Conference on Worship, Theology and the Arts celebrated the good news of the resurrection and its invitation to reformation and renewal.

Worship Services

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Anton Armstrong
St. Olaf College

Anthony Bateza
St. Olaf College

James E. Bobb
St. Olaf College

Lisa Brown
St. Olaf College

John Ferguson
St. Olaf College, Emeritus

Katherine E. Fick
St. Olaf College

David Hagedorn
St. Olaf College

Therees Tkach Hibbard
St. Olaf College

Linda Glanz Kerker
Kerker, Inc.

Mark W. Lawson
MorningStar Music Publishers, St. Louis, Missouri

Thomas G. Long
Emory University, Emeritus, Atlanta, Georgia

Jill Mahr
St. Olaf College

Matthew Marohl
St. Olaf College

Jeffrey O’Donnell
St. Olaf College

Catherine Rodland
St. Olaf College

Joanne Rodland
West Side Presbyterian Church, Ridgewood, New Jersey

Beth Shugart
First United Methodist Church, Duluth, Georgia

Elizabeth Shepley
Northfield Youth Choirs

Mark Stover
St. Olaf College

Briat DeRemee Taracks
Mux Interior Design, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Sean Tonko
St. Olaf College

Michon Weeks
St. Olaf College

Joshua Wyatt
St. Olaf College

In Depth Seminars

Singing With Your Whole Self: Integrating Body, Mind, Voice and Spirit in Choral Rehearsals
& Working with the Developmental Singer

Anton Armstrong and Therees Hibbard

Dr. Hibbard will will focus on the musical, technical, and expressive development of choral singers through the integration of voice, breath and body in rehearsal and performance. Participants will experience how the engagement of the whole self when singing can have a profound effect on a choir’s understanding of tone, phrasing, rhythmic integrity, and musicality; and create a holistic approach to their choral practice and performance for singers. Dr. Armstrong will explore rehearsal goals, strategies, and techniques which can nurture healthy and artistic singing for people of all ages.

Playing the Text: Hymn Playing in Various Styles

James E. Bobb

This in-depth session will address stylistic elements of traditional hymns, folk hymns, and a variety of global hymns and how to make them work at the organ. Topics will include: reading historic and contemporary forms of harmonic shorthand (figured bass/continuo realization and jazz/pop chord symbols); creating appropriate textures with rhythm, articulation, and registration; crafting hymn introductions and harmonizations.

Organ Masterclass

John Ferguson

A two-day in depth session coaching participants in repertoire or hymn playing. One goal of the class will be the generation of a list of basic concepts that can assist in practice and performance of repertoire and hymns.  Participants interested in being coached are welcome to be in touch with Dr. Ferguson to agree upon repertoire or hymn to be coached.  A list of known repertoire will be sent in advance to any who request it from Ferguson. As always in a master class, observers are welcome and will be invited to participate in the discussions leading to the list of basic concepts explored during each two-day master class.

Be a Part of Thursday’s Easter Vigil

Katherine Fick, Matthew Marohl, and Michon Weeks

Each two-day session will design a creative way to present a story for the Easter Vigil service in art, music, and drama. From idea to performance, we will work together and tell these stories in memorable and imaginative ways for Thursday evening worship. You may only attend one of the sessions to allow others the chance to participate.

Session One (Monday and Tuesday) – Exodus 14:10-31; 15:20-21 Deliverance at the Red Sea
Session Two (Wednesday and Thursday) – Daniel 3:1-29 Deliverance from the fiery furnace

Ethnic Percussion in the Church

David Hagedorn

Get in the groove as you make authentic sounds on congas, bongos, djembe and “toys.” Learn West African and African rhythms, improvisation and how to use effective percussion with ethnic hymnody in your church. Bring instruments if you have them; they will be securely locked in the seminar room for the week.

Accompany Them with Singing: What’s Happening to Christian Funerals?

Thomas G. Long

Cremation, golf bag urns, green burials, memorial services, and celebrations of life — these are but a few of the recent changes and trends in American funeral practices. We will explore the meanings in these changes and look afresh at the history, theology, and value of Christian funerals.

Handbells: Ten Warm-ups to a Better Choir

Jill Mahr

Each warm-up will address a specific issue that keeps handbell choirs from sounding stellar.  In ten weeks, a director with intentional warm-ups can build a more musical, responsive, physical, and technically proficient handbell choir.  If you’re a ringer, come and improve your skills.

The Orff Process: A Royal Road to Learning

Joanne and Catherine Rodland

“Body, mind, spirit and voice, it takes the whole person to sing and rejoice!” Helen Kemp’s words are timeless! They remind us that what we teach will not be forgotten if we teach to the whole person. This is at the core of Carl Orff’s methodology which, since 1972, has informed much of Joanne Rodland’s work with children AND adults, and subsequently, that of Dr. Catherine Rodland. The focus on rhythmic activities in particular has led to the development of many speech chants and rondos which will be a major focus of the Children and Youth Choir workshop. With this methodology in mind, we will examine and experience creative ways to structure a rehearsal, to teach an anthem or a hymn, to immerse our young people in the learning of scripture, liturgy and the teachings of the church while keeping them actively engaged, a challenge in today’s fast moving world. We will also wrestle with the choice of material from the perspective of text in building repertoire. We will be fully engaged in “Resurrection – Reformation – Renewal”

Spotlight Sessions

Working with the Adolescent Singer: Adventure or Nightmare?

Anton Armstrong

A practical session in which Anton Armstrong will discuss vocal classification, selection of repertoire, rehearsal strategies, and issues for engaging young people in youth choral programs.  Developing healthy and expressive singing with the changing adolescent male voice as well as the female voice will be explored.

Martin Luther’s Legacy: Reforming Faith, Hope, and Love

Anthony Bateza

As the year 2017 approaches many are preparing to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 95 Theses and the start of the Protestant Reformation. In this session we will examine Luther’s theological legacy, specifically his understanding of faith, hope, and love. Participants will discuss both the intellectual and affective dimensions of these classic Christian virtues, asking what potential Luther’s theology has as we look for signs of reformation in Christian communities today.

Composing for Worship

James E. Bobb

This session will share the background and creative process behind some of the new worship music heard at this year’s CWTA by James Bobb. Creating new music for choir and/or congregation, and adapting historic materials, are weekly endeavors that James has engaged in throughout his career as a church musician. This session will highlight some aspects of the mass setting he composed for the St. Olaf student congregation, in addition to surveying a variety of newly composed miniatures for weekly worship such as psalm settings and seasonal Gospel verses. The joy of adapting/reclaiming historic materials that speak to our college-aged worshipers, such as classic Latin hymns, will also be addressed.

A Publisher’s Perspective

Mark Lawson

Music Publishing has undergone major change in the last 20 years. This session will give an overview of changes in music publishing that affect musicians. Areas of discussion will include: copyright laws and licensing; the use of social media and youtube; getting published; where are we headed with digital printing. Mark Lawson is the President of the ECS Publishing Group which includes MorningStar Music Publishers, as well as E. C. Schirmer.

A Conversation with Tom Long

Tom Long

In this Spotlight Session, Tom will talk for a few minutes about issues related to the conference theme, and then there will be an opportunity for informal questions and conversation on these issues or whatever other topics are on the minds of the participants.

Learn Four-in-Hand Bell Technique

Jill Mahr

Having Four-in-Hand Skills can solve many handbell problems.  Come explore a new skill hands on.

Worship Environment

Matthew Marohl, Katherine E. Fick, Lisa Brown

Our College Ministry Staff works together daily to transform the worship space in Boe Chapel using simple decorations such as candles, flowers, and seasonal banners. Come learn how to regularly freshen your worship environment on a modest budget with joy and creativity.


Matthew Marohl and Katherine E. Fick

How are your congregations engaging with young adults? What are your joys, concerns, and questions? Come to an open forum with the college pastors to talk about your context and to hear what they are seeing in daily ministry with 18-22 year olds.

Technology in Worship: Sound Reinforcement, Recording and Webcasting: A Case Study

Jeffrey O’Donnell, Joshua Wyatt, and Sean Tonko

This demonstration session will explore the challenges and opportunities for sound reinforcement, recording, webcasting, lighting and other technologies for worship spaces. Using the audio/visual system of Boe Memorial Chapel as an example, we will demonstrate techniques and concepts that will help improve many aspects of audio and video distribution operations in your church. Will include Q & A – come with questions!

Gems for the Church Organist: Reformation and Resurrection

Catherine Rodland

This session will focus on organ works suitable for preludes and postludes for both Reformation and Holy Week. Primary attention will be given to chorale, hymn, and chant based works for these seasons, and will include some newer works as well as older chestnuts. The session will conclude with a variety of possibilities for that Easter postlude that are not the Widor Toccata!

Of Primary Importance: Children’s Choirs

Beth Schugart

This session will equip leaders with anthems, teaching strategies and a new three year curriculum for leading Children’s choirs (Of Primary Importance, Volume III). A strong children’s choir contributes to a bright future for the church, its music ministry and its soon to be leaders nurtured through their experiences in a theologically grounded children’s choir pedagogy.

Pedagogy of Teaching Children

Elizabeth Shepley

Techniques for freeing the child voice and helping boys and girls develop their most exquisite choral sound.

Same As It Ever Was

Mark Stover

Does your congregation love the idea of change as long as everything remains the same? The worshiping church in 2016 offers a smorgasbord of opportunity to explore, to transform, and to renew the voice of the people of God. Come engage in this critical conversation that will equip you to navigate the whitewater of that which was, that which is, and that which we hope to be.

Art Celebrating the Everyday and Unexpected

Brita Taracks and Linda Kerker

When it comes to creating liturgical installations, Brita and Linda work from the inside out. Most importantly, they have learned to expect the unexpected. Inviting the Holy Spirit into their process through prayer allows them to think deeply, creatively and broadly about biblical texts. They see beauty and potential in unusual materials like hog fencing and selfies. They involve their faith community to participate in each creation, upcycling donations of plastic water bottles, old clothes and written prayers into beautiful and stunning art. The results are visual meditations on new ways of seeing God’s presence in everyday life, which nurtures and celebrates their faith community. In this spotlight session, join Linda and Brita for a creative journey that will give you hands-on experience in designing a new liturgical installation.

Plenary Sessions and Conference Gatherings

The conference will gather as a whole several times during the week outside of our worship experiences to discuss issues of the theology, music, and the arts.

Plenary Session I: Keeping the Faith in a Time of Disenchantment

Thomas G. Long

We live in a time when may people in our culture are “disenchanted” with religion, both in the sense of being disappointed and in the sense of no longer sensing the presence and activity of God in everyday life.  In this presentation, we will explore how it is that Christians preach, teach, sing, worship and live so as to nourish faith and keep it alive.

Plenary Session II: Millennials

Matthew Marohl and Katherine E. Fick

It has been estimated that eight million young people will leave the church before their thirtieth birthday. So, what are the spiritual cares and concerns, needs and wants of Millennials? How can congregations respond to this new reality of church life? The St Olaf College Pastors will summarize some recent trends and present a number of different responses. They will also share their joys and challenges as pastors to emerging adults.

Worship “Deconstruction” Sessions

Conference Worship Planning Team

The college ministry team at St. Olaf plans six worship services each week of the academic year and has formed the core of worship planning for this conference. You are invited to join them and other worship planners in conversations and questions reviewing the previous day’s worship and looking ahead to the next worship services. Why were certain elements chosen? How were they executed? Come for a behind-the-scenes discussion.

Following these sessions, we invite conference attendees to participate in the “TUG”, or Technology Users Group. This group will offer discussion and networking among people who have questions, stories to share, or wish to further their knowledge about all aspects of presentation technology as it relates to the worship environment.  St. Olaf Broadcast Media staff will be on hand for discussion and may provide short topical presentations, but there is no particular focus — attendees’ interests and needs would drive the discussion, in hopes that they would leave with new ideas, answered questions, and contacts with others in similar situations.

Conference Recital Series

Tuesday, July 19, 2016, 12:30 p.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel

Martin Hodel, Trumpet
John Ferguson, Organ

Wednesday, July 20, 2016, 12:30 p.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel

Catherine Rodland, Organ
Presented in collaboration with the Northfield Noontime Organ Recital Series

Thursday, July 21, 2016, 12:30 p.m.
Boe Memorial Chapel

Karen Wilkerson, Mezzo soprano
James E. Bobb, Keyboard


Michon Weeks

Embark on a walking tour that will engage your mind and lift your spirit. St. Olaf College, home to over 1,700 paintings, drawings, prints, textiles, ceramics, and sculptures, invites you to explore the art in its permanent collection displayed throughout campus. The tour will begin at the Link in the Center for Art and Dance on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons (weather permitting) at 4 p.m. Michon Weeks, Visiting Assistant Professor of Art, will guide the 1.25 hour tour.

Conference Wrap Up with All Clinicians: Putting it All Together

All Presenters

As the conference draws to a close, how are we re-envisioning resurrection, reformation, and renewal? How can we nurture new encounters with these cornerstones of Christian faith in the worship lives of our congregations?  Jo Beld, Vice President for Mission at St. Olaf College, will lead participants in reflecting on conference themes and considering next steps.


Adorn this House / Jeannette Paulson
Duluth, Minnesota

Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
Minneapolis, Minnesota

Chorister’s Guild
Dallas, Texas

Concordia Publishing House
St. Louis, Missouri

GIA Publications
Chicago, Illinois

Heitz Handbells and Music
Richfield, Minnesota

Interwoven / Ann H. Anderson
Forest City, Iowa

J.W. Pepper
Edina, Minnesota