Music Matters 2018 in London, Ontario, April 27-29

Our annual gathering for Music United is in London, Ontario this year! We’re holding our conference in conjunction with the Revitalize 2 Theological Conference hosted by Metropolitan United Church, offering the participant a wide selection of workshops and
learning opportunities through both events! You can register for Music Matters through our eventbrite registration page, and further details regarding Revitalize 2 can be found here. Your Music Matters registration fee ($50) entitles you to attend all events listed below from both Revitalize 2 and Music Matters.

A list of amenities in the area, including accommodations and restaurants can be downloaded here.

We look forward to seeing you in London!


FSA=First-St. Andrew’s United Church, 350 Queens Ave, London, ON

MET=Metropolitan United Church, 468 Wellington St, London, ON

Friday, April 27th

9:30-10:30 Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey: “Engagement Funded by Theological Audacity” (MET)

10:30- 11:00 Break

11:00-12:00 Peter Short: “Simple Questions, Difficult Work” – part 1 (MET)

12:00-1:00 Lunch at FSA

Afternoon Sessions at MET

1:00-1:45 Dr. Bill Acres: “The Mohawk Institute: Spirals of Silence”

2:00-2:45 Rev. Dr. John Young: “Theological Reflection: A Crucial Art in Our Time”

3:00-3:45 Dr. Phyllis Airhart: “Engaging Reformation and Revival: Learning from Movements of Revitalization”- part 1

4:00-4:45 Rev. Dr. Andrew Fullerton: “The Protestant Problem”

Afternoon Sessions at FSA

1:00-1:45 Rev. Dr. Lizette Larson-Miller: “What did we just do?’ Worship as theology in action”

2:00-2:45 Dr. Bruce Harding: “Behold: One Another” – music in worship through an intercultural lens”

3:00-3:45 Rev. Anna Christie: “Sermon editing: the most important step”

4:00-4:45 Dr. Fred Graham: “The Common Lectionary: Theological Reflection via Music”

Supper on own

7:00 pm Community Worship Service (including welcome & introductions) at FSA

Saturday, April 28th

Morning Sessions at FSA and MET

8:45 – 9:00 Gathering music – FSA

9:00-10:30 Karen Schuessler: Why teach Vocal Technique in a choral rehearsal – FSA

It is helpful to teach vocal technique to choristers who have not had extensive vocal training. Some of your singers may be taking lessons now, as adults, but their vocal habits weren’t established in childhood and so the technique comes and goes with their attention. Even trained singers may not have been trained solidly if they focused on repertoire, especially when they were young and their voices did things naturally. Later in life, this may not be the case. As well, a common understanding of vocal technique as the conductor refers to it makes for a more unified ensemble. In volunteer choirs, this can be of great benefit to even out the group and save a lot of rehearsal time.

In this workshop we will explore six key vocal techniques that we practice at every rehearsal. We will have the time to experiment with them ourselves and apply them to repertoire so that the end result is a smooth, balanced sound with rhythmic verve and good intonation.

Always striving for creative programming and the best in choral quality, Karen Schuessler has become a highly-respected force within the London choral scene. She is a passionate voice for making the magic of live performance happen.

As founder and conductor of the Karen Schuessler Singers, Karen has led the choir in performances of Haydn’s Lord Nelson Mass, Mozart’s Coronation Mass, requiems by Brahms, Duruflé and Fauré, Handel’s Dettingen Te Deum, Gjeilo’s Sunrise Mass, Jenkins’ The Armed Man, Halley’s Missa Gaia/Earth Mass, and several Bach cantatas. Also performances of works by John Rutter, Gilbert & Sullivan, London area composers, Broadway composers, ABBA, and the Beatles; and the music of Celtic lands, Africa, South America and Canada.

As artistic director of the choir, Karen has now shaped the programming of and directed over 100 concerts offered over 25 seasons, always mindful of changing cultural trends and often thinking outside the box of the traditional concert experience to more actively involve and engage the audience. She often seeks to partner with non-music organizations to broaden the scope and strengthen the message of the music.

Karen is also Director of Music at Wesley-Knox United Church, London, Ontario, where she plays the organ, directs the adult choir, and heads and conducts a children’s community choir program that annually, week after week, engages over 100 children and young people.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Michigan State University and a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Both Karen and her choirs have received wide recognition. The Karen Schuessler Singers was named Best Classical Choir in the 2009 Jack Richardson Awards. In 2010, the choir’s Road to Freedom CD was named Best CD of the Year by James Reaney and the London Free Press. More recently, the City of London honoured Karen by naming her to the Mayor’s 2018 New Year’s Honour List in the category of Arts in recognition of her many contributions to the cultural life of the city.

As a choral conductor, an organ soloist who has performed in Canada, the US and South America, an accompanist, a private music teacher, an examiner for Conservatory Canada and a music festival adjudicator, Karen helps people everywhere make notes fly off the page in live musical experience.

9:30-10:30 Rev. Dr. Rob Fennell: “Theological Reflection as a Spiritual Practice: Counterintuitive Creativity” – MET

10:30-11 Break (FSA & Met)

11:00-11:50 Terry Head: Handbells & Liturgy – FSA

An exploration of the use of handbells in worship, as well as ideas for variations in ensemble work.

Terry Head is currently the Minister of Music at First-St. Andrew’s United Church in London, Ontario and has been in music ministry for over 20 years. Passionate about the gifts music ministry has to offer, Terry loves to share music through congregational singing, choral works and handbell ringing. Terry is past Chair for Music United and our regional convenor for London Conference.

11:00-11:50 Jason Locke and Bruce Harding: Music Composition – FSA

The Spirit calls forth songs in all of us, but sometimes we need a bit of help listening to her voice! Join Jason Locke and Bruce Harding for a quick but informative romp through the songwriting process, after which we will write and share simple songs together, in groups or individually, as the Spirit calls.

Jason Locke bio coming soon

Bruce Harding is a passionate lover of—and an advocate for—community song in Christian community. He is a singer, song leader, multi-instrumentalist, and a composer whose songs are sung in churches across Canada, the USA, Australia and beyond. Bruce served as managing editor for More Voices, the most recent song collection for The United Church of Canada. He comes to us from New Westminster, BC, where he serves as music minister at Crossroads United Church in Delta, BC, teaches at the intercultural Naad Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts in Surrey, BC, and plays in a variety of global fusion ensembles.

11:00-12:00 Rev. Dr. Paul Wilson: “Why AA May be More Inspiring Than Our Worship” – MET

12:00-1:00 Lunch at Met

1:-2:45 Dr. Victoria Meredith: “A Voice for Life” and “Beyond the Notes: Generating a Healthy and Successful Adult Choral Experience”  (includes 15 minute break between topics) – FSA

“A Voice for Life” In this interactive session, Dr. Victoria Meredith addresses vocal changes and challenges that singers tend to experience across time. Applying the principles of exercise physiology to maintaining a healthy singing voice at any age, singers and conductors will explore a variety of vocal conditioning techniques that contribute to the preservation of the voice and a lifetime of fulfilling choral singing.

“Beyond the Notes: Generating a Healthy and Successful Adult Choral Experience” Choral singing is documented as having a wide variety of positive effects on various aspects of singers’ health. This session explores some of the aesthetic, psychological, social and physical benefits that singing in a choir can have for participants. It also delves into ways in which the adult choir experience can be enhanced through successful strategies for repertoire selection and rehearsal techniques specifically appropriate for adult singers.

Dr. Victoria Meredith is Professor of choral music at Western University’s Don Wright Faculty of Music. She has directed choirs of all ages, including the 2010 National Youth Choir of Canada and honour choirs in nearly every province and in the United States. Ensembles under her direction have earned over twenty national awards. A frequent juror for arts organizations such as the Canada Council and music festivals across the country, Dr. Meredith maintains an active career as a guest conductor, workshop clinician, adjudicator and author. Her work on the adult voice has gained international recognition through the publication of her award-winning book “Sing Better As You Age” and her popular interactive workshops.

1:00-1:45 The Very Rev. Dr. Peter Short: “Simple Questions, Difficult Work” (part 2) – MET

2:00-2:45 Dr. Phyllis Airhart: “Engaging Reformation and Revival: Learning from Movements of Revitalization” (part 2) – MET

3:00-3:45 Jason Locke: Anthem Reading session for Small Choirs – FSA

3:00-3:45 Dr. Fred Graham: Pianist as Organist – FSA

With little or no warning, you are called upon to play the organ for worship. Keys you can handle, but what are stops? Why do they have numbers on them? Should you use all of them? What are pedals for? Why does organ music look different from piano music? These and other questions will be up for discussion with Fred Graham, long-time organist, and retired professor of church music from Emmanuel College, Toronto, as he assists musicians in transitioning from the piano stool to the organ bench.

Fred Kimball Graham served the General Council Office of the United Church 1988-2001, and Emmanuel College 2001-12. During this period, he regularly conducted workshops from Atlantic to Pacific, completed a PhD in Liturgical Theology, had a leading role in preparation of both “Voices United” and “Celebrate God’s Presence” and established Canada’s only Master of Sacred Music program at the University of Toronto. In partial retirement, he currently serves Dublin Street United church as interim musician in Guelph.

3:00-3:45 Rev. Dr. Rob Fennell: “Five Interrogatives for Mission in the 21st Century” – MET

4:00-4:45 Terry Head: Anthem Reading session for larger choirs – FSA

This workshop session provides attendees with an opportunity to read through seven up-to-date anthems focusing on different seasons within the liturgical year, that fit well within a United Church of Canada context.

See Terry Head’s bio above.

4:45-5:00 Closing comments and surveys – FSA

4:00-4:45 Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey: “Pilgrimage and Migration as Theological Epiphanies” – MET

Supper on own

7:00 Mini Hymn Festival – led by Music United – FSA

A celebratory time of singing together – a public event, so invite your friends and family! No admission cost, but an offering will be taken to support the Mission and Service Fund.

Sunday April 29th

9:30-10:15 Choir rehearsal – participants of Music Matters are invited to join with the choir of FSA

10:30-11:30 Church Service – FSA

Lunch on your own

1:00-3:00 Annual General Meeting for Music United – anyone is invited to attend this meeting – FSA

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