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An internationally-known organist, composer and choir director will present a weekend of music, workshops, and even some tips on how ministers and musicians can get along, hosted by Christ Church Cathedral.

David Cherwien, author, music director of the National Lutheran Choir, and director of music at Mt. Olive Lutheran Church, based in Minneapolis, will be in Victoria May 3-6 for the events.

The May 4 hymn festival (by donation) will feature hymns ranging from 6th-century plainsong to the work of modern composers, sung by a massed choir with voices from local churches led by the Christ Church Cathedral choir.

The working partnership between clergy and music directors is not always harmonious, says Cherwien, who will present a workshop on the clergy-musician relationship, Friday May 4 at Lutheran Church of the Cross. The biggest challenge is aligning different agendas, he said. “The musician may be thinking, ‘what songs can these people sing,’ and the pastor may be thinking, ‘what will bring in more people?’ They aren’t necessarily compatible.” For example, when one of his former churches was responsible for a summertime service at a local lake’s bandshell, he wanted to present familiar music that people walking in the area could stop and sing. The pastor wanted an ensemble to entertain. “We were working against each other,” said Cherwien.

Cherwien will also lead a workshop on May 5 on improving volunteer choirs. The session will be an observed rehearsal and is open to all choir leaders. Many churches are facing diminishing resources such as fewer people in the choir, not enough time to practice, and incomplete voicing where there isn’t a full complement of tenors, altos, basses and sopranos, says Cherwien. “We wind up with a negative cycle when something doesn’t sound that good and so people don’t want to be a part of it.” His solution is to mine the congregation’s memory bank. “People like to sing what they know. Find new things that match their abilities and never let go of that excellence.” And start a children’s choir, too, he says.

For more information about David Cherwien

Friday, May 4
11 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Lutheran Church of the Cross

Clergy-musician relations: session with Anglican and Lutheran clergy and musicians

Friday, May 4
7.30 p.m.
Christ Church Cathedral Hymn Fest: Come, Spirit of God
a musical evening featuring massed choirs

Saturday, May 5
10.00 – 11.45 a.m.
Christ Church Cathedral Getting the Best out of Volunteer Choirs: Master Class for Church Musicians

Sunday, May 6
9.30 – 10.15 a.m. What Makes for Good Hymns and Liturgical Music: Congregational Forum
Christ Church Cathedral
10:30 a.m. Combined Service