Glorious Choir Convention aims to reinvigorate music ministers in June

May 3, 2024 at 1:59 p.m.
The choir of St. Mary Parish, Middletown, leads the congregation in sung praise during the Easter Vigil Mass. Courtesy photo
The choir of St. Mary Parish, Middletown, leads the congregation in sung praise during the Easter Vigil Mass. Courtesy photo

By EmmaLee Italia, Contributing Editor

A unique opportunity for choirs and music ministers from parishes of the Trenton Diocese and surrounding areas is coming to Middletown in June.

In what organizers hope will become an annual event, the first Glorious Choir Convention is planned for June 21, 7-9 p.m., and June 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at St. Mary Parish, 19 Cherry Tree Farm Road.

“At St. Mary’s [our choirs were] able to survive and to strive throughout [the pandemic], and now we would like to pass on that flame of harmonies and melodies that kept us going,” said Malena Towers, director of sacred music at St. Mary Parish and the convention’s creative artistic director. “If we have music that’s the best it can be, it will transform our culture and our communities … it’s time to recover the music.”

The convention looks to unite choirs of the Diocese and “to inspire, equip and empower church [musicians] to continue the work of God,” Towers shared. “It’s for everyone who can hold a pitch … it creates a fellowship as well, becoming part of a Christian musical family.”

Malena Towers, sacred music director in St. Mary Parish, directs the choir during the 2024 Easter Vigil Mass. Courtesy photo


CONCERTS MASTER CLASSES

The two-day celebration will open June 21 with a Gala Concert featuring sacred choral works performed by each participating choir. The following day will include morning rehearsals and afternoon master classes on various musical aspects. The program concludes with a 4 p.m. Mass, open to all, with fellowship and refreshments to follow. Children’s choirs also are encouraged to attend.

“This Choir Convention is so important for the revival of our Liturgical Sacred Arts and for the evangelization of our community through music,” Towers wrote in a letter to music ministry leaders. “Worshipping God with a choir makes such a difference.”

She hopes the convention will grow each year to be hosted in different parishes of the Diocese, and that it “will promote the divine beauty of our Catholic musical and choral heritage.”

PANDEMIC FALLOUT

Towers said the COVID-19 pandemic critically affected the way parishes worship, and many churches came close to losing or completely lost their choirs.

“This choir convention is possible thanks to our pastor Father Jeff Kegley and his desire to bless our community through the spiritual

and musical experience of worship to expand the kingdom of God,” Towers said, noting that it’s also “an opportunity for music directors to share experiences and learn from each other.”

The idea for the convention came to Towers in January, and she immediately began reaching out to other local music directors, inviting them to “take things to the next level.”

Master classes and workshops will explore theological foundation of traditional and contemporary worship; choir and orchestra conducting; Gregorian chant and vocal technique; sound engineering; children’s choir and organ.

“I’ve seen the power of conventions ... [teaching] how to grow spiritually and see the meaning behind the music,” Towers said. “We become proclaimers of the excellency and glory of God.”

In addition to Towers, presenters will include Shawn Mack, director of the Diocesan Festival Choir and Orchestra; Jessica Kortenhaus, director of liturgical music in St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant; Dr. Carly York, adjunct professor of music at Georgian Court University, Lakewood; Rudy Lucente of Allen Organ Company for church organists; and Frank Slater, adjunct professor of music technology at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft.

Cost to pre-register before May 30 is $30 for adults, $15 for children; late registration June 1-18 is $35. Register at https://stmarychurchnj.org/musicministry.

For additional information, email:

[email protected] or contact Malena Towers, 732-671-0071 x239.


Related Stories

A unique opportunity for choirs and music ministers from parishes of the Trenton Diocese and surrounding areas is coming to Middletown in June.

In what organizers hope will become an annual event, the first Glorious Choir Convention is planned for June 21, 7-9 p.m., and June 22, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., at St. Mary Parish, 19 Cherry Tree Farm Road.

“At St. Mary’s [our choirs were] able to survive and to strive throughout [the pandemic], and now we would like to pass on that flame of harmonies and melodies that kept us going,” said Malena Towers, director of sacred music at St. Mary Parish and the convention’s creative artistic director. “If we have music that’s the best it can be, it will transform our culture and our communities … it’s time to recover the music.”

The convention looks to unite choirs of the Diocese and “to inspire, equip and empower church [musicians] to continue the work of God,” Towers shared. “It’s for everyone who can hold a pitch … it creates a fellowship as well, becoming part of a Christian musical family.”

Malena Towers, sacred music director in St. Mary Parish, directs the choir during the 2024 Easter Vigil Mass. Courtesy photo


CONCERTS MASTER CLASSES

The two-day celebration will open June 21 with a Gala Concert featuring sacred choral works performed by each participating choir. The following day will include morning rehearsals and afternoon master classes on various musical aspects. The program concludes with a 4 p.m. Mass, open to all, with fellowship and refreshments to follow. Children’s choirs also are encouraged to attend.

“This Choir Convention is so important for the revival of our Liturgical Sacred Arts and for the evangelization of our community through music,” Towers wrote in a letter to music ministry leaders. “Worshipping God with a choir makes such a difference.”

She hopes the convention will grow each year to be hosted in different parishes of the Diocese, and that it “will promote the divine beauty of our Catholic musical and choral heritage.”

PANDEMIC FALLOUT

Towers said the COVID-19 pandemic critically affected the way parishes worship, and many churches came close to losing or completely lost their choirs.

“This choir convention is possible thanks to our pastor Father Jeff Kegley and his desire to bless our community through the spiritual

and musical experience of worship to expand the kingdom of God,” Towers said, noting that it’s also “an opportunity for music directors to share experiences and learn from each other.”

The idea for the convention came to Towers in January, and she immediately began reaching out to other local music directors, inviting them to “take things to the next level.”

Master classes and workshops will explore theological foundation of traditional and contemporary worship; choir and orchestra conducting; Gregorian chant and vocal technique; sound engineering; children’s choir and organ.

“I’ve seen the power of conventions ... [teaching] how to grow spiritually and see the meaning behind the music,” Towers said. “We become proclaimers of the excellency and glory of God.”

In addition to Towers, presenters will include Shawn Mack, director of the Diocesan Festival Choir and Orchestra; Jessica Kortenhaus, director of liturgical music in St. Martha Parish, Point Pleasant; Dr. Carly York, adjunct professor of music at Georgian Court University, Lakewood; Rudy Lucente of Allen Organ Company for church organists; and Frank Slater, adjunct professor of music technology at Brookdale Community College, Lincroft.

Cost to pre-register before May 30 is $30 for adults, $15 for children; late registration June 1-18 is $35. Register at https://stmarychurchnj.org/musicministry.

For additional information, email:

[email protected] or contact Malena Towers, 732-671-0071 x239.

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