by RAY STEDMAN
Church musicians from two countries met in Brisbane early in October for a three-day conference.
About five years ago, Catholic Church musicians in Australia, seeking solidarity, support and education, formed the Australian Pastoral Musicians’ Network, (APMN).
This year, from October 1 to 3, they held their first national conference, “Songs for the Journey’’.
About 200 musicians from New Zealand and every state of Australia gathered at St James’ College, Brisbane, to profit from an uplifting and energising programme.
The venue could not have been better, with comfortable rooms at the conference’s disposal, each equipped with Yamaha Clavinova digital pianos.
Extensive shaded outside spaces creating a pleasant environment. Allen Organs and Yamaha Music were the principal sponsors.
The hospitality and organisation of the hosts, who worked extremely hard, made a conference that ran without a hitch.
The conference featured three keynote speakers: Composer Marty Haugen; Theology lecturer Dr Maeve Heaney, VDMF; Faith and Culture lecturer Rev. Dr Richard Leonard, SJ. Each presented varied and profound insights into the use of music in worship.
Mr Haugen presented two keynotes addresses and two master classes. He is a man who is not only a talented composer but a person energised by study, reflection and prayer. His sessions were full of singing, humour and inspiration.
Dr Heaney, a member of Verbum Dei Missionary Fraternity, is a musician and theologian who has worked extensively overseas and who uses music as a tool in teaching theology, especially with young people. Her reflections and insights are valuable for anyone engaged in any ministry.
Fr Richard Leonard is a Jesuit priest and author whose family has known intense suffering. He invited the musicians to confront some of the important questions they all face.
Fr Leonard came across as a wise, insightful, pastoral priest never settling for easy answers. His reflection on the value of music in worship was inspiring, as was his down to earth theology and presentation.
Sixteen workshops were also offered, and attendees selected six from those available. The workshops all involved music in some genre or form and were led by a group of inspiring, wise, knowledgeable and spirit-filled people.
A great deal of music was presented, some old and a great deal new, some for adult congregations and some for children. All of it involved singing and honing of sight reading skills.
The nine New Zealanders who attended the conference left feeling inspired and affirmed in their ministry. A hope of those New Zealanders was that eventually there would be enough interest among music ministers in New Zealand to form an NZ chapter of the APMN. That interest may be chanelled through the National Liturgy Office here.