The Chorister and the Church of the Future: Models for Training Children and Youth in Sacred Choral Repertories


Location: McKenna Hall

The Chorister and the Church conference gathers conductors, scholars, educators, church musicians, administrators, and students to discuss ways to reinvigorate children's choral music in sacred settings from the Cathedral to the local church. The assembled presenters are drawn from sacred, secular, public, private, regional, national, and international organizations to share ideas and disseminate knowledge with Notre Dame graduate students and active regional music educators and church musicians. 

Everyone has a story about a song from his or her childhood. Ask a prominent musician about their early artistic influences, and many will recall that special individual whose teaching opened up new worlds of understanding. So too will many worshippers recall a special moment or service in which a pastoral musician was able to enliven the worship and make a difference in her or his prayer lives as children or youth. Until the middle of the nineteenth century, virtually all documented composers of the western world were trained as child choristers.

This forum unites leading authorities in the training and formation of children's choirs to raise issues, ask questions, and hypothesize answers concerning the preservation and future growth of children's sacred choral music by church musicians, composers, religious institutions, and concert halls of the future. Our assembly of presenters breaks down the barriers that often divide scholars from practitioners and performers from parishioners. 

The Chorister and the Church of the Future breaks down barriers that often divide scholars from practitioners and performers from parishioners. The conference includes performances by the Notre Dame Children's Choir of J.S. Bach's cantata 140: Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme and by the Kronos Quartet and choruses of Notre Dame and Saint Mary's College of Terry Riley's Sun Rings.

Visit the conference website for a detailed schedule of events, biographies of presenters, and links to performance artists. If you are interested in attending the conference, please register online here.

List of Guest Presenters:

Jonathan Q. Berryman – Director of Music at Messiah Baptist Church

Dr. Lorenzo Candelaria – University of Texas-El Paso

Shawn Crouch -  Founding Director of the Miami Choral Academy

Dr. Brent Gault – Associate Professor of Music Education, Indiana University Jacobs School of Music

Dr. Mary Goetze – Professor Emerita, Indiana University; Founder of the Indiana University Children's Choir

Josephine Lee – President and Artistic Director of the Chicago Children's Choir

Melanie Malinka – Director of Music; The Madeleine Choir School

Sue Ellen Page - Director of Choirs for Children and Youth; Nassau Presbyterian Church

Carolyn Pirtle - Assistant Director of the Center for Liturgy; University of Notre Dame

Benjamin Saunders - Director of Music at Leeds Cathedral; Diocesan Director of Music. Diocese of Leeds, UK

Jan Schmidt – Executive Director of American Federation of Pueri Cantores

Lauren Southard - Director of Outreach and Early Childhood Programs, Indianapolis Children's Choir

Co-hosts and Presenters

Dr. Margot Fassler – Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy; Director of the Program in Sacred Music, University of Notre Dame

Dr. Mark Doerries  - Artistic Director of the Notre Dame Children’s Choir, Post-Doctoral Fellow of Interdisciplinary Conducting; Sacred Music at Notre Dame












Saturday March 1, 2014


9:30AM - SESSION 3: Rethinking Choral Music Education in a Sacred Music Context

  1.  Maleine Malinka 
  2. Brent Gault 
  3. Shawn Crouch 
  4. Josephine Lee 


12:30-2:00PM: LUNCH – McKenna Hall Ballroom


2:30PM - SESSION 4New Initiatives in Catholic Children’s Music

  1. Jan Schmidt
  2. Benjamin Saunders
  3. Mark Doerries


5:30-7:00PM, DINNER: Morris Inn Ballroom


7:30PM, PERFORMANCE: Kronos Quartet, Sun Rings, Terry Riley, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center.