The Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians came to Oakland for the first time for its annual conference Jan. 6-9.

Two concerts were part of the festivities. The first celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Conroy Memorial Organ in the Cathedral of Christ the Light with a recital by concert organist and composer David Briggs. The second featured 21st-century music in a 21st-century cathedral.

Among the speakers and workshops at the event, which drew musicians from across the country — including Easterners and Midwesterners pleased to experience some California sunshine — was the bishop of the 21st-century urban cathedral in which they were guests, as Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ, offered his “vision for what the Catholic Church has to give for this city, this state, this world.”

“My vision, my goal, my marching orders, what I believe in,” Bishop Barber said, “(is) that the Roman Catholic Church, as an institution, also as a diocese, as a parish, a cathedral, (could) create the place where people can encounter Jesus and where He encounters them.” He spoke to the three priorities he has for the Diocese of Oakland: the Sunday experience; the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; and forming missionary disciples.

The elements of the Sunday experience include sacred music; homily; and hospitality.

“The cathedral is an integral part of the Sunday experience,” Bishop Barber said. “The goal of my worship here at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, is that people be able to experience the holy, the holiness of God, that when they come to Mass they experience Jesus Christ, and are raised up to experience Him, especially through the music and the reverence of the music.”

He suggested cathedral musicians can hold workshops for pastoral musicians.

The “21st-Century Music in a 21st- Century Cathedral” concert had the rare honor of having the three composers under the same roof.

The Cathedral Camerata opened the program, dedicated to the memory of Rev. Paul Minnihan, the first provost of the Cathedral of Christ the Light, with Missa Brevis, composed in 2019 by John Karl Hirten. John Renke played the organ.

The choir moved to Ave Maria, which was composed in 2009 by Frank LaRocca to commemorate his return to the Catholic Church. He is the composer in residence at the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy in San Francisco. His most recent work, Mass of the Americas, debuted on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2018 in San Francisco and was presented in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception last November.

The third piece was Requiem, composed in 2003, by Briggs. The Requiem was part of the All Souls Day Mass in 2017 and 2019.

Full story at Catholic Voice Oakland.