sms_logo_900x642Sacred Music Symposium 2017

A National Gathering of Church Musicians
May 10, 11 & 12, 2017

Tabernacle Presbyterian Church
418 East 34th Street
Indianapolis, Indiana 46205

The Second Annual 2017 Sacred Music Symposium will bring together top sacred music professionals for a gathering of professional growth and enhancement.  The symposium welcomes music ministers and choir members from all denominations wanting to share ideas and learn how to motivate and revive passion within the music ministry of their local church.  Choral reading sessions will be presented by major publishers featuring their best in sacred choral and handbell repertoire.  Each evening will feature a special program featuring guest musicians.  You will also be invited to join us for a special presentation of a major choral selection on Friday evening with the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra and The Sanctuary Choir of Tabernacle Presbyterian.  Details on how you can participate will be shared when your registration for the symposium is received.

Cost and Registration

Registration is open until May 9, 2017

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Or, click here to download a printable registration form (PDF)

$200 Full Registration, includes meals (Wednesday dinner, Thursday/Friday lunch & dinner) and reading session music packet

$125 Student Registration, includes meals and reading session music packet

$100 Spouse Add-on, includes meals but does not include reading session music packet

Registration deadline is April 28, 2017


There are a number of hotels in the Indianapolis area, but special arrangements have been made with the Hampton Inn Indianapolis, 105 S. Meridian Street, Indianapolis.  Please click the link below to find out more information and to reserve your room:

Please reference our group name: Tabernacle Presbyterian Church-Sacred Music Symposium

Hotel telephone:  317-261-1200

Shuttle Service between the Hampton Inn and the Symposium

Wednesday: 12:00 noon pick-up at the Hotel, 9:00p depart from the Symposium
Thursday: 8:45a pick-up at the Hotel, 7:00p & 9:00p depart from the Symposium
Friday: 8:45a pick-up at the Hotel, 10:00p depart from the Symposium



dan-andersenDan Andersen

Warming Up Your Church Choir: How to Get More from Your Aging Voices
This session will explore some of the issues of the aging voice, including vocal and musical limitations. We will discuss the importance of warm-ups and will look at (and participate in) a typical weekly warm-up. We will also discuss how to get your choir members to “buy in” to this warm-up time. You will also be given a sample yearlong warm-up plan.

Warming Up Your Adolescent Voices: A “How-To Guide”
In this “Nuts-And-Bolts” session we will explore the issues and challenges of the adolescent voice. We will discuss such topics as why we warm up, a basic warm up outline, and some common mistakes we all make. We will examine, and sing through, many different exercises that address a variety of vocal challenges. Also, we will explore which keys and ranges work best, or not at all, for your 6th, 7th and 8th grade choirs. You will leave with a clear plan for building your young voices in a healthy efficient way.

Dan Andersen is in his thirty-fourth year of teaching. He is a graduate of Indiana Purdue University in Fort Wayne where he studied voice with Dr. Joe Meyers and conducting with Mr. John Loessi. Mr. Andersen taught high school choir for eighteen years and is in his sixteenth year of teaching middle school choir at Center Grove Middle School Central in Greenwood, IN. At the high school level his choirs were well known throughout the Midwest, consistently receiving first division ratings at Concert Choir, Vocal Jazz and Show Choir Contests. His Middle School choirs have also received superior ratings at ISSMA competitions as well as being featured three times at the IMEA State Convention.

Dan has also been involved in church music for over 35 years. He has served as choir director and director of music at numerous churches in Northeast and Central Indiana. He has also served as tenor soloist/section leader in a number of churches.

He is a member of NAfME and a life member of the American Choral Directors Association. Currently he serves as the Middle School Repertoire and Resource Chair for the Central Division ACDA. He is active as a clinician, festival conductor and judge in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Illinois. He has served as guest conductor for the Indiana All-State Vocal Jazz Choir, Indiana All-State Middle School Honor Choir, and the Kentucky All-State Junior High Honor Choir. He was also the Vocal Jazz Ensemble director at the Indiana University Summer Music Clinic for 12 years.

He has many former students who are actively involved in careers in music, many in education.


burkardtMichael Burkhardt

May I Have This Dance?
This workshop for organists will focus on realizing the dances contained within hymns with the voice, with the body, and at the keyboard.  Core principles of the Alexander Technique will be shared and experienced.

Creating for the Keyboard
This workshop will provide an introduction to as well as foundational principles and practices for hymn-based improvisation.

Internationally known for his innovative and inspiring hymn festivals and for his creative work with children, Michael Burkhardt is in frequent demand as a choral clinician, organ recitalist, and hymn festival leader.

He holds the positions of Artist-Professor of Organ at Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, and Cantor at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Livonia, Michigan, as well as Artistic Director of hearts, hands and voices Worship and Fine Arts Program. From 2001-2007 he served on the faculty of Carthage College (ELCA) in Kenosha, WI, as Director of Choral Activities, College Organist, and Artist in Residence.  Prior to his appointment at Carthage, he was a Faculty Associate in organ at Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.  In addition, he has served Christ College Irvine (LCMS), Irvine, CA, as College Organist and head of studies in church music and music education, and Luther Seminary, St. Paul, MN, and Trinity Seminary, Columbus, OH, as Guest Lecturer in their Master of Sacred Music programs.

Dr. Burkhardt is a graduate of Carthage College, Kenosha, WI.  He earned his M.M. degree from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX, and his DMA degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.  He has performed and led seminars at both national and regional events for the American Guild of Organists, the Hymn Society, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts, and the American Choral Directors Association. Since 2003 he has made six performance-teaching tours to South Korea and Singapore. He will return to Singapore in March of 2017.

Dr. Burkhardt is author of numerous organ improvisations, choral octavos and handbell compositions, as well as educational methods and resources published by MorningStar Music Publishers, Choristers Guild, Concordia Publishing House, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, GIA Music Publishers, and the American Guild of English Handbell Ringers.

dobrinski-webCynthia Dobrinski


Cynthia Dobrinski is well-known as a composer, arranger, and handbell clinician.  Her compositions number more than 200 and are performed and recorded regularly by handbell choirs around the world.  She has won a number of composition contests and was named Kansas Composer of the Year.  Cynthia has conducted and taught many festivals and workshops across the United States, Canada, Asia, South America and Europe, including sessions for numerous colleges and universities, the World conference of the International Society for Music Education, the International Handbell Symposium, the International Church Music Festival and leadership training for the major church denominations.

Cynthia earned her BM degree from Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, and her MM degree from Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois.  As a Fulbright Scholar, she studied organ and harpsichord in Cologne, Germany.

Cynthia taught handbells and organ for 15 years at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, where she was in charge of three handbell courses in the graduate music school and trained students from all over the world.  Many of these students took the art of handbell ringing back to their home countries and became pioneers in establishing handbell programs.

Active in the Handbell Musicians of America, Cynthia has served as Chairman, Past Chairman and Secretary/Treasurer of Area IX.

Pavel Polanco-Safadit

Incorporating Jazz and Gospel in a Worship Service

Jazzy Handbells

Pavel Polanco-Safadit, Dominican born pianist, was offered a scholarship to come to the U.S. to study music with Alan Chow, currently Professor of Music at Northwestern University. Pavel met Mr. Chow

after a concert he performed in his native Dominican Republic and was fortunate to take several piano lessons from him following his appearance. Mr. Chow, then Professor of Music at he University of Arkansas, offered Pavel a full scholarship to the University of Arkansas.

After finishing his Bachelor of Music at The University of Arkansas, Pavel moved to Kentucky where he earned a Master of Music in composition. Subsequently, Pavel was traveling in Europe and throughout the United States playing jazz, salsa and Latin jazz and making a living playing and writing his own compositions. An opportunity to enter the doctorate program in composition at The University of Wisconsin-Madison became available he accepted it enthusiastically.

Now a 2013 Chicago Music Awards nominee for best performer, Director of the Jazz program at Earlham College, artist director of FIESTA INDIANAPOLIS, part of the Indy Jazz Fest and the International Market Place; also the director of music at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church and world renown Latin and jazz pianist, Pavel Polanco-Safadit, has appeared as a performer and educator in numerous television, radio shows, magazines, and newspapers here in the USA and overseas, such as: Listin Diario Newspaper, La Hora, Ene Magazine, Indianapolis Star, NUVO, Indy Jazz Radio, Venezuela Jazz Radio, Germany Jazz Radio, England Jazz Radio, Toronto Jazz Radio, Vacilon (New York), Dominican Jazz Radio. Costa Rica National Radio, WISH TV, Channel 6, Channel 13, City 360 TV, Digital 16 in New York and Dominican Republic. National Public Radio, and Puerto Rico National TV. JUST TO NAME A FEW.

Also Pavel is an international performer and educator appearing on the biggest stages in USA, Europe, and Latin America. Indy Jazz Fest, FIESTA, Boricua Fest, Cuban Fest, Panama Jazz Festival, Dominican Jazz Festival, Summer Fest, Just to name a few.

Pavel has performed with the biggest names in jazz such as Dave Valentin, Peter Erskine, Max Weinberg, Michael Spiro, Roscoe Mitchell, and Richard Davis. Also with artist such as Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez’s bands, Hector Tricoche and Sergio George.

Pavel has had numerous appearances in symphonic orchestras, such as the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra. Pavel has also appeared in symphonic choirs as a guest conductor. Pavel was recently asked to participate in performing live in a commercial to promote NFL Monday Night Football.

Pavel’s passion besides his music career is to serve the community by helping educating the youths. Pavel teaches five summer camps for at risk youth in Indianapolis including his own, “Rhythms of the World Inter Faith Summer Camp.” Pavel Polanco-Safadit also is part of an international cultural exchange program from young adults called “ONE ON ONE.”

rao-webDoreen Rao

Singing and Conducting as Sacred Practice I
What constitutes sacred practice?  In a rehearsal style workshop, Doreen Rao will introduce a wide range of sacred choral music as the basis for exploring the cultivation of awareness, the skills of deep listening, and the powers reverence, receptivity and attention.

Singing and Conducting as Sacred Practice II
In a demonstration rehearsal style workshop, Doreen Rao will explore the characteristics of sacred practice as “listening heart,” quiet mind, spiritually driven choices and relationship-making.

Doreen Rao is celebrated internationally for her moving concerts and inspirational teaching. Her pioneering career changed the landscape of music education in America. Linking the standards of performance and the goals of education with the values of diversity and social responsibility, Rao’s seminal work teaching children to sing inspired a generation of conductors and teachers to lead young choirs in schools and communities around the world.

She founded The Rao Center for Choral and Contemplative Arts in 2014 to mentor emerging conductors, singers and music educators in the practice of mindfulness-based conducting and choral teaching. She is the author of Circle of Sound–a Contemplative Approach to Voice Education which serves as the philosophical and practical foundation for her mindfulness-based approach to conducting and teaching.

Doreen Rao holds the University of Toronto Elmer Iseler Chair in Conducting Emeritus. During her tenure as Director of Choral Programs, Rao founded Toronto’s International Bach Festival with Bach conductor-scholar Helmuth Rilling. She led the Faculty of Music’s graduate program in choral conducting with Canada’s Elmer Iseler Singers as University Artists-in-Residence. Her award-winning MacMillan Singers and Bach Festival Singers performed and broadcast regularly with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestros Rilling, Peter Oundjian, Gianandrea Noseda, and Bernard Labadie. Toronto music critic Robert Everett-Green wrote: “For Rao, every note has an urgent meaning, not just within the composition, but within the wider world.”

From 2008, Rao served as Music Director of the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus, working in close collaboration with the Grammy Award-winning conductor JoAnn Falletta. Rao conducted numerous choral concerts with the Buffalo Philharmonic and Chautauqua Institute Symphony Orchestras. For her inspirational leadership in Western New York, Rao was named Buffalo Woman of Influence. In 2012 she was honored to be named Music Director of the Year by the WNY Gospel Music Association. Rao currently serves as Artistic Director of the Buffalo Master Chorale in association with Buffalo Niagara Choirs, Inc., an urban community of adult and youth choruses.

During Rao’s association with the Chicago Symphony Chorus and Orchestra, she prepared the Glen Ellyn Children’s Chorus (now Anima Young Singers) for concerts and four Grammy Award-winning recordings. She also served as Assistant Conductor to Margaret Hillis, preparing the Symphony Chorus for Sir Georg Solti, Claudio Abbado, James Levine, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. Her choirs performed regularly with Leonard Slatkin and the St. Louis Symphony, the Grant Park Orchestra, and with Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival.

Rao is the Founder-Director of CME Institute for Choral Teacher Education, a professional development and choral certification program for emerging conductors and choral music teachers. Her distinguished history of commissioning and premiering new choral music has championed a new generation of American and Canadian composers.

As editor and choral advisor to music publisher Boosey & Hawkes, Rao’s award-winning Choral Music Experience series of music and educational textbooks helped set the standards for quality concert repertoire for music education.

Rao regularly conducts choral festivals, music conferences, and special events worldwide. She received the prestigious Harold A. Decker Award, presented by the Illinois-ACDA to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the field of choral music. The Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia awarded Rao their National Citation for her “significant and lasting contribution to the cause of American music.” The American Choral Directors Association has honored Rao for her “commitment to choral excellence” and a CBS television documentary called her musical achievements “extraordinary.”

Doreen Rao was taught by beloved teachers, Harold Decker and Colleen Kirk, at the University of Illinois. She earned her PhD from Northwestern University and was generously mentored by Margaret Hillis and Robert Shaw during the formative years of her career. Doreen lives in Chicago where she enjoys a vibrant urban lifestyle with family and friends while continuing to conduct and teach worldwide.

Symposium Schedule

Subject to Change


Wednesday, May 10

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Registration Opens, Vendors & Refreshments, McKee Hallway & Gallery

1:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Welcome, Introductions & Announcements, McKee Chapel

1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Workshops

Doreen Rao (Singing and Conducting as Sacred Practice I)

Cynthia Dobrinski (Workshop #1)

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

2:45 p.m.  – 3:45 p.m. Workshops

Doreen Rao (Singing and Conducting as Sacred Practice II)

Michael Burkhardt (May I Have This Dance?)

3:45 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Publisher Reading Session – Beckenhorst, McKee Chapel

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Workshops

Cynthia Dobrinski (Workshop #2)

Dan Andersen (Warming Up Your Church Choir)

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Dinner (included with registration), Dining Room

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Evening Program with Michael Burkhardt, Sanctuary

8:00 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Festival Choir Rehearsal, Parlor


Thursday, May 11

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Registration, Vendors & Refreshments, McKee Hallway and Gallery

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Morning Worship, McKee Chapel

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Workshops

Cynthia Dobrinski (Workshop #1)

Doreen Rao (Singing and Conducting as Sacred Practice I)

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Publisher Reading Session – MorningStar, McKee Chapel

12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch  (included with registration), Dining Room

1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra Rehearsal, Sanctuary

1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Workshops

Doreen Rao (Singing and Conducting as Sacred Practice II)

Cynthia Dobrinski (Workshop #2)

2:15 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Publisher Reading Session – H. W. Gray, McKee Chapel

3:30 p.m.  – 3:45 p.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

3:45 p.m.  – 4:45 p.m. Workshops

Michael Burkhardt (Creating at the Keyboard)

Dan Andersen (Warming Up Your Adolescent Voices)

4:45 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Festival Choir Rehearsal, Parlor

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Dinner (included with registration), Dining Room

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. Festival Choir Rehearsal with The Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Sanctuary


Friday, May 12

9:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. Registration, Vendors & Refreshments, McKee Hallway and Gallery

9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. Morning Worship, McKee Chapel

10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. Workshops

Dan Andersen (Warming Up Your Church Choir)

Pavel Polanco-Safadit (Integrating Gospel & Jazz in Worship)

11:00 a.m. – 11:15 a.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

11:15 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. Workshops

Dan Andersen (Warming Up Your Adolescent Voices)

Pavel Polanco-Safadit (Jazzy Handbells)

Michael Burkhardt (May I Have This Dance)

12:15 p.m. – 1:15 p.m. Lunch  (included with registration), Dining Room

1:15 p.m. – 2:15 p.m. Publisher Reading Session – Hinshaw Music, McKEe Chapel

2:15 p.m. – 3:15 p.m. Workshops

Pavel Polanco-Safadit (Integrating Gospel & Jazz in Worship)

Dan Andersen (Warming Up Your Church Choir)

3:15 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Break, Vendors & Refreshments, Gallery

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Workshop

Pavel Polanco-Safadit (Jazzy Handbells)

3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Final Festival Choir Rehearsal, Parlor

5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. Panel Discussion with the Clinicians, McKee Chapel

6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Dinner  (included with registration), Dining Room

6:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Festival Choir Warm-Up, McKee Chapel

7:30 p.m. Festival Concert, Sanctuary

9:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. Concert Reception

Contact Information

For more information about the Sacred Music Symposium please contact Matt Kauffman at 317.923.5458 x102, email