Sacred Music Symposium 2018

A National Gathering of Church Musicians
September 12, 13 and 14, 2018

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

The Third Annual 2018 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

Register before June 1, 2018 to get the Early Bird price!

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$200 Adult Attendee, includes meals (Wednesday dinner, Thursday/Friday lunch & dinner) and reading session music packets. (Adult Attendee price after June 1, 2018 is $250, so register today!)

$125 Student Registration, includes meals and reading session music packets.

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

Registration deadline is August 31, 2018



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.

Tap here for information and to make a reservation at the Hampton Inn.

You may register for the Symposium now and reserve a hotel at a later date.

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

Hotel telephone:  317-261-1200



Dan Forrest

Dan Forrest (b. 1978) has been described as having “an undoubted gift for writing beautiful music….that is truly magical” (NY Concert Review), with works hailed as “magnificent, very cleverly constructed sound sculpture” (Classical Voice), and  “superb writing…full of spine-tingling moments” (Salt Lake Tribune). Since his first publication in 2001, Dan’s music has sold two million copies, and is well established in the repertoire of choirs in the U.S. and abroad.


Dan’s choral works have received numerous awards and distinctions, including the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer’s Award, the ACDA Raymond Brock Award, a Meet The Composer grant, the ALCM Raabe Prize, and many others. His “A Basque Lullaby” for wind band has been selected for performance at numerous conventions and festivals in the U.S. and internationally. His commissioned choral works have been premiered in major venues around the world, ranging from the World Choral Symposium (Argentina) to Izumi Hall (Osaka, Japan) to Carnegie Hall, the Lincoln Center, the Kennedy Center, and national ACDA conventions. His music has been broadcast multiple times on American Public Media’s “Performance Today”. His Requiem for the Living has quickly become his best-known work, having received overwhelming acclaim since its 2013 premiere, and continues to be performed in North America and around the world. His new major work, Jubilate Deo (2016) is now receiving similar critical acclaim.

Dan is highly active in the music publishing industry, both in concert choral music (maintaining a choral series in his name with Hinshaw Music) and in church choral music (serving as associate editor at Beckenhorst Press), and has published with more than a dozen publishers. He has adjudicated numerous regional and national composition contests. Dan keeps a full schedule of commissions, workshops, recordings, adjunct professorships, and residencies with universities, churches, and community ensembles, collaborating as accompanist, presenting his music, and teaching composition and music theory.

Dan holds a doctoral degree in composition from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in piano performance. His academic background includes several years as a professor and department head (music theory and composition) in higher education.  More information about Dan and his work can be found at

James Biery

James Biery is Minister of Music and Organist at Grosse Point Memorial Church in Grosse Point Farms, Michigan. He grew up in Nebraska and earned Bachelor and Master of Music degrees from Northwestern University. He also holds the Fellowship certificate of the American Guild of Organists, winning the prize for receiving the highest score on the examination in 1986. Before coming to Grosse Pointe, he directed music programs at Catholic cathedrals in Hartford, Connecticut, and St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a published ASCAP composer with many pieces of organ and choral music sung and played in churches across the country.

His wife, Marilyn, is also an accomplished organist, church musician, and published composer; in addition, she enjoys hymn text writing. They have one daughter, Laura, who graduated from the University of Chicago in 2012.

Kevin McChesney

Kevin McChesney graduated with highest honors from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a BMus in Composition and Theory. A composer and arranger of handbell music, Kevin currently has over 450 titles in print and is one of the very few musicians who makes handbells a full time vocation. He has won numerous awards for his work, including American Guild of English Handbell Ringers Composition Contests and Jeffers Composer of the Year.

Kevin was a church music director in Methodist and Presbyterian churches for twelve years. For five years, he was also accompanist and co director for the vocal music department at Air Academy High School, where he co directed a major production each fall season for eleven years.

Kevin is currently the handbell editor for Jeffers Handbell Supply and the RingingWord catalog. He directs an auditioned community handbell choir, the Pikes Peak Ringers. He is also co founder of the Solo To Ensemble Project, STEP, and authors a quarterly newsletter containing instruction and information for handbell programs, the Handbell Classroom. He is in demand throughout the handbell world as a workshop clinician and festival conductor.

Kevin lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his wife Tracy and their cats, Belle and Grace Note.

Ruth Dwyer

Ruth E. Dwyer is internationally recognized as a treble and children’s choir specialist and Kodály educator.  She has been the guest conductor for the OAKE National Children’s Choir, numerous ACDA All-State Choirs and Honor Choirs. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Hoosier Hills Choral Festival in Southern Indiana and (Philanthropy Through Song) choral festivals supporting anti-drunk driving education.  She is a frequent guest conductor with the MidAmerica Productions and the New England Symphonic Wind Ensemble.  She has recently traveled to São Paulo, Brazil to teach and conduct the GRAN FINALE XIII Festival Nacional de Corais Infantis e Jovens.

Mrs. Dwyer has been a conductor and Director of Education with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir for 29 years.  She is celebrating her 22nd year as the Artistic Director of the Columbus Indiana Children’s Choir, a co-operative effort of the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic Orchestra and the Indianapolis Children’s Choir.  Her ensembles have performed for the Indiana Music Educators Association, the AOSA National Conference, in New York City’s Carnegie Hall and David Geffen Hall at Lincoln Center, across the USA and throughout Spain and Central Europe.   She has prepared ensembles for performances with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Butler Nutcracker,  Indianapolis Opera and numerous other organizations.

Mrs. Dwyer served the State of Indiana for 19 years as a public school music educator.  Her teaching experiences include all levels of music instruction from 3 year olds to post graduate students.  She has received the Columbus Indiana Philharmonic Golden Baton Award, the IMEA Elementary Music Teacher of the Year, the Hoosier Musician award and the Indianapolis Public Schools Rising Star award.  She is an accomplished choral composer, arranger and editor.

Mrs. Dwyer has authored two curriculum books for ICC and is a frequent guest author for the Hal Leonard choral textbooks series.  She is composer and editor for the Ruth Dwyer Choral Series @ Colla Voce.  Mrs. Dwyer also teaches at Butler University and works as a studio conductor for The Choristers Guild.

Ruth E. Dwyer is a graduate of Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She enjoys traveling, reading and gardening.

Dan Andersen

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.


Pavel Polanco-Safadit

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.”

Contact Information

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