Baylor University's Alleluia Conference July 19-22 Marks a Decade of Opportunities for Those in Sacred Music

July 8, 2011

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Church music ministers and choir directors from across the country will gather for the 10th annual Alleluia conference at Baylor University Tuesday, July 19, through Friday, July 22.

This year's event is a milestone, marking a decade of opportunity for those in sacred music ministry to refine their skills, fellowship with colleagues, enjoy concerts and find inspiration through worship, said Dr. Randall Bradley, Ben H. Williams Professor of Music and director of the church music program and The Center for Christian Music Studies in Baylor's School of Music.

"From coping with job loss, to working with untuned adult singers to creating choral sound to enhancing your worship set, Alleluia offers something for every musician who serves the church," Bradley said.

The event also offers members of the general public opportunity to hear free concerts.

Participants include composers, conductors, authors, songwriters, educators and practitioners in the United States and abroad. Nearly 300 people are expected to attend, said Melinda Coats, conference coordinator.

The conference began with five clinicians in 2002 and has grown to 22 this year. Among them are conductor Anton Armstrong of St. Olaf Choir in Northfield, Minn.; children's choirmaster, organist and Composer-in-Residence Michael Bedford of St. John's Episcopal Church in Tulsa, Okla.; worship theologian Harold M. Best, emeritus dean/professor of music at Wheaton College Conservatory of Music in Wheaton, Ill.; Charles Callahan, organist, award-winning composer and author of the Art of Hymn Playing; composer Joseph Martin, director of Sacred Publications for Shawnee Press Inc.; and Mary Kay Parrish, a handbell composer and clinician who received Oklahoma Baptist University's Alumni Achievement award.

Each year at the conference, a Baylor University graduate who has made a contribution to Christian music is honored. Receiving the Exemplary Service Award will be retired missionary and 1951 Baylor graduate Joan Riffey Sutton, who has composed, translated, arranged or collected a body of Christian music. She grew up as a missionary child in Brazil, and a gift of her archives launched Baylor's Music in Missions Collection.

"Joan Sutton played a pivotal role in the development of church music in Brazil," Bradley said. "She is known for her intelligence and careful attention to detail, and her translations of the masterworks Messiah and Elijah from English to Portuguese remain the preferred Portuguese versions. The sheer body of her work is enormous. Her work ethic, generous spirit and superb skill make her a model for other musicians of the church."

The Sutton archives include manuscripts, drafts, publications, accompanying documentation and notes, choral anthems, cantatas and and materials from a course that Sutton taught at the Baptist Seminary in Rio de Janeiro on translating and musical arranging.

The conference includes technical sessions on organ music, praise teams, music fundamentals, youth choirs, conducting, piano, technology, handbells, worship music, hymns and vocal technique. Among the topics addressed in breakout sessions will be introducing and using multi-media in smaller churches, transitioning a church toward contemporary music, teaching hymns to children, growing and maintaining a full-time ministry and coping with job loss.

Conference events will take place in the George W. Truett Theological Seminary, 1100 S. Third St., and in the Glennis McCrary Music Building, 110 Baylor Ave., both in Waco on the Baylor campus. The cost is $315 per person.

Conference concerts and other events open to the public include:


5:15-6 p.m. Youth Cue concert led by Billy Bob Dempsey, minister of music at First Baptist Church of Tyler, Paul W. Powell Chapel, Truett Seminary


10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Worship led by Swee Hong Lim, assistant professor of church music at Baylor, with preaching by Julie Pennington-Russell, lead pastor of First Baptist Church of Decatur, Ga., Powell Chapel, Truett Seminary

5:15-6 p.m. Student Concert, Powell Chapel, Truett Seminary.

7:30-8:45 p.m. Evening choir rehearsal with Anton Armstrong, conductor of St. Olaf Choir in Minnesota at Powell Chapel, Truett Seminary


10:30-11:30 a.m. Worship, led by Swee Hong Lim and Julie Pennington-Russell, Powell Chapel, Truett Seminary

7 p.m. Concert by Cynthia Clawson, Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, Powell Chapel, Truett.

To register, visit For a conference schedule, visit

For more information, contact Melinda Coats, Alleluia Conference coordinator, at (254) 710-2360.

Contact: Terry Goodrich, Assistant Director of Media Communications, (254) 710-3321

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