Greetings Sacred Music Alumni/ae!
I hope to see you in a few weeks for the upcoming M.S.M. reunion in Dallas. Since my “retirement” in 2017 and move to Richmond, Virginia —nearer grandchildren— it has been my delight to continue work with Marcell Steuernagel and Chris Anderson on the development of the growing Doctor of Pastoral Music program. This work gives me the opportunity to come to campus a few times a year and see old friends.
During my 25 years at SMU, the graduate church music landscape changed significantly. The number of accredited (ATS and NASM) sacred music programs drastically and regretfully declined. However, we gather joyfully to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the sacred music program on March 9-11. Sacred Music is thriving at SMU due to the founding vision of the joint Perkins and Meadows School of the Arts relationship, its faculty, the continuing relationship between the two programs, and, above all, the quality of graduates over these six decades.
When I came to SMU in 1992, I was privileged to participate in a legacy of alumni/ae that welcomed, encouraged and gave me helpful counsel. It was my joy to get to know founding figures such as Lloyd Pfautsch and Robert Anderson, as well as other influential luminaries including Jane Marshall and Carlton (Sam) Young. While I never directly met Roger Deschner, I saw him from a distance when teaching at Perkins in the Church Music Summer School in 1990 (One had to look quickly as Roger was always on the move!) and feel as if we communed regularly since I occupied his office, maintaining the high level of “organization” of that space to which Roger had aspired.
Rich legacies are important, but the future is not assured by a strong tradition. I am pleased that Dean Craig Hill filled the vacancy left by my retirement with Marcell. Given the recent track record of closing programs, this was a bold move and a tribute to your ministries. This reunion is important for not only the fellowship and the significant guest presenters who will join us, but it is essential that we have your input on the future of graduate church music education. The vocation is just as vital as ever, but the church and cultures within which we work are always changing. You have insights we need to hear.
Registration closes in less than a month, on March 1. There is nothing comparable to a gathering of Perkins sacred music alumni/ae! Please visit our website for more information and to register: smu.edu/msmreunion
See you soon.
Director, Doctor of Pastoral Music Program
University Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Church Music
Perkins School of Theology