Inspiring, educating and nurturing those
who minister through music and the arts

Conference 2019 Presenters/Workshop Leaders

More information is still to be added to this page.

John Behnke  - Handbells Director & workshops

Dr. John Behnke is the director of the Milwaukee Handbell Ensemble. He is also the Music Editor for AGEHR Music – Handbell Musicians of America. He is also Organist and Choir Director at Historic Trinity Ev. Lutheran Church in downtown Milwaukee, WI. Dr. Behnke is Emeritus Professor of Music at Concordia University of Mequon, WI, where he taught organ, graduate handbell courses, and directed The Alleluia Ringers, Concordia’s touring handbell choir for 29 years. He is a frequent handbell clinician and festival director. He enjoys composing and arranging having nearly 400 handbell, choral, and organ compositions in print with seventeen different publishers in the United States, Germany, and Taiwan.


Bruce Bengtson – Organ  Director & workshops

Bruce A. Bengtson has just retired after forty years as Director of Music at Luther Memorial Church in Madison, Wisconsin

Mr. Bengtson’s organ study was begun at the age of 11 with William Fawk of Salem, Oregon. Undergraduate work was in organ performance under Dr. Robert Anderson at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Graduate work in organ and church music was done at Valparaiso University with Dr. Philip Gehring.

Besides concerts in the United States, Mr. Bengtson has been featured in concerts in Mexico, Canada and Europe. The Lahti Organ Festival in Finland, Gävle Organ Week in Sweden, and the cathedrals of Paris, Salzburg, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Helsinki and Uppsala are among the European concert sites. Recitals have been played for the National Convention of the Organ Historical Society and for National Conferences of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians (ALCM). He has served as organist and clinician at national conferences of Chorister’s Guild and the Hymn Society of the U. S. and Canada, and is active in the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. As an accompanist for singers and instrumentalists, Mr. Bengtson has also been heard on Wisconsin Public Radio broadcasts. His anthems for choir and organ are available from Augsburg Fortress Publishing Company.


Richard Bruxvoort Colligan – Morning Vespers

Richard Bruxvoort Colligan is a psalmist making adventurous and imaginative music for the ever-evolving church. A composer and musician, he serves across denominations inviting a perspective of lifelong spiritual formation to community singing. He also loves dumb jokes and is always ready to hear one. He has recorded several albums of original worship music, and his hymns have been published by the UCC, ELCA, UMC and PCUSA.

Richard earned his M.A. in Theology and the Arts from United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities and is currently working on his DMin through Eden Seminary in St. Louis. Since 2004, his central vocation has been immersion in the Psalms, studying, teaching, singing and creating new congregational songs for all 150. He teaches Psalms at several seminaries, in workshop at events and local churches and he is the weekly Psalm Correspondent for the Pulpit Fiction podcast. 

More info and free listening at Worldmaking.net and PsalmImmersion.com.


Bryan Sirchio –  weaving social justice into worship with music

After experiencing a Christian "conversion of sorts"
(I never quite know how to refer to that experience!) when I was 17, I started writing songs that were expressive of the insights and joy I was experiencing as a new follower of Jesus, and this music ministry of mine has been unfolding one way or another pretty much ever since. I write and share songs that somehow offer snapshots of thoughts or feelings or experiences I've had as a person who is trying to take the life and teachings of Christ to heart. I've also done my best to take some of the biblical content that pastors and parents often want children and teens to memorize and to write some fun (i.e. silly/crazy!) songs that make it easy and fun to learn Bible stories and themes.

I am an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, and I served as pastor of two small UCC congregations in northern Wisconsin for almost 4 years (1983-1987). The two small churches in northern Wisconsin, and then lived in Three Lakes, WI for the first 6 years of my music ministry. In 1993 my family and I moved to Madison, WI, and I've been in Madison ever since.

I've traveled extensively since 1987 offering concerts, leading worship services and retreats, and offering keynote addresses at various regional and national conferences. I've also worked extensively with grass roots organizations among the poorest of the poor in Haiti since 1991. I've written many songs that have been born out of my experiences in Haiti, and you'll find them on quite a few of my CDs. I am a founding member and leader of an organization called Haiti Allies www.haitiallies.org. Haiti Allies supports education, meal programs, and job creation in Haiti, and we also bring groups to Haiti twice a year.

Both Richard and Bryan are part of the Convergence Music Project. CMP is about great new songs of all kinds and musical styles for worship that reflect the theology and transforming biblically based agenda at the heart of Convergence Christianity. More information can be found at www.convergencemp.com



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Albert Pinsonneault – Choral Director & workshops 

Albert Pinsonneault (PEN-son-oh) is Artistic Director of the Madison Choral Project, Madison's professional chamber choir. Dr. Pinsonneault is also Associate Director of Choral Organizations at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University, where he directs the University Singers and teaches graduate choral literature sequence. Additionally, he serves as Artistic Director of the Madison Chamber Choir, and was formerly Assistant Conductor of the Madison Symphony Chorus and Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Edgewood College.

In 2010 Dr. Pinsonneault co-founded the Madison Boychoir Festival, an annual day-festival for 400 young male singers in grades 2 to 12, and in 2008 he was the assistant producer of the Second National Convention of the National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Pinsonneault’s scholarship focuses on choral blend and intonation, the physical/kinesthetic act of conducting, and the music of F. Melius Christiansen. His published work Choral Intonation Exercises is available through Graphite Publishing.


Rev. Geoffrey Black – Wednesday worship preacher

The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black was elected General Minister and President of the United Church of Christ in June 2009. Rev. Black served in that role until retiring in 2015. Prior to that, he was Conference Minister of the UCC’s New York Conference (2000-2009). Black was previously a program staff member in the UCC’s Office for Church Life and Leadership.

During his career he has served as assistant chaplain at Brown University, associate minister at St. Albans (N.Y.) Congregational UCC, pastor of Congregational UCC of Hempstead, N.Y., lecturer in the Field Education Department of Union Theological Seminary in New York and protestant chaplain at Adelphi University.

Rev. Black brings a love of music to the conference. He is passionate about jazz music and how it might lead us in life, or even in our ministries.


Greg Zelek, pre-worship organ concert

Praised as “extraordinary in the classical music world” (Jon Hornbacher, PBS Wisconsin Life), Greg Zelek (26) is the Principal Organist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra and Curator of the Overture Concert Organ Series. In 2016, Greg was chosen by The Diapason magazine as one of the top “20 Under 30” organists, a feature which selects the most successful young artists in the field. Greg received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, as well as an Artist Diploma, from the Juilliard School as a student of Paul Jacobs. 


Jeff Rabe – recruiting and energizing children and youth to participate (musicals)

Jeff is Director of Christian Education for Children and Youth at First Congregational Church, Madison WI. A Lakeland College graduate, Jeff received his B.A. in Broadfield Social Studies/History. Jeff loves music, theatre, children's theatre, reading and gardeningJeff served on the Northeast  Association's Christian Education Committee, led youth leader workshops and confirmation retreats, was a member of the Arts Committee of the Wisconsin Conference, was a General Synod delegate and has directed MADD Camps (music, art, dance and drama) for junior and senior high youth at United Church Camps.


con vivo! music with life – chamber group performing Thursday night

con  vivo!...music with life is a professional chamber music ensemble founded in 2002 and comprised of seven core musicians who draw upon professional experience with the Madison Symphony, Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra and other regional performing groups to deliver dynamic and high-caliber performances. The ensemble’s home venue is First Congregational Church, Madison.




Ann Beaty – labyrinth


Susan Eaton Mendenhall – liturgical dance


Joy Schmidt – Dane County Aging and Disabilities Resource Center --  working with those dealing with dementia


Jessica Taft/Eldonna Hazen – liturgical art




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