"We Sing the Faith"

500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Hymn Festival

4pm and 7pm, October 15



4pm and 7pm, Sunday, October 15

Helzberg Hall

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts

1601 Broadway
Kansas City, MO 64108


FREE community hymn festival featuring timeless hymns
and choir anthems interspersed with readings of Martin Luther.



Dr. Jeffrey Blersch, organist, Concordia University Nebraska in Seward
Dr. Elisa Bickers, organist, Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, KS
Mass Festival Choir
Brass and Percussion from the Kansas City Symphony
Ben A. Spalding, conductor, Director of Music and the Arts, Trinity Lutheran Church


Ticket Information

FREE reservations at www.kauffmancenter.org or by calling 816.994.7222. There will be a limit of four tickets per transaction.


Sponsored by congregations of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod

Call for LCMS Choral Participants

Adult Choir


  1. The choir is open to anyone from high school to senior citizens.
  2. The 7pm performance of the hymn festival sold out so quickly that our planning committee decided to add a matinee performance on October 15 at 4 pm.
  3. Participating choir members DO NOT need to reserve tickets for either performance.
  4. We are asking choir members to sing both the 4pm and 7pm services if at all possible.
  5. REGISTRATION: An exact count of names/voice parts of participating choir members is needed from each director no later than Friday, September 15 by 5pm. Kauffman Center security is very tight and we need to have a very detailed roster to provide them. If you are an individual interested in singing, you need to RSVP individually to Ben Spalding at bens@tlcms.org by Friday, September 15, by 5:00 pm.

    Updated Information!

  6. Choir Rehearsal: Sunday, October 8, 2:30-5:00 pm | Bethany Lutheran Church, 9101 Lamar Ave, Overland Park, KS 66207.
  7. NEW TIME: Choir and Brass Rehearsal: Saturday, October 14, 2:00-5:00 pm | Bethany Lutheran Church, 9101 Lamar Ave, Overland Park, KS 66207.
  8. Sound Check Rehearsal: Sunday, October 15, 2:00 pm | Helzberg Hall | Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts | 1601 Broadway, Kansas City, MO 64108.
  9. There will be a dinner/rest break from approximately 5:15-6:45 pm that day. You are encouraged to bring food with you to the hall to eat backstage.
  10. We are asking choir members to wear festival RED for the event. Singers are asked to come dressed to the sound check on October 15 as there will not be time to change.
  11. Music: The festival choir will be singing the following pieces and we are asking each choir or individual to purchase the music:
    • Choir Anthem: “A Festival of Psalms: Psalm 46” – John Ness Beck. Beckenhorst Press 1153. $2.25 per copy. There will be a cut from mm. 118-176. (There was a typo in the original message, make sure the cut is mm. 118-176)
    • Choir Anthem: “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” – arr. Mack Wilberg. Oxford University Press. $2.80 per copy.
    • Choir Anthem: “Amazing Grace” – arr. Keith McCutchen | Earthsongs S-200. $1.85 per copy. The first verse will be a solo.
    • Congregational Festival Setting: “Thy Strong Word” – arr. Carl Schalk. Concordia Publishing 98-3881. $1.50 per copy. The descants will be sung by a small group.
    • Congregational Festival Setting: “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” – arr. Jeffrey Blersch.  Concordia Publishing 977746. $3.25 per copy. The descant will be sung by a small group.
  12. Obtaining Music: Since we had so much interest in the Festival Choir all the extra copies of music I ordered have been taken. Therefore, extra packets WILL NOT be available at the first rehearsal. You will be responsible for your own music.
  13. The choir will also be leading several congregational hymns from Lutheran Service Book.
  14. Finally, if your church has not sent a donation please consider financially supporting this event as well with a suggested donation of $500. This will greatly help the costs associated with a major production of this kind especially with the added matinee performance. Any amount is very helpful. Checks can be made out to Trinity Lutheran Church | 5601 W. 62nd St., Mission, KS 66202 and will be kept in a dedicated account for the Hymn Festival.


Dr. Jeffrey Blersch

Professor of Music, University Organist
Concordia University Nebraska at Seward

Jeffrey Blersch is a graduate of the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music where he received degrees in organ performance and music education, and of the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where he earned the Doctor of Musical Arts in Organ Performance. His principal teachers have included Roberta Gary, Garth Peacock, and Marilyn Mason. Prior to his appointment at Concordia, Dr. Blersch served as Cantor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Peoria, Ill., Associate Professor of Music at Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich, and as an elementary music specialist in the Brunswick City Schools, Brunswick, Ohio.

Blersch has been an active church musician since being appointed organist of Peace Lutheran Church, Cincinnati, Ohio, at age eight. Best known for his creative hymn interpretations, he regularly performs recitals and hymn festivals across the United States. Recent appearances have included hymn festivals at The Meyerson Symphony Center, Dallas, and conventions of the American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, National Association of Pastoral Musicians.

Blersch is also an active composer; over one hundred of his compositions and collections are published exclusively with Concordia Publishing House and four of his original hymn tunes are included in Lutheran Service Book. He has produced two compact disc recordings of his original works: Resounding Alleluias and On Christmas Night, the latter of which was recorded on Concordia’s Casavant organ.

Blersch also serves as an organist and choir director at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Staplehurst, Neb. He and his wife Carla, also an organist, have three children, Aaron, Ryan, and Jenna.

From www.cune.edu/directory/people/blersch-jeffrey/

Dr. Elisa Bickers

Principal Organist and Associate Director of Music Ministry
Village Presbyterian Church

Elisa Williams Bickers (DMA, FAGO) is the associate director of music and principal organist at Village Presbyterian Church. She directs the Alegría young adult choir and the Village Ringers handbell ensemble. Additionally, she is the keyboardist for the Bach Aria Soloists, a Kansas City chamber music ensemble devoted to performing the works of Bach and composers inspired by him. She performs regularly in recital as a solo organist, harpsichordist, and accompanist, and has served on the faculties of the UMKC Conservatory and Washburn University as instructor of organ and harpsichord. She is the chair for New Music for the 2018 American Guild of Organists National Convention, and as such has been working with composers to commission new works for the pipe organ.

A native of Clinton, Maryland, Dr. Bickers began her organ studies with the Potomac Organ Institute. She has degrees in church music and organ performance from Texas Christian University and the University of Kansas. Her teachers have included Dale Krider, Joseph Butler and Michael Bauer.

Dr. Bickers received first prize and the hymn playing prize in the graduate division of the 2006 William Hall competition. In 2007, she was a quarter-finalist in the American Guild of Organists’ National Young Artists Competition in Organ Performance, and a semifinalist in the 2010 NYACOP. In 2009, she traveled to Lübeck, Germany to compete in the International Buxtehude Competition. She was awarded the 2009 Carlin Award for excellence in teaching, the highest honor possible for graduate students at KU.  In 2016, Dr. Bickers earned the Fellowship certification from the American Guild of Organists, one of the organization’s top honors.

Dr. Bickers makes her home in Overland Park with husband Rob and daughter Isabel.

From www.villagepres.org/music-staff.html

Ben A. Spalding

Conductor, Director of Music and the Arts
Trinity Lutheran Church, Mission and Shawnee, Kansas

Ben A. Spalding Ben is the Director of Music and the Arts for Trinity and oversees all liturgical, professional, and community Music and Arts programming and has built one of the most prestigious concert series and arts programs in the Kansas City area. He is a versatile musician, sought after as conductor, composer, and keyboard artist. Prior to joining Trinity’s staff in 2010, he held positions as an educator at the high school and university levels and has served in many denominations over the last 15 years.

Ben is the founder and artistic director of the Spire Chamber Ensemble, which is gaining a national reputation for excellence in choral performances. He received undergraduate degrees in voice and piano from Emporia State University and two Master’s Degrees in conducting and composition from Rowan University. He was a student of renowned conductor and composer Z. Randall Stroope, and has also studied conducting with Terry Barham and Sir David Willcocks in Cambridge. Spalding is up and coming as a professional choral conductor, working with the best choral artists in the country and gaining a reputation as a fine interpreter of both early and contemporary repertoire. He is sought after as a clinician, most recently leading Festivals and Honor Choirs throughout the Midwest. Spalding is also active as a composer, regularly accepting commissions. As an educator, he has held positions at the high school and university levels.

He has been married to Stephanie since 2008, and they have a wonderful Yorkshire Terrier, Maestro.


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