Growth & Purpose Through the Arts

Religious Arts Festival

Join us February 3-4, 2023 for our second annual Religious Arts Festival.

This two-day event is designed for both part-time and full-time church musicians seeking to broaden their knowledge and practical skills. An organ recital and masterclass will be given by James O'Donnell (Yale University and former director of music at Westminster Abbey).

Additional workshops in aspects of church music will be led by Michael Burkhardt (Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Livonia, Michigan).

The event is co-sponsored by Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (Fisher Endowment), the South Carolina Chapter of the Fellowship of Worship Artists and the Greater Columbia Chapter of the American Guild of Organists.

Registration Information

Registration and Deadline

  • $75 includes recitals, all classes and reception following the recital, Saturday continental breakfast and catered lunch.
  • Registration deadline in January 30, 2023
  • Discounted hotel accommodations for this event are available through Staybridge Suites, 1913 Huger Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201. Cut off for hotel registration at corporate rate is January 20, 2023.
  • Questions can be directed to Patrick Hawkins, DMA at


  • Friday, February 3, 2023

    Location: Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary

    3 p.m. 
    Alumni Hall

    3:30 p.m.
    Session 1 with Michael Burkhardt, DMA
    Alumni Hall

    4:15 p.m.

    4:30 p.m.
    Session 2 with Michael Burkhardt, DMA
    Alumni Hall

    5:15 p.m.
    Break for Dinner on Your Own

    7 p.m.
    Organ Recital by James O’Donnell
    Christ Chapel

    8:30 p.m.
    Reception with Light Finger Foods and Champagne
    Café, Student Union

  • Saturday, February 4, 2023

    Location: Shandon United Methodist Church

    8:30 a.m.
    Continental Breakfast
    Wesley Hall Kitchen

    9 a.m.
    Session 3 with Michael Burkhardt, DMA
    Wesley Hall

    10 a.m.
    Organ Masterclass with James O’Donnell

    11 a.m.

    11:15 a.m.
    Organ Masterclass or Seminar Topic
    Depending on masterclass participation, either continue the organ masterclass or have an additional seminar topic.

    12 p.m.
    Catered Lunch
    Wesley Hall

    1 p.m.
    Hymn Festival with Michael Burkhardt, DMA

    2:30 p.m.

    Michael Burkhardt Session Topics

    • Children’s Choir Techniques / Ideas
    • Children’s Choir Repertoire / Reading Session
    • A Whole Person Approach to Singing / Tips for Working with Aging Voices


  • Michael Burkhardt, DMA
    Michael Burkhardt

    Internationally known for innovative and inspiring hymn festivals and for creative work with children, Michael Burkhardt is in frequent demand as a choral clinician, organ recitalist, and hymn festival leader.

    Burkhardt is artist and professor of organ at Eastern Michigan University, professor of organ at Baldwin Wallace University, and founder and artistic director of hearts, hands and voices of the Worship and Fine Arts Program for Children in Southeast Michigan. From 2008-2017 Burkhardt served Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Livonia, Michigan, as music mentor and cantor and from 2001-2007 served on the faculty of Carthage College (ELCA) in Kenosha, Wisconsin, as director of choral activities, college organist and artist in residence. Prior to the appointment at Carthage, Burkhardt was a faculty associate in organ at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona. A graduate of Carthage College, Kenosha, WI, Michael earned the M.M. degree from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, and DMA. degree from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.

    He has performed and led seminars at both national and regional events for the American Guild of Organists, the Hymn Society, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts and the American Choral Directors Association, and since 2003 has made nine performance-teaching tours to South Korea and Singapore

    Burkhardt is author of “Part-Singing Global Style” (a resource focusing on sequential part-singing techniques in treble arrangements of global pieces), “Singing with Understanding” (a curriculum utilizing the great hymns, folksongs and spirituals of the Church to share faith stories and to teach the elements of music and worship), “Read ‘n Ring” (a graded curriculum for teaching literacy to and exploring musicianship for handbell/handchime ringers) and “Worship for the Young Child” (a worship resource providing engaging, inclusive worship experiences for young children with teaching guides) and “Creative Hymn Playing” (a hymn-based improvisation method-resource for organists).

    He is composer of three settings of the Eucharistic liturgy, “A New Song,” “Missa St. Andrew” and “Missa Mixolydian” as well as numerous organ improvisations, choral octavos and handbell compositions, available through MorningStar Music Publishers, E. C. Schirmer, Choristers Guild, Concordia Publishing House, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, GIA Music Publishers and AGEHR.

  • James O’Donnell
    James O'Donnell (Photo by Clare Clifford)
    Photo by Clare Clifford

    James O’Donnell is Organist and Master of the Choristers of Westminster Abbey. Internationally recognized as a conductor and organ recitalist, he has given concerts all over the world, including the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and throughout Europe, and appeared as organ soloist in the BBC Proms and at many other festivals. Recent engagements have included Poulenc’s Organ Concerto with the London Philharmonic Orchestra under Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the Royal Festival Hall, broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 and released on CD on the LPO Live label, and solo recitals in the United States, Germany, Norway, and the Netherlands.

    James O’Donnell was a junior exhibitioner at the Royal College of Music and subsequently Organ Scholar of Jesus College, Cambridge, where he read music and studied the organ with Peter Hurford, Nicolas Kynaston and, later, David Sanger. He was appointed first Assistant Master of Music and, six years later, Master of Music at Westminster Cathedral. During his twelve-year tenure as Master of Music, the Choir of Westminster Cathedral became one of the most highly regarded choirs in the world, winning many plaudits, including the Gramophone ‘Record of the Year’ award (for its Hyperion recording of masses by Frank Martin and Pizzetti in 1998), and the Royal Philharmonic Society award (1999), both of which were unprecedented for a Cathedral Choir.

    In January 2000 James O’Donnell was appointed Organist and Master of the Choristers at Westminster Abbey.  In addition to a full schedule of daily choral services, his responsibilities have included directing the music for a service in the presence of Pope Benedict XVI in 2010 and the Wedding of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011. In recent years the Abbey Choir’s external engagements have included tours to the Far East, the United States, Australia, Denmark, Germany, Russia, Spain, Hungary and two visits to Rome in 2012 and 2017 where the Abbey Choir sang in a historic partnership with the Sistine Chapel Choir at the Pope’s invitation.

    Alongside his responsibilities at the Abbey, James O’Donnell has worked widely as soloist and director with many of the United Kingdom’s leading orchestras and ensembles. In 2011 he became Music Director of St James’s Baroque. He is Visiting Professor of Organ and of Choral Conducting at the Royal Academy of Music, and in November 2010 he was Artist in Residence at Yale University in the U.S.A. He was awarded the papal honour of Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in 1999.  He received Honorary Membership of the Royal Academy of Music in 2002, and a Fellowship of the Royal College of Music in 2009. He was elected an Honorary Fellow of Jesus College, Cambridge in 2011 and received an Honorary Doctorate of Music from the University of Aberdeen in July 2013.

Featured Organs

These are specifications for the organs that will be used during the Religious Arts Festival. All organs are located in Columbia, South Carolina. 

Local Accommodations & Attractions

People walking down street through street market

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary and Shandon United Methodist Church are located in Columbia, the capital city and cultural center of South Carolina.

Discounted lodging is available through Staybridge Suites, 1913 Huger Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201. Cut off for hotel registration at corporate rate is January 20, 2023. Register at Staybridge Suite.

Find local hotels, restaurants, area attractions and events.

Explore Columbia, S.C.

COVID-19 Information

Please watch for communications from the university or seminary for any changes to the festival’s schedule of events.