St. Thomas' 33rd Annual Sacred Arts Festival Features Artists and Authors, Movies and Musicians

The University of St. Thomas Sacred Arts Festival, an annual series of events focusing on artistic traditions that articulate humanity's understanding of the divine, will feature five events this year that will be held in April.

The festival, which began at St. Thomas in 1980, traditionally presents a broad range of artistic forms. All of this year’s events are free and open to the public and will be held on the university’s St. Paul campus. They are:

Robin Hemley.

Robin Hemley

Robin Hemley will give a lecture on his book Nola: A Memoir of Faith, Art, and Madness at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, April 11, in the auditorium of O’Shaughnessy Educational Center.

Nola recounts the life of the author’s sister, who died at age 25 after several years of treatment for schizophrenia.

Winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Hemley has published seven books; his stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and many literary magazines and anthologies. He is the editor of Defunct magazine.

Quvenzhane Wallis

Quvenzhane Wallis

Beasts of the Southern Wild, nominated for four Academy Awards and winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, will be shown from 8 to 11 p.m. Tuesday, April 16, in Scooter’s, located on the first floor of Anderson Student Center.

The film, a drama with fantasy elements, is set in the Louisiana bayou and stars 6-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis. The film will be introduced by Dr. David Penchansky of the St. Thomas Theology Department. More information about the film can be found here.

St. Thomas Alumni Choir, a mixed vocal ensemble of young and old alumni, will present a concert from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, April 21, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The choir is directed by alumni Sean Barker, Josh Bauder and Casey Johnson.

The choir will perform sacred and secular music by Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina, Elizabeth Alexander, Josh Bauder, Jonathan Tschiggfrie, Stephen Paulus, Felix Mendelssohn, Alice Parker, Z. Randall Stroope and Keith Hampton.

The Gabriel Kney organ.

The Gabriel Kney organ.

An Organ and Choir Concert, part of a series marking the 25th anniversary of the dedication of the university’s Gabriel Kney organ, will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, April 28, in the Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas. Host will be Merritt Nequette, retired professor and former chair on the St. Thomas Music Department.

The program will feature the university’s Liturgical Choir and guest alumni singers directed by Aaron Brown and retired Liturgical Choir founder Robert Strusinski; Orchestra directed by Matthew George; and organists James Callahan, David Jenkins, Kevin Seal and Robert Vickery.

They will perform Noel Goemanne’s “Song of Praise” for choir and organ, which was commissioned for the Gabriel Kney organ dedication in 1987; the Franz Schubert Mass in G; the Concerto for Organ, Strings and Timpani by Francis Poulenc; and the new Concerto for Organ, Strings and Percussion, featuring its composer, organist and professor emeritus of music James Callahan.

Joyce Lyon

Joyce Lyon

The art exhibit “Passaggio/Passage,” featuring works by Joyce Lyon, is on permanent display on the Campus Way, located on the second floor of the Anderson Student Center.

An associate professor of art at the University of Minnesota, Lyon’s works are in public and private collections nationally, including Georgetown University Law Library, the Florida Holocaust Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Walker Art Center and the Weisman Art Museum.

Her work focuses on the intersections of place and memory. “I work from observation with an acute sense of the layering of time,” she said. “In ‘Passagio/Passage,’ I consider pilgrimage as it relates to a physical and spiritual journey and as a meditation on here and there and the passages in between.”

"Passaggio/Passage" by Joyce Lyon

"Passaggio/Passage" by Joyce Lyon

A schedule of this year’s Sacred Arts Festival events can be found here.