Jan Huseby is the Diocese of Superior’s connection to the country’s top Catholic musicians.
Music director at St. Mary Parish, Tomahawk, and member of the diocesan music committee, Huseby is credited with drawing some major names in Catholic music, – Fr. Michael Joncas, Tony Alonso and John Angotti – to the diocese.
Huseby has been a liturgical musician for 40 years. She first met Dominican Fr. Jim Marchionda, a composer, singer and instrumentalist, through parish missions.
The priest is a composer with World Library Publications in Chicago, one of the three primary liturgical music publishers.
“I think that knowing one person connects me to other people, and they’ve just become friends,” she said.
Huseby also joined the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, an organization for both volunteer and paid liturgical musicians. Besides skill formation and workshops, NPM also affords her networking opportunities.
“Having attended a lot of the different composers’ workshops is a good way to connect,” she explained. “(NPM) is a really affirming sort of support system for people who work with liturgical music.”
John Angotti, the performer for the diocese’s 2015 Annual Music Ministry Conference, was “discovered” by Fr. Marchionda, who brought him to Tomahawk one year. Huseby got to know him, and Angotti continues to travel to Tomahawk periodically for concerts and workshops.
“His music has developed over the years,” she said. “He has become a … very highly acclaimed musician in the Catholic Church.”
Angotti’s style is more contemporary, according to Huseby. He tours nationally and internationally; he performed for Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to New York, World Youth Day and other major events. Huseby was among the choir members at Carnegie Hall when Angotti performed at the New York City venue in 2011.
“He’s become a very valuable presenter,” she added. “I think he’s an amazing composer of text that is grounded in scripture.”
When the diocesan music committee is selecting musicians for the annual music workshop, “We try to have presenters that present not only a variety of music, but a variety of styles and experiential backgrounds as well,” she said.
“Over the years, we’ve had different presenters at this diocesan music workshop, and we try to represent different music publishing companies,” Huseby explained. “We try to expose the people of our diocese to music used in their hymnals.”
Paul Birch, diocesan director of the Office of Worship, wanted to bring in someone who would appeal to musicians of all ages.
“We’re trying to get more youth-friendly ideas out there,” added Birch.
“I think he absolutely is multigenerational,” Huseby said of Angotti.
When he comes to Tomahawk, “There is no single age focus,” she observed. “The older people love his music. He has a wonderful way of appealing to all different generations.”
A pianist and composer, Angotti performs both with and without a band. He will be going solo for the diocesan music workshop, which is Feb. 6-7.
Angotti’s current project, touring with his new musical, “Job: The Now Testament,” was postponed when the musician was injured in a motorcycle accident in September. He’s recuperating, Huseby said. When she spoke with him, he was reflecting on the spiritual aspects of injury and recovery. He’s since resumed touring. The annual Music Ministry Retreat and Workshop begins with a social at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 6, at Turtleback Golf, Dining & Conference Center in Rice Lake. Angotti will give his first presentation that night following dinner.
“The Friday evening retreat is the way our people can relax and separate the busyness of their life from their ministry,” Huseby commented.
Saturday’s activities are more formational, she explained. The morning begins with coffee and rolls at 8:30 a.m., and Angotti speaks from 9:30 a.m. until lunch; his second presentation of the day, a music reading session, begins at 12:45 p.m. The workshop concludes at 3 p.m.
On average, about 100 people attend the conference, Huseby said.
“We have been so amazingly fortunate that the weather the first week of February has always cooperated with us,” she added. “It’s a real gift for us to organize this every year, because we see more and more the journey people share in music ministry.”
Most musicians in the diocese are volunteers, and Huseby said sending them to the workshop “is almost a gift for them.”
Cost to attend the workshop is $30 per day before Jan. 30, which includes meals. Rooms are $75; after Jan. 30, daily registration is $35 and does not include meals. Call Kathy Turba, 715-523-0238, for information.
Before leaving the state, Angotti will stop in Tomahawk Feb. 8 to perform for the first time with Jeanne Cotter, a prominent Catholic pianist. He will also give a workshop at St. Mary Parish.
Huseby is looking forward to Angotti’s concert with Cotter, who has also led a past diocesan music workshop. Huseby studied piano with Cotter, a master pianist “and gifted singer and composer,” for 10 years. Cotter has also led several women’s retreats in Tomahawk, Huseby said.
“I think it’s going to be really exciting,” she added.
Cost for the concert is $10 per person or $25 per family. Cost for the workshop and concert is $15 or $40 per family. Call the parish, 715-453-2878, for details.