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Michael Emmerich practices Jan. 4 on the St. Cecilia Cathedral’s dual temperament Pasi organ. (DANIKA LANG/FOR THE CATHOLIC VOICE)

Organist to give ‘homecoming’ concert at St. Cecilia Cathedral

A Jan. 20 concert at St. Cecilia Cathedral in Omaha will mark a homecoming of sorts for organist Michael Emmerich. 

Hired last year as associate director of music for the archdiocese’s Saint Cecilia Institute for Sacred Liturgy, Music and the Arts, Emmerich will give the concert as part of the St. Cecilia’s Cathedral Arts Project series “Welcome Home Organists.” 

The series, marking the 15th anniversary of the installation of the cathedral’s Pasi dual-temperament organ, features musicians who are present or past members of the St. Cecilia Cathedral’s music ministry community. Emmerich often assisted at the cathedral over the past 10 years whenever his studies at the University of Nebraska Lincoln, the University of Notre Dame and the University of Kansas allowed.

A Lincoln native, he was associate organist at the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart of the Houston-Galveston Archdiocese before joining the St. Cecilia staff. 

His work as associate music director now gives him regular access to the cathedral’s organ, allowing him to put in the time required to practice on an instrument that is “very much a part of its space” and the cathedral’s acoustics.

For the 3 p.m. concert, Emmerich wrote a special piece – a reflection on the traditional hymn “The King of Love My Shepherd Is.” He also will perform works by classical greats Brahms and Schumann, and a dramatic, joyful piece by 20th century Austrian composer Franz Schmidt, he said.

“I also try to mirror in rural parishes what we do here at the Cathedral,” he said. So Emmerich will give a March 24 concert at St. Leonard Parish in Madison. He plans a modified program to suit the parish’s “beautiful, historic organ.”

Emmerich’s primary responsibilities include working with rural parishes throughout the archdiocese, advising and helping them develop and refine their music ministries.

“A lot of it involves listening and learning – that’s where it begins, and getting to know people,” Emmerich said. “Everything’s based in relationships and probably the greatest joy in it for me is to see the diversity of all the different communities.”

The Catholic Voice

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