CRES MainMenu     Planning
Click here for Reports including Photos

Click here for a PDFof  the 8-PAGE PRINTED PROGRAM

This observance of a traditional Christian feast day is honored with references to many faiths around the world, from the Paleolithic to the present, in the sonnets selected for the occasion, embraced by music from Elizabethan times when the English sonnet was was defined by Shakespeare, the Quadricentennial of whose death we also mark. Scroll down for tickets.

Individual Admission
$10 Donation
Pick-up Tickets at Will Call

Your Support for this Event is Welcomed and Appreciated
Those unable to purchase tickets are also welcomed with small donation or no charge at the door.

Candlemas Sponsors
$35 Donation
includes 2 Tickets at Will Call

Candlemas Patrons
$100 Donation
includes 4 Tickets at Will Call

André's Confiserie Suisse presents a complimentary chocolate to each member of the audience
with the reminder to visit André's to treat your Valentine to the finest chocolates prepared in the great Swiss tradition.

L J Archias
John Gregory
Jerry Harrington
Larry L McMullen
The Reverend David E Nelson, DMin

Additional Benefactors
Vern Barnet
Yoshikazu Matsuda

Co-operating Partner
The Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council

For the Kansas City Star's Preview, click here.

scroll down <> scroll up

Whatever your tradition or none, you are invited to bring candles to be blessed this evening celebrating the love of light in all religions. CANDLEMAS is the traditional day in the Christian calendar when the candles to be used in the next twelve months by the church are blessed.

For more information about Candlemas in Christianity, click here.

This evening of light, music, and poetry is hosted at 
Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral with on-site parking


Beau Bledsoe

Matt Schwader

The Sacred Arts Chorale
directed by Dr Rebecca Johnson

About Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire
by Vern Barnet

Beau Bledsoe

Beau Bledsoe performs and records with some of the greatest artists in Tango, Flamenco and classical music as he seeks to integrate different musical cultures with diverse audiences. Beau has performed in almost every state in the United States. In addition, Beau has toured extensively in Mexico, Argentina, Portugal, Spain, Germany, France, Switzerland, Turkey and Russia. Kansas Citians know him as a soloist and through groups like Bach Aria Soloists, Owen/Cox Dance Group, and the Kansas City Ballet. 

Matt Schwader

Matt Schwader relocated to Kansas City, MO in February 2016, having previously lived and worked as an actor, voice over talent, director, teacher, and acting coach in Chicago since 1990. This past January, he taught a Shakespeare Workshop in Seattle and served as the verse coach for a production there of Romeo and Juliet. Immersed in Shakespeare, he has played from Stratford-upon-Avon to Mozambique, and performed in contemporary drama as well. 

The Sacred Arts Chorale
directed by 
Dr Rebecca Johnson

The Chorale on the Web

Dr. Rebecca Johnson, director of the Sacred Arts Chorale, is also the director of the Institute for Sacred Arts at the Central Baptist Theological Seminary, conductor of the Metropolitan Chorale of Kansas City, and coordinator of the music department at Metropolitan Community College Blue River in Independence. She is a past president of the Kansas City Lyric Opera Guild. 
     Johnson's degrees include a bachelor's in instrumental music from the University of Northern Colorado, a master's in music education from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, and a doctorate in choral conducting from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri Kansas City.  In demand as adjudicator and clinician as well as a frequent guest lecturer, Johnson works with Missouri, Kansas and Nebraska State High School activities as well as numerous festivals and competitions. In addition, Johnson has served as guest conductor for honor orchestras and festival choral ensembles in all three states.

One of the Kansas City area’s finest sacred music performance groups, the Sacred Arts Chorale has performed by invitation in a wide range of local venues, including area arts, cultural, sports, and ecclesial organizations. The Sacred Arts Chorale is composed of singers with the skills, dedication, and training necessary for performing vocally demanding sacred music with excellence, inspiration, and appeal. The Chorale draws from students at Central Baptist Theological Seminary and from men and women in the greater Kansas City region.


Soprano: Courtney Koval, Jennifer White, Kimberly Wilkinson
Alto: Kristen Alley, Elizabeth Birger, Kirsten Hyde
Tenor: Clifford Hall, Eddie Taula, Jackson Thomas 
Bass: Caleb Madison, Michael Scahill, Robert Southard, Thou Yang
Accompanist: Charles Dickenson
Conductor: Rebecca Johnson

Thanks for Noticing: The Interpretation of Desire
by Vern Barnet

The book of sonnets and commentary draws on almost every religion you may have ever heard of -- Vern is a scholar of world religions, the founder of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, and for 18 years the weekly "Faith and Beliefs" columnist for The Kansas City Star -- with the sonnets arranged by parts of the Mass, even when they highlight themes from other faiths. 
     The juxtaposition of sonnets selected from sections of the book with movements of the traditional Byrd Mass offers a unique opportunity for spiritual reflection and expansion.
     For more information about the book, click here.
        A brief Wikipedia bio appears here:
        For a complete bio, visit

Download this 8.5x11 PDF Poster

Download a PDF of the full
8-page printed program

Feast of the Presentation

Although this performance of music and poetry draws from many faiths, it is occasioned by the Christian liturgical calendar. Candlemas is the Feast of the Presentation, when Mary and Joseph took Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem. The window at the front of the nave on the south side of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral commemorates this event. 
     A Jewish menorah, Buddhist incense, an American Indian drum, a Hindu oil lamp, a Qur'an open to a passage about light, and waters contributed from thirteen Kansas City traditions from A to Z, American Indian to Zoroastrian, help to illumine this special evening. 
     In keeping with the Christian custom, candles of different kinds to be used by the Cathedral in the coming year are placed on a table in the front of the nave to be blessed, and folks who attend are invited to bring candles from their homes to be blessed at the same time.
     Below this image of the Presentation window is the passage from the Gospel of Luke which tells the story. Note how Jesus is called "a Light to enlighten the nations."

When the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord 23 (as it is written in the law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord”), and they offered a sacrifice according to what is stated in the law of the Lord, “a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.”

Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; this man was righteous and devout, looking forward to the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit rested on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Guided by the Spirit, Simeon came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him what was customary under the law, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying,

Lord, you now have set your servant free *
    to go in peace as you have promised; 
For these eyes of mine have seen the Savior, *
    whom you have prepared for all the world to see: 
A Light to enlighten the nations, *
    and the glory of your people Israel. 
And the child’s father and mother were amazed at what was being said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”
--Luke 2:22-35
The indented portion is the Song of Simeon, Nunc Dimittis, and when used liturgically in the Book of Common Prayer, is followed by
    Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit: *
    as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen. 

2017 January 28 
The Kansas City Star

Candlemas concert

Pagan holidays, like the Celtic Imbolc and the Roman Lupercalia, were appropriated by the Roman Catholic Church, baptized and transformed into Candlemas, which is celebrated Feb. 2, exactly 40 days after Christmas.

“Candlemas in Light, Music & Poetry” at Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral will celebrate this ancient Christmas holiday with music by English Renaissance composer William Byrd performed by the Sacred Arts Chorale conducted by Rebecca Johnson. Lutenist Beau Bledsoe will also perform, and Vern Barnet’s sonnets will be read by actor Matt Schwader.

Barnet, a beloved local interfaith leader and founder of the Center for Religious Experience and Study, has written 154 sonnets in imitation of those by William Shakespeare. Deeply influenced by Barnet’s immersion in the world’s religions and wisdom traditions, the poems will add to the sacred atmosphere of the evening.

“Light is a spiritual metaphor in many of my sonnets,” Barnet said. “ ‘Wound Wick,’ for example, uses the burning of a candle to explore the illumination when passionate lovers find God in each other.”

The feast of Candlemas, which originated in the fourth century, commemorates Mary’s ritual purification after the birth of Christ. The story, recounted in the gospel of Luke, is also the source of the popular “Nunc Dimittis,” Simeon’s canticle of praise when Joseph and Mary presented Jesus in the temple.

“Now you may dismiss your servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace.”

“Candlemas in Light, Music & Poetry” is not strictly Christian, however, but draws on the traditions and customs of many religions.

“This is an interfaith celebration of light, music and poetry, using a Jewish menorah and a Hindu oil lamp, incense from Mount Hiei’s famous Enryaku-ji Buddhist temple and an American Indian drum,” Barnet said. “A Qur’an will be opened to the place where Allah is named ‘the Light,’ and waters from 13 world religions represented here in Kansas City, collected on the first anniversary of 9/11 to embody our tears of grief and joy, will be used to bless those in attendance.”

People are also invited to bring candles to be blessed and the cathedral itself will be bathed in candlelight. Complimentary chocolate truffles from André’s Confiserie Suisse will be given out to provide a sweet coda to the evening.

7 p.m. Feb. 2. Grace & Holy Trinity Cathedral, 415 W. 13th St. $10.

Short Interview with Vern

Why did you select Candlemas as a time to share your sonnets?
     At midwinter, February 2, when many of us experience seasonal affected disorder (SAD), we look to the groundhog for relief from the restrictions of the cold, but this recent American folk-tradition is actually an expression of the Ancient Candlemas tradition on the same date, when candles for the forthcoming year were blessed in festivity. The site of our program, Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, will be filled with candlelight, and folks who wish are invited to bring candles from their homes to be blessed.

How did the idea for the evening develop? 
     With the blessing of the Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council and the cooperation of Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, a group of friends planned this evening of light, music, and poetry to lift our spirits in this season of darkness and gloom. Musician Beau Bledsoe, Shakespearean actor Matt Schwader, and I had a wonderful evening exploring my sonnets at Prospero's Books last year, that we thought it would be fun to enlarge the experience and the audience. I've heard my friend, Dr Rebecca Johnson, direct the Sacred Arts Chorale and discussed the idea with her. And suddenly everyone was excited!