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placeholder Fatima, Lourdes, Spain: Marian pilgrimage sponsored by The Catholic Voice

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Whitaker's music to fill cathedral

Brother Stephen Cox

Oakland judge edits 'Black Domers' book

placeholder September 22, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 16   •   Oakland, CA
Whitaker's music to fill cathedral

Janèt Sullivan Whitaker

Janèt Sullivan Whitaker writes music to be sung by many voices in big spaces. Chances are you have sung one of her songs on any given Sunday.

"Composers are a little bit anonymous," she said in an interview.

But their music is not. On Sept. 27, at the Cathedral of Christ the Light, more than 200 singers from all corners of the diocese will sing selections from Sullivan Whitaker's works, including "In Every Age" and "Here at this Table." The choir, directed by Mark Sullivan, her brother, has been participating in more than 20 rehearsals in cities such as Brentwood, Oakland, Fremont and Hercules over the past two months.

For Sullivan Whitaker, "It's almost like a big ministry family reunion."

She began her music ministry at the age of 10 in the choir of St. Edward Church in Newark. She sang in the choir at Bishop John Cummins' installation as bishop of Oakland in 1977. Today she is the music director at St. Joan of Arc Parish in San Ramon.

"In Every Age"
The music of
Janèt Sullivan Whitaker

When: Sept. 27, 8 p.m.
Where: Cathedral of Christ the Light, 2121 Harrison St., Oakland
A percentage of proceeds will benefit Catholic Charities of the East Bay
Tickets: $20, children 12 and under are free, www.ctlcathedral.org
At the door: $25, cash only
CDs sold after the concert
For the cathedral concert, entitled, "In Every Age," Sullivan Whitaker has selected 90 minutes of "songs that take flight best in that space."

The pieces will showcase the choir ministry, and offer the opportunity for Sullivan Whitaker to sing some of the songs herself.

Performing a concert in the cathedral, she said, "is such a privilege and honor."

It's a space she knows well. She was the cantor for the cathedral's dedication Mass in 2008.

But before that day, as a member of the dedication committee, she stepped into the unfinished cathedral, where hard hats were required and tarps covered some of the spaces.

"My heart just leaped. My eyes went up," she said, as she gazed for the first time at the artwork over the altar. "The Lord is my shepherd."

On the drive home, that moment of wonder turned into a song, which will be part of the Sept. 27 program.

Additional offerings will include music of Advent, Lent and Eternal Life, she said, evoking "eternal images that take us into paradise."

She will perform three songs from her new CD, "This Place of Perfect Peace."

Also new for the audience will be her social justice songs.

"I think it's important to sing about the hungry, the homeless, the battered," she said.

Sullivan Whitaker is also putting her money where her heart is: A portion of the evening's proceeds will benefit the work of Catholic Charities of the East Bay.

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