Albert Ganter

Music Minister


“THIS IS WHAT I DO!”

When MUSIC is the “WHAT,” that is how Albert Ganter describes himself. He’s the Music Man, and he’s our Music Man. Albert is the Music Minister of Saint Catherine’s Parish and the Music Instructor at St. Catherine’s School.


Albert cannot explain where he got his love of music. Neither his parents nor his brother is musical. Quite the opposite, says Albert. But neither can he remember a time when music was not in his life, especially church music.


Albert was very young when he joined the Children’s Choir at his parish, Saint Peter the Apostle in River Edge, New Jersey. A talented music minister, Donna Taylor, had created a choir of more than 125 children and they sang every Sunday. Donna got Albert to play the organ and piano, as well as sing in the choir. After that, he was hooked. “When I was little,” he recalls about the Children’s Choir, “it was the only thing that got me to church willingly.”


As he entered high school years, Albert moved with his family to Hillsdale. (Ironically, he moved from St. Peter’s just a year or two before our current Pastor, Monsignor Slipe, became Pastor there.) In his new parish, Albert became active singing with the folk group and with the adult choir. Soon he was filling in on the organ for the music minister.


College years saw Albert enter Westminster Choir College of Rider University, studying music education and conducting. A high point for him was singing with the New York Philharmonic, where Westminster provided the in-house chorus, in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. “I can still remember my part in the Ode to Joy …… in German!” Albert states proudly. At Westminster, he had the opportunity to study under Jean Ashworth Bartle, Director of the Toronto Children’s Chorus, one of the first music educators to operate on the belief that children could be trained to perform musically at the same level as adults.


His professional career began at a small Methodist church, but Albert knew that he had to get to a Catholic church if he was going to be satisfied. Music in the liturgy, says Albert, “That’s what I do!” Several brief jobs in Catholic schools, and a start as music minister in a Catholic parish eventually led Albert to St. Catherine’s School, where he joined the faculty in 2005, and became our Parish Music Minister in 2007.


Our Music Man regards as his greatest accomplishment at St. Catherine’s School his success in getting the school children interested in music and performance. He is proud of his students’ performance in the annual Christmas concert, but he is especially pleased with their work in the annual spring Musical. Every year, Albert and the children in our school present a children’s version of a Broadway musical. He has presented in recent years, Into the Woods, Godspell, Willie Wonka and Alice in Wonderland. Doing a children’s version rather than just a selection of songs from the show gives the kids an experience of acting and performing, and Albert believes this represents a step above what many schools can offer.


He is proud of the growth in size and quality of the Parish Choir in the years he has served as Music Minister. He has communicated to the Choir his vision of a Choir as an extension of the liturgical Assembly, rather than a performance group. He has personally taken charge of the effort to teach the congregation the music for the new acclamations from the revised Roman Missal. He finds special satisfaction in events like Advent’s Lessons and Carols. Here the addition of professional singers and musicians gives the choir the joy of performing more advanced choral pieces than those heard on Sunday and gives Albert a chance to exercise his special talent: conducting.


Asked about his dreams for Music Ministry here at St. Catherine’s, Albert lists three. First, he dreams about a day when everyone at Sunday Mass sings. Second, he dreams about returning to his first love, Children’s Choir. Would there be enough interest here to start one? He wonders. And third, he says is, “Seeing it grow.” By “it,” he means Music Ministry at St. Catherine’s.


Will Albert’s dreams come true? Well, he is the Music Man. And he certainly will give it all he’s got. After all, “This is what I do!” is his mantra.