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Liturgical Composers Forum

Sponsored by the Center for Liturgy at Saint Louis University


To the Assembled Composers Forum:

"Do not be discouraged. You are the leaders in the Church. If you give up, the whole Church will lose. The Whole Church is watching the American Church. Keep your pioneer spirit. If you really believe that in ten years we will be a more liturgical, more biblical Church, it will be so."

—Fr. Lucien Deiss


In 1998 the Center established a national academy of published composers of music for the Roman Catholic liturgy. According to Fr. John Foley, “Suddenly I realized that composers of music for the Roman Catholic Mass did not know one another. We passed by each other at conventions but that is quite different from being colleagues and friends.”

Fr. Foley sought advice from other composers and planned a time each year when these colleagues could come together for rest and renewal. Each January the Center plans and runs a three-day convention—the Liturgical Composers Forum. It is the only such annual gathering of published liturgical composers in the world.

Picture of Composers at a working Forum working session in January 2002
Composers Forum in session during the 2002 meeting in St. Louis

Comments from composers:

A great experience . . . . Love getting to know other composers whose music I too have used . . . . Humbling to listen to the wisdom of those who have been there ahead of me and all the “up and coming” . . . . the inter-generational aspect is great. . . . The energy, the laughter, the concerns, the horror stories, the fears, the triumphs, the dreams, the visions . . . . Opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with composers from other publishers . . . . Like the freedom to come and not perform under a pressure situation . . . . Level playing-field and mutual respect . . . . To associate a person/personality with a musical sound. . . . We go back to our symphony of service, but we are changed for the better!

             Cyprian Consiglio, Roc O'Connor, Paul Hillebrand, Barney Walker;
middle: John Foley;
right: Chrysogonus Waddel & Steve Warner

The Center for Liturgy proudly welcomes five generations of published liturgical composers each year to the Liturgical Composers Forum.

Formats of the sessions differ and include participative panels, plenary sessions, papers, addresses by experts from the field and informal conversations.

A unique feature is commentary by composers on as yet unpublished music that members have written. Names are removed from the music so that there can be complete candor in the remarks.

The Forum includes regular prayer sessions and a Mass held in Saint Louis University's College Church. A festive banquet on campus follows the Mass.

All of this, together with the companionship of composers who are as a result now good friends, marks the Forum as a highlight of the musical year.

1998 Composers Forum Attendees
Attendees at the first annual Composers Forum, 1998, at Cupples House, SLU

1998 Composers Forum Attendees in black and white with names

Attendees since 1998: Andy Andino, Rino Angelini, Steve Angrisano, David & Laura Ash, Tony Barr, Matthew Baute, John Becker, Gael Berberick, Michael Bogdan, Tom Booth, Barbara Bridge, Grayson Warren Brown, Carol Browning, Mauricio Centeno, James J. Chepponis, Gerard Chiusano, Fr. Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Cam, Rory Cooney, Eleazar Cortés, Jaime Cortez, Randall DeBruyn, Kathleen  Demny, Kelly Dobbs-Mickus, Bob Dufford, S. J., Phil and Susan Esserwein, Bob Fabing, S. J., Santiago Fernandez, Bobby Fisher, John Foley, S. J., Rev. Bruce Forman, Mark Friedman, Jerry Galipeau, Normand Gouin, Ray Guiao, S. J., David Haas, Larry Harris, Marty Haugen, Peter Hesed, Paul Hillebrand, Mary  Hochman, Alan Hommerding, Jeffrey Honore', Juliana Howard, Bob Hurd, Paul Inwood, Willard Jabusch, Steven Janco, Orin Johnson, Michael Joncas, Kevin Keil, Columba  Kelly, OSB, Tom Kendzia, Feargal King, Felix Goebel-Komala, Peter Kolar, Ronald Krisman, Carey Landry, Tom Lawler, S. J., Deanna Light, Jack Louden, Ken Macek, Ricky Manalo, C.S.P., Rev. James V. Marchionda, O.P., Dr. Dolores Martinez, Angus McDonell, Donna Marie McGargill, OSM, Rick Modlin, Bob Moore, Sally Ann Morris, Gregory Norbet, Francis Patrick O'Brien, Roc O'Connor, S. J., Stephen Pishner, Carolyn Pirtle, Mary Frances Reza, M.D. Ridge, Angel Robertsson-Soper, Pedro Rubalcava, John Schiavone, Karen Schneider-Kirner, Dan Schutte, Timothy R. Smith, Rev. Juan J. Sosa, Paul Tate, Aaron Thompson, Tom Tomaszek, Sr. Suzanne Toolan, R.S.M., Lynn M. Trapp, Lori True , Al Valverde, Janet Vogt, Barney Walker, Christopher Walker, Tony Ward, Steve Warner, Marcy Weckler-Barr, Janèt Whitaker, Martin Willett, Rufino Zaragoza, O.F.M.

Left: Dr. Ben Asen speaks of Psalms; middle left: Gerry Chiusano; middle right: David Haas; right: Tom Sparough and John Schiavoni get into trouble in after dinner festivities.

Speakers through the years have included

Fr. Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, expert on spirituality and noted author, on the spirituality of creativity and the spiritual health of the artist
Dr. Alice Parker, well-known writer and arranger of choral music, president of Melodious Accord, Inc., on melody writing
Dr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, author, reviewer and teacher of liturgics at St. John’s University, on liturgical music today
• Fr. Paul Turner, noted author and speaker on liturgy and Christian Initiation, on the translation of the new Roman Missal
Dr. Bernhard Asen, Associate Professor of Old Testament at Saint Louis University on the Tragic Psalms
Dr. Brian Wren, noted hymn writer and lecturer, on text writing
Fr. Virgil C. Funk, founder and president-emeritus of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, on Cardinal Ratzinger/Benedict XVI's perspective on the nature of music in the order of creation
Fr. Frank Quinn, OP, professor-emeritus of liturgy at Aquinas Institute of Theology and composer of ritual music, on the new Roman Missal
Rev. Msgr. Bruce Harbert, Executive Secretary for the International Commission on the English Liturgy (ICEL) on the translation of liturgical texts
Grayson Warren Brown, popular composer, speaker and retreat leader, on the Spirit of God.
Dr. Robert Hurd, professor of philosophy and composer of liturgical music, on the assembly's place in worship
Msgr. James Moroney, director of the Secretariat on the Liturgy of the National Bishops’ office, on decisions by the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy
Fr. Jan Michael Joncas, composer, scholar and professor at St. Thomas University in St, Paul, on paradigms of Catholic Church music
Dr. John Ferguson, organist, arranger, composer, on writing accompaniments for organ, piano, and keyboard and on arranging for choirs
Fr. John Foley, SJ, director of the Center for Liturgy, on styles of liturgical music
Fr. Lucien Diess, composer, teacher, scripture scholar, and special advisor to Vatican Council II on liturgy
Mary Elizabeth Sperry, head of copyrights for the Bishops’ Conference
• Composers Bob Hurd, Ricky Manalo, Rory Cooney; and a presentation by Jaime Cortez on methods of writing for Hispanic assemblies

The Composers Forum is supported by contributions from GIA Publications, Oregon Catholic Press, World Library of Sacred Music, and by private donors.


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