Institute Director, Associate Professor
Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka is an associate professor and the director of sacred music at St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, where she holds the William P. Mahrt chair in sacred music.
She has co-edited Mystic Modern: The Music, Thought, and Legacy of Charles Tournemire, published by the Church Music Association of America (CMAA). Her publications also include articles in the New Catholic Encyclopedia, Sacred Music, Antiphon: A Journal for Liturgical Renewal, the proceedings of the Gregorian Institute of Canada, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, the Adoremus Bulletin, Liturgy in the Twenty-First Century (Bloomsbury/T&T Clark), and a chapter in the forthcoming Messiaen in Context (Cambridge University Press).
She serves on the board of the CMAA, is the managing editor of the CMAA’s journal Sacred Music, and is a regular member of the faculty for the CMAA’s annual Sacred Music Colloquium. As academic liaison of the CMAA, she has organized and presented papers at several academic conferences on Charles Tournemire, the work of Msgr. Richard Schuler, and the role of Gregorian chant in pastoral ministry and religious education. She was a co-organizer of the Sacra Liturgia conferences in New York (2015) and San Francisco (2022), and has presented papers at the Sacra Liturgia conferences in New York, London, Milan, and San Francisco. The sometime president, she is currently a board member of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, and served as the conference organizer for the annual meeting of the Society for Catholic Liturgy in Miami. Donelson-Nowicka serves as a Consultant to the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship.
Donelson-Nowicka received her DMA in piano performance at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she studied piano with Paul Barnes, Mark Clinton, and Ann Chang in addition to her organ studies with Quentin Faulkner. She received her undergraduate degree in vocal music education and North Dakota State University, where she studied piano with Dr. Robert Groves and conducting with Dr. JoAnn Miller. Having studied Gregorian chant at the Catholic University of America and the Abbey of St. Peter in Solesmes, for six years Donelson-Nowicka served as a co-organizer of the Musica Sacra Florida Gregorian Chant Conference, and has given chant workshops in dioceses, parishes, and monasteries across the U.S. and Europe. Before coming to St. Patrick’s, Dr. Donelson-Nowicka served on the faculty at St. Gregory the Great Seminary in the diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska, at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, where she taught music theory, music history, piano, and directed the university chorale, and at St. Joseph’s Seminary (Dunwoodie) in New York, where she developed an extensive musical formation program for seminarians and lay students.
As a choral conductor, Donelson-Nowicka has directed seminary, collegiate, semi-professional, amateur, monastic, and children’s choirs. In her new position at St. Patrick’s, she will be working to establish a schola cantorum. She previously directed the Schola Cantorum of St. Joseph’s Seminary, which regularly sang Gregorian and Spanish- and English-language chant, along with an extensive repertoire of sacred polyphony, for the seminary liturgies, while also singing a yearly concert broadcast on Sirius XM, recording a full-length album of music dedicated to St. Joseph, and performing choral masterworks on a concert tour of northern France (2017). She also founded and directed the Metropolitan Catholic Chorale. She has taught extensively for religious orders, including the Benedictine monks of San Benedetto in Monte (Norcia, Italy), the contemplative sisters at the Monastery of St. Edith Stein in Borough Park, Brooklyn (Servants of the Lord and the Virgin of Matará [SSVM]), and the Benedictine nuns of Priorij Nazareth Tegelen in the Netherlands. She has served as a choral conducting coach for graduate organ students in Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music. Additionally, she has taught chant to children for many years using the Ward Method (Ave Maria Oratory, Ave Maria, FL; Colm Cille Club, Pelham, NY; Immaculate Conception Children’s Schola Cantorum, Sleepy Hollow, NY), and previously served on the faculty at Cardinal Kung Academy in Stamford, Connecticut.
Dr. Donelson-Nowicka is currently working on a project to adapt the Gregorian chants of the Mass proper for the Spanish language. She also hosts a weekly podcast entitled “Square Notes: The Sacred Music Podcast.”
Called a “singer’s conductor,” Christopher Berry came to be a choirmaster almost accidentally. His education and experience were initially focused on organ performance and improvisation, but, through his work as accompanist for acclaimed conductors and ensembles, he developed a passion for choral music.
His early experiences working under Robbie Giroir at the Cathedral in Baton Rouge introduced Mr. Berry both to the organ and the beauty of Gregorian chant, but the next few years of his life were focused primarily on organ study. Berry went on to study organ performance with Jesse Eschbach at the University of North Texas, followed by graduate work with James Higdon at the University of Kansas. While at the University of Kansas, he laid the foundation for his choral career by studying conducting with Michael Bauer. At that time, he also had the opportunity to work with Simon Carrington, an experience that was formative. Meanwhile, Mr. Berry spent a summer in Paris to study with Marie-Claire Alain and Madame Duruflé. His time with all these teachers left him with a love of early music that continues to this day.
Toward the end of his studies, Mr. Berry was awarded a Rotary Foundation Ambassadorial Scholarship from 2000–2001 to study in Paris. There he worked with François-Henri Houbart at the conservatory of Rueil-Malmaison, where he was awarded a Premier Prix at the culmination of his studies. While his time in Paris was primarily intended for organ study, it also provided the opportunity to sing under the baton of Ned Tipton as well as with the Choeur Gregorien de Paris. He audited a course at the Paris Conservatory in Gregorian chant conducting under Louis-Marie Vigne. These experiences fed Berry’s burgeoning love of chant and choral singing, and would change the course of his career.
Returning to the states in 2001, he was finally able to occasionally take the baton himself under the direction of Peter Latona at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C. He then moved to New York, where he was able to form a new ensemble at Holy Trinity RC on the Upper West Side that sang a full program of chant and polyphony. At the same time, Mr. Berry was gaining insight into working with choirs as an accompanist for Andrew Megill, Anton Armstrong, and Dale Warland at Westminster Choir College. He was able to glean tremendous insight into how to shape choral sound while observing these conductors at work. He was soon able to apply this knowledge in his work with seminarians.
As the Director of Music for the Pontifical North American College in Rome, Mr. Berry had the opportunity to explore the repertoire of Gregorian chant while training the seminary choir to sing at ordinations held in St. Peter’s Basilica. While in Rome, he conducted a concert in the Sistine Chapel for Patrons of the Chicago Symphony, and recorded Regina Immaculata, to celebrate the college’s 150th anniversary.
Upon his return to the states in 2009, he took the helm at Church of the Incarnation in Dallas, where he cemented his reputation as a choral conductor. There, he led choral residencies at Canterbury Cathedral, St. George’s, Windsor, Westminster Abbey, and Litchfield Cathedral, where he received perhaps the greatest compliment a choir can receive, “You are an English cathedral choir,” from the cathedral Precentor.
Since then, Mr. Berry has developed a reputation for bringing choirs to new heights. A short time after arriving in Milwaukee and establishing a new choir at the Basilica of St. Josaphat, the group was asked by the AGO to sing a three-choirs concert, along with the choirs of the Catholic and Episcopal cathedrals. In 2015, he made a choral recording, Pax Tibi, featuring some of the beloved repertoire of that majestic church.
Since 2019, Mr. Berry has been director of music at St. Stanislaus Oratory in Milwaukee, directing its choir and establishing new ensembles. Trained in semiology during his time in Paris, he has had to become an expert in the Classic Solesmes method for his work for the Institute of Christ the King. In his “free time,” he is enjoying delving into the scholarship behind the mensuralist approach to chant. He is a sought-after clinician, and he has most recently been on the choral conducting faculty of the Church Music Association of America Colloquium.
Mr. Berry lives just south of Milwaukee, though his heart is ever in his native South, where he grew up playing music, soccer, and visiting Civil War battlefields. He still loves those things today, along with newfound interests—but most of all, any and all time spent with his beloved wife and six daughters.
Frank La Rocca
Frank La Rocca is Composer-in-Residence at the Benedict XVI Institute for Sacred Music and Divine Liturgy.
His commissioned works for the Institute comprise, thus far, four Masses: Messe des Malades (2022), Missa Sancti Juníperi Serra (2022), Requiem Mass for the Homeless (2020) and Mass of the Americas (2018). Mass of the Americas has been hailed as “Perhaps the most significant Catholic composition of our lifetimes” and “a cornerstone of modern liturgical composition.” The recent CD recording of this Mass debuted at number one on Billboard’s Classical charts and earned a place in the Top Ten for Traditional Classical music for 2022. Other recent distinctions include winning the ORTUS international choral composition competition, and a 2018 American Prize for his A Rose In Winter – the life of St. Rita of Cascia, a major work for chorus, orchestra, and soloists. As Composer-in-Residence at the Benedict XVI Institute, La Rocca oversees the commissioning of works by rising young Catholic composers—a total of six to date.
He has received grants, commissions and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, California Arts Council, the Foundation for Sacred Arts, Young Women’s Chorus of San Francisco, Diocese of Oakland, California State University, ASCAP Foundation, USC Thornton Chamber Singers, Vanguard Voices, London Festival of Contemporary Church Music, Cois Cladaigh, the Madrigirls, and many others. His work, Diffusa Est Gratia was toured by the renowned London Oratory School Schola Cantorum in Fall 2017 in Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.
His first solo CD In This Place (Enharmonic Records) reached the top ten in classical CD sales on Amazon and was a 2013 “Critic’s Choice” at American Record Guide.
Trained as an academic modernist during his degree studies at Yale and University of California-Berkeley, La Rocca came to see this approach as a barrier to authentic musical expression, and spent many years in search of a personal creative language—leading him into the realms of philosophy and theology and, ultimately, back into the Catholic Church at Lent in 2009.
His catalog includes works in all genres, with an emphasis on sacred choral works. At a recent University of Notre Dame conference, “James MacMillan: The Musical Modes of Mary and the Cross,” La Rocca presented a talk entitled, “The Apologetics of Beauty: a Musical Theology of the Incarnation,” based upon his choral work O Magnum Mysterium.
In 2014 he retired from a 35-year career teaching music composition and theory at California State University East Bay, where he is now Professor Emeritus. He was a founder of and Executive Director for the San Francisco-based new music concert series, Composers, Inc., for 25 years, overseeing the performance of over 500 works by living American composers.
Dr. La Rocca was inducted into the American Association of Catholic Artists and Scholars in 2023. He is published by Boosey and Hawkes, Walton Music, Santa Barbara Music, and Lumen Verum Music.
William Mahrt is Associate Professor and Director of Early Music Singers in the music department at Stanford University, President of the Church Music Association of America, and editor of Sacred Music, the oldest continuously published journal of music in North America.
Dr. Mahrt grew up in Washington state; after attending Gonzaga University and the University of Washington, he completed a doctorate at Stanford University in 1969. He taught at Case Western Reserve University and the Eastman School of Music, and then returned to Stanford in 1972, where he continues to teach early music. Since 1964 he has directed the choir of St. Ann Chapel in Palo Alto, which sings Mass and Vespers in Gregorian chant on all the Sundays of the year, with masses in the polyphonic music of Renaissance masters for the holy days.
His research interests include theory and performance of Medieval and Renaissance music, troubadours, Machaut, Dufay, Lasso, Dante, English Cathedrals, Gregorian chant, and Renaissance polyphony. He has published articles on the relation of music and liturgy, and music and poetry. He frequently leads workshops in the singing of Gregorian chant and the sacred music of the Renaissance.
Fr. Nicholas Schneider
Fr. Nick Schneider is a native of Bismarck, North Dakota. A priest of the Catholic Diocese of Bismarck, Father will celebrate his 14th anniversary of ordination this summer. He treasures the gift God gave him in being called to be a priest. After serving as the pastor of Christ the King Parish for five years, Father is now the Director of Worship for the Diocese of Bismarck and the pastor of the Church of St. Vincent de Paul in Crown Butte.
Father holds degrees in music (University of Mary, Bismarck), Catholic humanities (Campion College, San Francisco), philosophy (Pontifical College Josephinum, Columbus), theology (Pontifical University of St. Thomas, Rome), and both a Licentiate and Doctorate in Sacred Liturgy from the Atheneo St. Anselmo in Rome, Italy. He holds the AMS 9-12 certificate from the Montessori Elementary Teacher Training Collaborative (METTC) in Boston, MA, and is currently working toward the AMI 6-12 diploma from The Montessori Institute in Denver, CO.
Fr. Schneider’s Doctoral Dissertation, titled “Application of a Methodology toward a Theological-Hermeneutical Dictionary of the Roman Missal,” elucidates and applies a wide variety of linguistic, hermeneutic, and theological principles in the interpretation of individual vocabulary of the Missal. While he loves academic work, Fr. Schneider derives tremendous joy from his daily apostolic work, teaching as a Montessori guide at Christ the King School.
Christoph Tietze began his career as church organist at age twelve in his native Germany. After his family immigrated to the United States, he received a Bachelor of Arts from San Jose State University, a Master of Music and Master of Musical Arts from Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music, and a Doctor of Sacred Music from the Graduate Theological Foundation. Between his Bachelor and Master degrees, he spent one year of private study in organ and improvisation with Jean Langlais in Paris and won the Tournemire Prize in Improvisation at the St. Alban’s International Organ Competition in England. From 1984 to 1992, he was Music Director and Organist at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre, NY, and for the last thirty years, he has been Music Director/Organist at St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco, and he served as chair of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians from 2017 to 2019. Tietze has presented numerous organ and choir performances throughout Europe and the United States, and he frequently presents workshops on Gregorian chant, children’s choirs, and the music of Sigfrid Karg-Elert. His books on the introits are published by Liturgy Training Publications and World Library Publications.
Fr. Samuel Weber, OSB
Fr. Samuel F. Weber, O.S.B. is originally from Chicago. He earned a B.A. and M.Div. at Saint Meinrad Seminary, St. Meinrad, IN, and a Licentiate in Sacred Theology at the Pontifical Athenaeum and the Pontifical Liturgical Institute of San Anselmo in Rome, with studies in monastic/patristic studies and sacred liturgy, with emphasis on the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict and the Divine Office.
Fr. Samuel is a professed monk and priest of Saint Meinrad Archabbey, St. Meirnad, IN, a Benedictine monastery of the Swiss-American Congregation.
Fr. Samuel’s interests are in monastic/patristic theology, spirituality, and Greek and Latin classics, as well as ancient art and archaeology. He has served as a seminary professor for forty-three years. His primary responsibilities at the present time are with the Benedict XVI Institute for Divine Worship and Sacred Music, Archdiocese of San Francisco.
For twenty years Fr. Samuel was on the faculty of Saint Meinrad School of Theology and Saint Meinrad College. He was a founding member of the Wake Forest University Divinity School, Winston-Salem, NC, where he taught for nine years. In addition, he has taught in the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary, The Southern Baptist Seminary, Louisville, KY, and the Disciples of Christ Seminary, Lexington, KY. In addition to teaching, his ecumenical involvement has included lecturing and writing for The Upper Room (Methodist) and The Presbyterian Board of Worship.
In the Archdiocese of Saint Louis, Fr. Samuel headed the Institute of Sacred Music and was on the faculty of Kenrick-Glennon Seminary.
Fr. Samuel has served as an advisor for ICEL (The International Committee on English in the Liturgy) on the new translation of the Roman Missal. For four summers he was a teacher at The Liturgical Institute, Mundelein Seminary, Mundelein, IL, and for one summer at Christendom College, Front Royal, VA, where he was also director of liturgical music. He is an experienced retreat director in the areas of liturgy, spirituality, marriage and family living, and ecumenism.
Fr. Samuel’s publications include (Ignatius Press) The Propers of the Mass for Sundays and Solemnities, The Pew Missal, and Compline. In addition, he has composed the chants for The Propers of the Mass for Weekdays of the Temporal Cycle. He is the editor of The Hymnal for the Hours. His most recent publications include The Saint Patrick Gradual and the The Saint Patrick Antiphonary. At the present time he is preparing the organ accompaniments for the Liber Hymnarius, and composing the Ignatius Press Pew Missal in Spanish. He has authored numerous articles and publications, and has been a guest speaker at the Fota Conference on the Sacred Liturgy, Cork City, Ireland.
Charles Weaver is on the faculty of the Juilliard School, where he teaches historical plucked instruments and Baroque music theory. He has performed widely as an accompanist on lute and theorbo, with a particular interest in seventeenth-century opera. Of his conducting for New York’s Dell’Arte Opera, The Observer remarked, “It was amazing to hear what warm and varied sounds he coaxed from the ensemble.” He has also served as assistant conductor for Juilliard Opera and has accompanied operas with the Yale Baroque Opera Project, Princeton University, the University of Maryland, and the Boston Early Music Festival.
As an orchestral musician, he has performed with the New York Philharmonic, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and the Virginia Symphony. His chamber-music engagements have included Quicksilver, Piffaro, Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the Folger Consort, Apollo’s Fire, Blue Heron, and Musica Pacifica. He also works with the New York Continuo Collective, an ensemble that mounts workshop productions of seventeenth-century vocal music. He has taught at the Lute Society of America Summer Workshop, the International Baroque Institute at Longy, and the Madison Early Music Festival.
He currently serves as organist and director of music at St. Mary’s Church in Norwalk, Connecticut. He joined the St. Mary’s Schola in 2012, under the direction of David Hughes, and later served as both a faculty member for the student schola program and as associate director of music. Before coming to St. Mary’s, he was director of the Holy Innocents’ Schola in New York City and previously sang at St. Agnes, where he had the life-altering experience, in 2006, of encountering plainchant as a living tradition.
He is pursuing a doctoral degree in music theory at the City University of New York. His research interests include the history of music theory and the theory of plainchant rhythm. He lives in Connecticut with his wife and four children.