Program Overview

Music gives glory to God. It also expresses the glory of man. At its best, music gives voice to the beauty, power, and wonder of the human experience. That is why helping it to blossom anew in each age while passing on the musical treasures of ages past is both a sacred task and a serious calling. It requires rigorous work and a close partnership between artists and their students.

As a sacred music major at Franciscan University, you will enter into that partnership with your professors to receive the training you need to prepare for a career as a classically trained professional musician, either in voice or organ. Along with the traditional courses of private study, theory, and history, your studies will also focus intensively on the Church’s rich musical tradition, including Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony, and the great works of all ages.

You may also choose to learn the skills you need to write beautiful, true music that will inspire in listeners the awe and wonder that can transform culture.

Designed specifically for those wishing to pursue careers as church musicians and performers, and for those wishing to continue on to graduate study, Franciscan’s Sacred Music Program offers the opportunity to study a wide range of traditional sacred and secular music and numerous opportunities to perform. The Schola Cantorum Franciscana and Franciscan University Chorale regularly collaborate to present large-scale works, while students and faculty offer recitals on and off campus. The Franciscan Chamber Group offers instrumentalists, singers, and composers opportunities to find new ways of transforming culture through innovative performances. During your time in the program, you will also take part in Choral Vespers and Compline and lead music at University liturgies.

Sacred Music Minor

The Sacred Music Minor gives students training in music theory, music history, sacred music and performance and prepares them to become involved in the musical life of the Church and society after graduation. Sacred music minors are required to take a core curriculum of courses, to participate in campus ensembles and to gain proficiency, and to demonstrate their ability on an instrument (including voice).

Many Opportunities to Perform

Importantly, thanks to an excellent student-to-teacher ratio, you will have frequent opportunities for performance and collaboration with faculty and professional guest artists. Recent guests include the Grammy Award-winning men’s choir, Chanticleer; the George London award-winner, tenor Corey Bix; internationally acclaimed vocal group, Seraphic Fire; and national organ improvisation competition winner, Jason Roberts.

To enroll at Franciscan as a sacred music major, you must complete an audition and submit the supplementary music form and the music teacher’s report (available on the program’s Web page) in addition to the normal admissions materials. Admission to the University will be offered separately from admission to the program in sacred music due to the limited number of spots available.

Once you have applied to the program, you will be evaluated on the basis of both musical and academic qualifications, as well as potential for development, before being offered a place in the incoming class. All applicants for the Bachelor of Arts in Sacred Music should follow the regular University application and financial aid procedures and pursue the audition process simultaneously. Notification of admission to Franciscan University will be given prior to notification concerning admission to the Sacred Music Program.

To graduate with your Bachelor of Arts in Sacred Music, you will need to complete 21 course hours in either voice or organ, two semesters of a secondary instrument, four semesters of music theory and analysis, two semesters of music history, two semesters of Gregorian chant, two semesters of sacred music colloquium (which includes conducting), and two semesters of a foreign language at the intermediate level. You also are required to participate in the Schola Cantorum Franciscana for three of your four years in the program.

By the time you complete your studies, you will have a thorough understanding of the history and tradition of sacred music, as well as the performance background to pursue a career as a performer or church musician, or continue on to graduate studies. If you choose, you will also have experience in composing and premiering musical works that, through beauty, communicate truth and goodness. Recent graduates have gone on to full-time parish work as well as graduate study at prestigious schools such as the Cleveland Institute of Music, Westminster Choir College, the Catholic University of America, and Indiana University. Graduates of the organ program have won numerous organ competitions in nearby Pittsburgh.

Student Ensembles

As the “language of the soul,” music communicates what mere words and pictures can’t. Everything the human heart feels—all the joy, sorrow, hope, fury, and passion—finds its most powerful expression in music. And when we make music, when we sing it and play it, we understand the heart better. We understand ourselves better. Above all, we understand God, who made our hearts, better.

At Franciscan University, we believe that no matter what a student’s major is, the chance to sing and play an instrument is a chance to grow in love, wisdom, and understanding. It’s also a chance to have some fun, meet new people, and confront new challenges.

That’s why Franciscan offers students a number of different ways to speak “the language of the soul.”

The Sacred Music Program

Franciscan University’s Sacred Music Program enables students to become classically trained professional musicians, either in voice or organ. The program opens doors to careers as church musicians and performers, and provides an excellent foundation for graduate studies. The Sacred Music Major explores a wide range of sacred and secular music. Along with the traditional courses of private study, theory, and history, your studies will focus intensively on the Catholic Church’s ancient musical tradition, including Gregorian chant, sacred polyphony and the great works of all ages. If you choose, you can compose and premiere music that, through beauty, communicates truth and goodness. Acceptance to the program is by audition only. A Sacred Music Minor is also available for students of any major who wish to become more immersed in the culture of sacred music.

Music Ministry

If you want to use your talents in voice or with an instrument to give glory to God, music ministry is for you. Music ministry students provide the music for the 20 Masses held at Christ the King Chapel at Franciscan University each week, as well as for Sunday Vespers, monthly Festivals of Praise, and other occasions. Music ministry auditions are held at the start of each semester. If accepted, you’ll be assigned to a group according to your talent and availability. Each music ministry group is committed to the same Mass each week for the entire semester.

Schola Cantorum Franciscana

Interested in learning more about the Church’s rich tradition of sacred music? Consider auditioning for the Schola Cantorum Franciscana, the liturgical choir of Franciscan University. Students chosen for the choir are immersed in liturgical music through Gregorian chant and the English and Latin traditions of polyphony. The schola sings regularly for liturgies in the University’s Christ the King Chapel, while also giving concerts on campus and in the greater Pittsburgh area. Acceptance to the schola is by audition only.

Franciscan Chamber Orchestra

The Franciscan Chamber Orchestra is comprised of string and other orchestral instruments. Open to University students and other community musicians, the orchestra specializes in the great chamber and orchestral music of the Western tradition. Admission is by audition only.

Franciscan University Chorale

If you want to deepen your knowledge of vocal music, as well as have the opportunity to perform, the Franciscan University Chorale is what you’re looking for. The chorale is the University’s concert choir. Singers present a wide variety of music, from chant and polyphony to modern pieces and Gospel music. The chorale gives concerts each semester, sings for special University events, and collaborates with the Schola Cantorum to present the annual Advent Festival of Lessons and Carols. Acceptance to the chorale is by audition only.

Auditions

Sacred music applicants are evaluated on the basis of both musical and academic qualifications, as well as on potential for development before being offered a place in the in-coming class. All applicants for the Bachelor of Arts in Sacred Music must complete an audition and submit the supplementary music form and the music teacher’s report (see below) in addition to the normal admissions materials. Admission to the university will be offered separately from admission to the program in Sacred Music due to the limited number of spots available in the program. Students should follow the regular university application and financial aid procedures and pursue the audition process simultaneously. Notification of admission to Franciscan University must be given prior to notification concerning admission to the sacred music program

The Audition Process

Prospective students who wish to undertake the study of sacred music must demonstrate their ability either on the organ or in voice before they can enter the program. Pianists who wish to pursue the program in organ may audition on the piano. Audition repertoire is listed below. In addition, prospective students will be tested for general musical abilities at the time of their audition.

Auditions for admission to the sacred music major are made by appointment and can be arranged by contacting Prof. Nicholas Will at [email protected].

All applicants who live within 250 miles of campus are required to audition on campus. For all other applicants, if distance prevents a live audition, CD or cassette recordings of an unedited performance may be submitted. Please do not send DAT, mini-disc or other formats. Since these recordings will be central to the faculty’s evaluation of a prospective student’s abilities, they should be of the highest possible quality. Please do not send recordings made with electronic instruments. All recordings should be labeled with name, instrument/voice part, repertoire, and a signed statement that the performance is by the applicant. On-campus auditions are highly recommended to all applicants, since they offer an opportunity to meet faculty and discuss the program in addition to the live performance.

The Program in Organ

Potential organ majors are encouraged to apply for admission to the university as early as possible in order to secure a place in the in-coming class. Applicants who wish to undertake the study of organ at Franciscan University, and live within 250 miles of campus must audition on campus in the academic year prior to their Freshman year. Pianists may audition for entrance into the program in organ on the piano with the understanding that they will be expected to gain an intermediate level of facility on the organ by the time of their sophomore jury and a professional level of ability on the organ by the time of their senior recital.

Audition repertoire:

  • A work by J. S. Bach, such as a prelude and fugue, a chorale prelude or a trio sonata movement.
  • A contrasting composition written after 1800.

Pianists may audition with 1. a work by J. S. Bach, such as a prelude and fugue from the Well-Tempered Clavier and 2. the first or last movement of a classical piano sonata, such Beethoven or Mozart (excluding Beethoven op.49; op.79; and op.27, no.2).

Memorization is encouraged but not required.

The Program in Voice

Potential voice majors are encouraged to apply for admission to the university as early as possible in order to secure a place in the in-coming class. Students who wish to undertake the study of voice at Franciscan University, and live within 250 miles of campus must audition on campus in the academic year prior to their Freshman year.

Audition repertoire:
Two solos of contrasting styles chosen from the following categories:

  1. Italian songs of the 17th and 18th centuries
  2. Lieder of Schubert, Schumann, Brahms or other composers of German art song
  3. American or British art songs
  4. Operatic or Oratorio arias

An accompanist will be provided for audition. Additional sight-singing and ear-training exercises will also be expected.

Performances and Events

Pontifical High Mass with Cardinal Burke

“Christ My Hope Is Risen!” Schola Cantorum Franciscana

Academic Catalog

View the Sacred Music Program on the Undergraduate Catalog

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Beyond the Classroom
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Fine Arts Society

This society has been formed for the purpose of further educating the students of Franciscan University through exposure to the fine arts. We will endeavor to provide opportunities for the student body to attend cultural/fine arts events off campus (primarily in Pittsburgh, PA) and promote on-campus fine arts events.

Department Faculty
Dr. Monica Anderson

Dr. Monica Anderson

Professor
Department Chair

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Fr. Stephen Concordia

Visiting Assistant Professor

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Dr. Jessica Ewell

Dr. Jessica Ewell

Associate Professor

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Professor Linus Meldrum

Professor Linus Meldrum

Associate Professor

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Pr. John Haynes Walker

Prof. John Walker

Assistant Professor

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Professor Nicholas Will

Nicholas Will

Assistant Professor

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