From Rome to the Dome: J.J. Wright Presents “Lenten Music through the Ages”

Author: Costanza Montanari

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The Notre Dame Rome Global Gateway, in partnership with the Centre for Italian Studies, the Notre Dame Alumni Association, Campus Ministry, and the Program in Sacred Music at the University of Notre Dame, are happy to announce the second appointment with the Rome Book Club Journey to Italy – Viaggio in Italia.

The first series took the audience on an imaginary journey with Dante Alighieri in his representation of Hell. This second series, entitled “Lenten Music Through the Ages,” invites you into the world of sacred music and how the artistic, religious, and intellectual communities in Rome helped to cultivate one of the most creative environments for the development of sacred music in history. 

Starting on March 10th, 2021, “Lenten Music through the Ages” will last four weeks and will be led by J.J. Wright, Director of the University of Notre Dame Folk Choir in the Department of Campus Ministry. Wright completed his D.M.A. in Conducting from the University of Notre Dame’s Program in Sacred Music. During his final year in the program, his studies brought him to Rome, where he researched and wrote his dissertation on translating the early Baroque oratorio to jazz. 

“In this series, we’ll begin with the historical context that led to this sustained creative period,” says Wright “with a focus on Gregorian Chant, Renaissance Polyphony, and the sacred music forms that developed out of chant and polyphony in the 17th and 18th centuries. We’ll discuss the myriad cultural forces that contributed to a deepening and broadening of religious devotion and sacred music practice.”

Wright will be accompanied in this journey across centuries by experts from each period. Guest speakers will include Professor Peter Jeffery, Michael P. Grace Chair in Medieval Studies and Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology, Professor Margot Fassler, Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy, and Director of Sacred Music at Notre Dame, Professor Mark Doerries, Artistic Director of the Notre Dame Children's Choir, Children’s Organ Training Program, and the Sacred Music Academy, and Dr. Patrick Kronner, Director, Notre Dame Magnificat Choir.

The last of the four appointments will take place during Holy Week, and the Notre Dame Folk Choir will host a creative workshop on its newest project centred around the Passion. The live event will be moderated by J.J. Wright and  feature students from the choir and Emorja Roberson, director of Voices of Faith Gospel Choir and D.M.A. student in the Program of Sacred Music. 

In addition to several guided listening examples, “Lenten Music Through the Ages” will include commentaries, videos by J.J. Wright, and weekly interactive Zoom sessions. The program is free and open to all, and is hosted exclusively on ThinkND, Notre Dame’s open, online learning community brought to you by the Alumni Association. 

We are thrilled to be launching this new series that, among its many merits, helps bring under the spotlight the deep connections between Notre Dame and the city of Rome. These connections are vivid and meaningful to this day, and represent a richness that we are proud to be sharing with many friends across the ND community.” says Silvia Dall’Olio, executive director of the Rome Global Gateway.