Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Palestrina Institute

As friends of great liturgical music, most of you will appreciate this bit of history of sacred music at my own venerable institution of Sacred Heart Major Seminary. As one of the new kids on the block, so to speak, I was thrilled to discover through an online memorial to the late Thomas Martin Kuras that Sacred Heart was once the home of the highly esteemed Palestrina Institute, founded in 1940 by Rene Becker and his son Francis, and funded by the Archdiocese of Detroit. The Institute was founded, says the webpage, to teach sacred music (organ, piano, chant, music theory, solfège, harmony, composition, counterpoint, as well as liturgy, music history and choral conducting) to future ecclesiastical musicians and promote religious music in accordance with the motu proprio of Pope Pius X. Kuras himself studied at Sacred Heart Seminary, where he completed his studies as the Palestrina Institute in 1968, shortly before the Institute was closed in the aftermath of Vatican II. According to the online memorial, the level of music education offered at the Palestrina Institute was “well above” university-level (remember: this was when Sacred Heart was a minor seminary)!

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