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Steven C Warner (Matt Cushore)

Steven C Warner forged a successful sacred music career in the years following Vatican II, but the longtime choir director and composer suspects job opportunities for today’s young musicians are severely lacking. Source: ACU.

The American musician, best known for founding and directing the Notre Dame Folk Choir, said the Church’s attitude towards young musicians needed to change.

“In some ways, the structure of the Church is an obstacle in the United States, as well as other countries worldwide,” Warner said.

“If you want to devote your life to sacred music, then you are also entering into a covenant – a career covenant – with the Church, and the institutional church needs to support young people in this career choice.”

Warner’s own pursuit to become a sacred music leader coincided with his arrival at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana. He went from playing guitar in bars to building up the world-famous Notre Dame Folk Choir from scratch. 

In the process of building up a repertoire for a growing folk choir, he mentored and encouraged dozens of young Catholic musicians in the art of sacred music across his 36 years as director.

This month, the renowned musician will share his experiences of nurturing young musicians in a public lecture hosted by the ACU Centre for Liturgy.

During the lecture, on May 20, Warner will also speak about the power of community choirs in helping young people foster their Christian faith, based on his experiences leading the Notre Dame Folk Choir.

Founded by Warner in 1980 to bridge the gap between contemporary compositions of the post-conciliar Church and the repository of traditional choral music, the folk choir continues to serve the University of Notre Dame as one of its principal liturgical choirs. 

In fact, Warner thinks an over-focus on categorising Catholic music according to particular “styles” can be distracting. He is hesitant to use the terms “folk”, “contemporary”, “traditional” or even “praise and worship”, to describe the varying genres of Church music available today. 

“In my lecture, I’ll be glad to discuss these terms – their pitfalls, and their positive applications.”

Details: Register for the Public Lecture with Steven C. Warner at the ACU Centre for Liturgy website.


 Notre Dame Folk Choir’s former director to give public lecture on raising up liturgical musicians (ACU)