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 and directs the Catholic Institute of 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, the role of Gregorian chant in pastoral ministry and religious education, and the work of William Mahrt. 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. 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 has established a schola cantorum and directs them in weekly rehearsals, preparing them for solemn Masses and Vespers. 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.”