Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka, D.M.A.

Associate Professor of Music/Director of Sacred Music


D.M.A. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

M.M. University of Nebraska-Lincoln

B.S. North Dakota State University

Download Curriculum Vitae

Jennifer Donelson-Nowicka is an associate professor and the director of sacred music at St. Patrick’s Seminary, where she holds the William P. Mahrt chair in sacred music. 

She serves on the board of the Church Music Association of America (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. She has organized and presented papers at academic conferences on Charles Tournemire, the work of Msgr. Richard Schuler, and the role of Gregorian chant in pastoral ministry and religious education. She was a co-organizer of the Sacra Liturgia conferences in New York (2015) and San Francisco (2022), and has presented papers at Sacra Liturgia in New York, London, Milan, and San Francisco. The sometime president, she remains a board member of the Society for Catholic Liturgy. Donelson-Nowicka serves as a Consultant to the USCCB’s Committee on Divine Worship.

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, 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. She founded and directed the Metropolitan Catholic Chorale, and 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. She has taught extensively for religious orders, including the contemplative sisters at the Monastery of St. Edith Stein in Brooklyn 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.

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.”

Conference/Workshop Presentations

“Emotion, Intellect, and Will: The Fruits of Sacred Music in the Spiritual Life,” Sacra Liturgia San Francisco, St. Patrick’s Seminary, Menlo Park, California – June 29, 2022

Schola Director, Workshops on Chironomy, CMAA Sacred Music Colloquium, Hagerstown, Maryland – June 20–25, 2022

“Gregorian Modality and Psalm Tones,” Mary Jaharis Center for Byzantine Art & Culture at Hellenic College Holy Cross, Boston, Massachusetts – April 9, 2022

Clinician, “Sacred Music Study Day,” St. Agnes Cathedral, Rockville Centre, New York – “Ecclesial Legislation and Sacred Music: Sources for Reconciliation or Unhelpful Proof-Texts?” Annual Conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy, Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana – September 24, 2021

Selected Publications

“Messiaen and Tournemire,” chapter forthcoming in Messiaen in Context, ed. Robert Sholl, Cambridge University Press

“Emotion, Intellect, and Will: The Fruits of Sacred Music in the Spiritual Life,” chapter forthcoming in the proceedings of Sacra Liturgia San Francisco

“A Major Quartet: Music Among the Four Pillars of Seminarian Formation,” Adoremus Bulletin, May 2021

“The Sacred Liturgy as a Primary Source for the Artist’s Imagination,” Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, Spring 2018, 91–109.

“Sacred Music Renewal Fifty Years after Musicam Sacram,” Sacred Music 144.2 (Summer 2017), 7–15.

“The Cultural Blossoming of the 20th-Century Chant Revival: Gregorian Chant in Charles Tournemire’s L’Orgue Mystique,” Chant and Culture: Proceedings of the Conference of the Gregorian Institute of Canada, ed. Barbara Swanson and Armin Karim (Ottawa: Institute of Mediæval Music, 2014), 205–229.