Dr. Kwasniewski's Musical Background
In addition to being a teacher and writer, Kwasniewski has enjoyed a parallel career as a choirmaster, cantor, and composer of about 150 works of music.
After studying composition and conducting with Roy Horton and voice with Carol Horton at Delbarton School in Morristown, New Jersey, Dr. Kwasniewski became assistant choir director at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California (1990–1994). He served as director of the Schola Cantorum at Old St. John’s Catholic Church in Silver Spring, Maryland (1994–1998), director of music at the International Theological Institute in Gaming, Austria (1999–2006), and founding choirmaster and schola director at Wyoming Catholic College (2007–2018).
Kwasniewski’s Mass settings, motets, hymns, carols, antiphons, and acclamations have received numerous performances from 1990 to the present. The Mass settings are Missa Spiritus Domini (1994), Missa Spe Salvi (1995, rev. 2012), Missa Brevis à 3 (1997), Missa Hereditas Mihi à 3 (2016), Missa Honorificentia Populi Nostri (2017), and Missa Rex in Æternum (2018). His Seven Mandatum Antiphons (2010) were dedicated to Arvo Pärt on the occasion of his 75th birthday; the maestro personally accepted the dedication.
Full-length concerts of his music have been given by the Ecclesia Choir under Timothy Woods in June 2016 at St. John Cantius Catholic Church in Chicago, and by the Vittoria Ensemble under Rick Wheeler in April 2018 at three locations in the Denver area. The Scottish ensemble Cantiones Sacrae and the English ensemble Cantus Magnus have performed a number of Kwasniewski’s works. The latter ensemble recorded a CD, Divine Inspiration, featuring works by Kwasniewski and Nicholas Wilton.
Kwasniewski has also written a three-movement wind quintet Fire and Flame, premiered in Lander, Wyoming, by the Antero Winds on January 15, 2012; Ave Maria for chorus, winds, and strings; a violin sonata; organ accompaniments for English plainchant; and pieces for brass quartet and string quartet.
He has published numerous articles on music, especially on the recovery and renewal of sacred music in the contemporary Church.
Our Lord chose to give His divine life to us through the perpetual hymn of praise offered up by His Church—above all, in the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. If we are aware of the stupendous magnitude, the awesome, holy, divine, immortal, life-creating mysteries we adore and receive, how could we not yearn to give to the Lord all we can and the very best we can—all that is within our hearts, of course, but also the so-called ‘externals’: the most beautiful works of art, be it the church itself and its furnishings, the vestments and vessels, the ceremonies, or the music, which has such a profound effect on our inner life. Everything should be noble, uplifting, in harmony with the Church’s tradition, pointing unambiguously to the heavenly, the eternal, the divine. It has always been my desire and prayer that the music I write would give glory to God and raise minds and hearts to Him, whom we long to see face to face.
- Dr. Peter Kwasniewski