Legendary liturgical musician, St. Paul native Richard Proulx, to receive honorary degree, hear his own music performed at May 3 concert

Nationally renowned composer, conductor and music editor Richard Proulx, whom Modern Liturgy Magazine has called "the most significant liturgical composer of the last 20 years," will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of St. Thomas and be present for a performance of his work at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3, in the university’s Chapel of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Richard Proulx

The UST Liturgical Choir, conducted by founder Robert Strusinski, will give a concert performance of "The Pilgrim," Proulx’s 1980 medieval liturgical music-drama for Eastertide. (Of historical note: The Liturgical Choir also performed this work’s full theatrical production with the St. Thomas and College of St. Catherine Theater Department in 1982.)

This spring’s concert performance is free and open to the public, but a free-will offering will be taken to benefit the music school at Jesucristo Resucitado (Risen Christ), a parish in San Felix, Venezuela, supported as a mission of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

A reception follows the concert on the chapel plaza, weather permitting, at about 4:15 p.m.

Proulx, a St. Paul native, attended parochial schools, the then-named MacPhail College of Music and the University of Minnesota, with further studies at the American Boychoir School of Princeton, St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville and the Royal School of Church Music in England.

From 1980 to 1994, Proulx was organist and music director at Chicago’s Cathedral of the Holy Name, where he established an innovative music program and founded the Cathedral Singers and an independent recording ensemble. He has composed more than 300 works, including congregational music in every form, sacred and secular choral works, song cycles, operas and instrumental and organ music. He served as a consultant for the Episcopal Church’s The Hymnal 1982, the New Yale Hymnal, the Methodist Hymnal and Worship, the hymnal commonly used in Roman Catholic churches throughout the United States, and he has contributions in the Mennonite Hymnal and the Presbyterian Hymnal.

From 1970 to 1980 he served at St. Thomas Church in Medina, near Seattle, Wash., where he directed three choirs and a chamber orchestra and established a tradition of liturgical handbell ringing. He also was organist at Temple de Hirsch Sinai and other churches in the Seattle-Tacoma area. Early in his career (1953-1968) he spent 15 years as organist at the Church of the Holy Childhood in St. Paul.

Proulx has received dozens of awards, including an opera commission by National Endowment for the Arts, the Gold Medal of the Archdiocese of Chicago, an honorary doctorate from General Theological Seminary in New York City, and the Bene Award from Modern Liturgy Magazine. He was named Pastoral Musician of the Year in 1995 by the National Association of Pastoral Musicians and Composer of the Year in 2006 by the American Guild of Organists.