Catholicism and the Arts: Faithful Musical Modernisms: Poulenc, Villette, Langlais, and Arvo Pärt (A Lecture with Paul French)

Cath and the Arts - Lecture [S16]

Wednesday, 16 March 2016
4:00PM - 5:00PM
Cuneo Hall, Room 417
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

This event is free and open to the public.

Faithful Musical Modernisms: Poulenc, Villette, Langlais, and Arvo Pärt
A lecture by Paul French, Music Director of the William Ferris Chorale

Be it tragedy, conflict, ill health, or physical setback, the four composers represented on our March 17th concert at Madonna della Strada Chapel suffered mightily, and yet were impelled to compose powerful sacred works in testament to their faith.

Francis Poulenc, lived his early life with irreverent abandon, creating sparkling works for stage and recital, and yet the tragic death of a close friend in 1935, the death of his father, and the bleak atmosphere of pre-WWII France send his world cascading off course, returning him to the Church. One week after a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Rocamadour and the icon of the Black Madonna, he had completed his Litanies a la Vierge Noir (Litanies to the Black Madonna), the first of a serious output of sacred compositions.

Blind from the age of two, Jean Langlais was a composer, organist, and influential teacher who held the prestigious post of organist at the Church of Sainte-Clotilde in Paris for 42 years, composing monumental and complex works for organ and chorus.

Pierre Villette classmate at the Paris Conservatory was Pierre Boulez, but their musical lives were in mirrored opposition. Villette was dogged by ill health and had a lung removed while still in his twenties, forcing him to retreat from Paris to a warmer climate, and thus leaving him to toil in near anonymity, and yet he crafted some of the most luminous sacred motets of the latter third of the 20th century.

For Arvo Pärt, the Soviet invasion of his native Estonia in 1944 was the catalyst to move him to the Orthodox Church and to devise a new method of composition. A sacred, highly structured art that is based on a purity of simple processes, purging the ego from the process of composition and ultimately pointing to God, Pärt says this of his work: “It is true that religion has a very important role in my composition, but how it really works, I am not able to describe.”

This lecture focused on these four composers, their works, and the faith that proved to be the source of their creative inspiration.

Please follow the link for more information on Paul French

Please follow the link for more information on the William Ferris Chorale

Catholicism and the Arts: Faithful Musical Modernisms: Poulenc, Villette, Langlais, and Arvo Pärt (A Performance by the William Ferris Chorale)

Cath and the Arts - Performance [S16]

Thursday, 17 March 2016
7:00PM - 8:30PM
Madonna della Strada Chapel
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

This event is free and open to the public.

Faithful Musical Modernisms: Poulenc, Villette, Langlais, and Arvo Pärt
A performance by the William Ferris Chorale, under the direction of Paul French

As part of the Hank Center's Catholicism and the Arts series this spring, we are pleased to have sponsored a special performance of selected works from Francis Poulenc, Pierre Villette, Jean Langlais, and Arvo Pärt. These works were performed by the William Ferris Chorale, under the direction of Paul Fench - composer, conductor, and music director of the chorale.

Be it tragedy, conflict, ill health, or physical setback, the four composers represented in this concert suffered mightily, and yet were impelled to compose powerful sacred works in testament to their faith.

Join us for a performance of these sacred works at Loyola's Madonna della Strada Chapel, and hear how some of the greatest musical minds of the 20th century witnessed to the eternal struggle between faith and tragedy.


Lauda Jerusalem Dominum - Jean Langlais (1907-1991)
Flutes (solo for organ) - Jean Langlais
     Eric Budzynski, organist
Litanies à la Vierge Noir - Francis Poulenc (1899-1963)
Quatre Petites Prières de Saint Francois D’Assisse -  Francis Poulenc
Hymne à la Vierge - Pierre Villette (1926-1998)
Salve Regina - Pierre Villette
O Quam Amabilis Es - Pierre Villette


Berliner Messe - Arvo Pärt (b. 1935)
     Veni Sancte Spiritus
     Agnus Dei
Caritas et Amore - Randall Stroope (b. 1953)

"Viriditas: Finding God in All Things" The 2015 Catholicism and the Arts Lecture by Fr. William H. McNichols

Catholicism and the Arts (McNichols 2015)

Thursday, 10 September 2015
3:30PM - 5:00PM
Palm Court, Mundelein Center
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

This event is free and open to the public!

The Hank Center is excited to receive an icon from the renowned iconographer Fr. Bill McNichols. Fr. Bill has “written” an icon for Loyola University called The New Pentecost of Viriditas. The icon is a contemplation of God’s continual creativity in the world and in the Church. It is made up of six pieces that include the Holy Spirit from Genesis hovering over the void and braking out into a flood of light and a gathering of three Saints—St. Hildegarde of Bingen, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Ignatius of Loyola—who draw us to participate in this whirl of light. The Latin term “Viridatas” means “greening,” and icon invites us to contemplate our spiritual vocation to give witness to environmental sustainability.

According to Fr. McNichols, the icon "shows the vibrant life of the Holy Spirit from Genesis hovering over the void ... alive with a flood of life at the very moment God ... spoke the Words which are ongoing: Let there [be] light. From the activity of this Word all of life as we know it began."

In his lecture, "Virititas: Finding God in All Things," Fr. McNichols discussed the artistic, spiritual, and intellectual process of 'writing' an icon, and specifically his process for 'writing' Loyola's The New Pentecost of Viriditas icon. Took place on Thursday, September 10th in Loyola's Palm Court in the Mundelein Center.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015
9:30PM - 10:00PM
Madonna della Strada Chapel
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

This event is free and open to the public. All are welcome!

The Hank Center and the Loyola's Sacramental Life community celebrated a special Taize prayer with Loyola's new icon The New Pentecost of Viriditas. Taizé Prayer is filled with song, scripture and silent meditation. It is based on the Liturgy of the Hours evening prayer and is modeled on the style as practiced in the Taizé Community in France. Those who attend regularly find a profound peace and tranquility in this style of prayer.

Catholicism and the Arts: Performance of Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge

Catholicism and the Arts: Performance of Flannery O

Thursday, 19 March 2015
Kathleen Mullady Theatre
Centennial Forum Student Union
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

This event is open to the public. Tickets are $2 for Loyola students with IDs and $7 for the general public. Tickest can be purchased at:

New York City based Compagnia De' Colombari is pleased to announce the four city national tour of Flannery O'Connor's Everything That Rises Must Converge, created for the stage and directed by Karin Coonrod.

Everything That Rises Must Converge is a tragic-comic interracial seat shifting dance by whites and blacks on a moving bus in America's deep south. Playing and speaking out the story verbatim, eight Colombari actors with razor sharp precision create all the characters and all the narration. Georgia's red earth is slammed up against the eternal. O'Connor's voice spread out across the company of actors carries the power of the apocalyptic comedy right into the audience.

Excerpt from Time Out New York's review of the play:
The ensemble is terrific, smoothly slipping in and out of character. It's also gratifying to see so many body types-stout, skinny, short and tall—onstage together, like a tiny village bustling about...dark unsettling magic of O'Connor's art—coming through full force in this exceptionally sensitive translation.



Friday, 10 October 2014 &
Saturday, 11 October 2014
7:30p.m.—The Newhart Family Theater
2nd Floor, Mundelein Center
Lake Shore Campus, Loyola University Chicago

Tickets for these performances are $5 each, and may be purchased from All are welcome to attend these performances!

*mark, performed by George Drance, directed by Luann Jennings, with original music composed by internationally acclaimed, award winning composer Elizabeth Swados, who just completed a successful run Off-Broadway at La MaMa ETC in New York City.

Written during Nero's brutal persecution of the followers of "the Way", the Gospel of Mark was recited in its entirety, giving courage to this community of quiet rebels whose radical compassion threatened the Empire's status quo. The production imagines the Gospel performed by a street artist, and asks what it would be like if our experience in 2014 were the same experience of those in Rome under the madness of Nero?

Actor George Drance, SJ, has performed and directed in over twenty countries on five continents. The work of his New York company, Magis Theatre, has been praised by the New York Times for its artistic skill and daring.

Director Luann Jennings founded the new Arts Ministry at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. She has taught theatre at St. John's University and currently works with students of Baylor University.

Elizabeth Swados has composed, written, and directed issue oriented theatre for over 30 years. Some of her works include the Broadway and international smash hit "Runaways," Obie Award winning "Fragments of a Greek Trilogy," "Alice at the Palace," with Meryl Streep, and "Missionaries," about the four Maryknoll women killed in El Salvador. Her many awards include: five Tony nominations, three Obie Awards, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

In his apostolic exhortation entitled "The Joy of the Gospel" His Holiness Pope Francis writes: "Whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today's world."

For more information, please contact CCIH at 773.508.3820 or

Mr. Richard Austin

Mr. Richard Austin

Lecture: Poetry as Prayer
Wednesday, 12 March 2014
Palm Court, Mundelein Center
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

Performance: Back to Beauty's Giver - Gerard Manley Hopkins
Thursday, 13 March 2014
Palm Court, Mundelein Center
Lake Shore Campus, LUC

These events are open to the public. All are welcome to attend!

The Hank Center for the Catholic Intellectual Heritage was fortunate to be able to bring to campus the noted English actor and performer Richard Austin. Austin’s specialty is the performance of poetry, especially the poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Widely acclaimed as “the finest performer of Hopkins’ poetry today,” Austin contributed to the Hank Center’s annual forum on Catholicism and the Arts by giving a public lecture on “Poetry as Prayer” after which he staged his one-man show “Back to Beauty’s Giver."

Trained at the East 15 Acting School in London, Richard Austin was soon on the stage—England, Wales, Scotland, with world tours to Asia and the Middle East—and on television (e.g. Young Arthur in BBC TV’s The Legend of King Arthur). But he had always had a deep and intensely personal passion for the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, and in the last two decades his chief creative endeavor has been to transmit that passion to others through his performances. He has committed all of Hopkins’s poems to memory and then crafted from them the one-man show “Back to Beauty’s Giver,” which tells the story of Hopkins’s life and spiritual progress through his poetry.

Austin has performed Hopkins’s poetry in Italy, Ireland, England, Wales, and Canada, and here in the US in Philadelphia, Dallas, Spokane, Denver and other venues. His performances of Hopkins have been extraordinarily well received. Noted Hopkins scholar Joseph Feeney, S. J., for example, writes that Hopkins’s poems “cry out for vocal ‘performance’” and that, having heard many performances, “Richard Austin tops them all.” Feeney goes on to add that Austin “has spent years with these poems, tasting them, listening to them, sharing his life with them. He knows their rhythms, their sounds, their meanings.” Bernadette Waterman Ward, reviewing an Austin performance in Dallas for University News, says of him: “More than simply providing a torrent of verbal music, Austin brought the meaning of these complex works into greater intellectual and emotional clarity.” Adds Prof. Loren Wilkinson (Regent College, Vancouver, Canada), “Richard does not simply recite the poetry: he performs it powerfully, with a trained actor’s physical and vocal skills.”

Ms. Delia Surratt

Ms. Delia Surratt

Delia Surratt, professor of Vocal Technique at Loyola University Chicago’s John Felice Rome Center and an acclaimed international vocal artist, offered a free lecture and concert series. She was the first guest of the Catholicism and the Art Series, designed to promote cultural productions, both classical and contemporary, that illuminate the rich heritage of art in Catholic culture.

On March 13th Ms. Surratt gave a free lecture entitled “Unleashed Emotion: Opera’s Transformation of Sacred Music.”

She also prepared a special musical program for the free concert she offered on March 14th.This program contained musical works that date from the sixteenth to the twentieth centuries: Giulio Caccini (1550–1610), Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti (1660–1725), Giuseppe Verdi (1813–1901), Giacomo Puccini (1858–1924) and others.

The California-born Surratt began her musical studies in Los Angeles where she obtained a B.A. in music from Immaculate Heart College and soon after studied at the Music Academy of the West in California and at the Tanglewood  Music Festival in Massachusetts.

Surratt then moved to Italy where she received scholarships to do post-graduate studies at the Santa Cecilia Conservatory in Rome and the Accademia Chigiana in Siena. While there, she studied vocal technique with the renowned Maestro Sona Ardontz and performed at major theatres and concert halls around Europe and Africa.

Performing symphonic and chamber music, as well as an operatic repertoire, Surratt has sung in a plethora of Italian opera houses including La Scala in Milan, Il Regio in Turin, Il Massimo in Palermo, La Fenice in Venice, Il Regio in Parma, and Il Petruzelli in Bari. She has spent three years, in collaboration with the Vatican, as Maestro of Vocal Technique for the boys’ choir of the Sistine Chapel.

Surratt currently sings for national radio and television companies such as NBC and RTSI in America, RAI in Italy, ORTF in France, and ZDF and SR in Germany, along with recordings for Deutsche Grammophon.

In addition, Surratt is a professor of Vocal Technique for the State Conservatory of Music S. Cecilia in Rome and has been a professor of voice for over 30 years  in various state conservatories of music in Italy. She is also a vocal professor for the City School of Music in Viterbo, and for several years worked as an external faculty member of the Catholic University of America in Washington D.C.