Acclaimed music scholars to join Notre Dame faculty

Author: Michael O. Garvey


Peter Jeffery and Margot Fassler, specialists in sacred music and liturgy, will join the music and theology faculties of the University of Notre Dame, according to John T. McGreevy, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

“Our masters in sacred music program is built on a great collaborative relation between the theology and the music departments,”said John Cavadini, chair of Notre Dame’s theology department.“These distinguished scholars, one in each of those departments, will bring our collaboration to the next level of excellence, to the benefit, ultimately, of our students.”

Fassler has been appointed the Keough-Hesburgh Professor of Music History and Liturgy effective January 2010, and Jeffery has been appointed the Michael P. Grace Chair in Medieval Studies effective July 2009.

Fassler, a scholar of medieval and American sacred music, and the liturgy of the Latin Middle Ages, is at present the Henry Luce III fellow in theology at the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, N.J.Earlier, she served for more than 10 years as director of the Yale Institute of Sacred Music.

She is the author or editor of numerous articles and books including,“Gothic Song: Victorine Sequences and Augustinian Reform in Twelfth-Century Paris.”She also has made documentary films on sacred music, including"Joyful Noise: Psalm Singing in Community."

Her recently completed book on the cult of the Virgin Mary at Chartres will be published by Yale University Press next year.
Fassler’s chair has been funded by a gift from Notre Dame board chairman emeritus Donald Keough, his wife, Marilyn “Mickie” Keough, and their children. It is named for the Keoughs and Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., the University’s president from 1952 to 1987.

“These are seminal appointments for Notre Dame, and we are blessed to have Peter and Margot joining us,”said the University’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.“I want to especially thank Don and Mickie Keough. We are eternally grateful to them for making this possible.”

The Keough-Hesburgh Professorships were established in 2006, and the first chair was awarded last year to the renowned economist William Evans.

“It was Father Hesburgh’s dream, which Mickie and I share, that the Keough-Hesburgh chairs be occupied by the finest Catholic scholars in their fields,” Keough said. “Margot’s academic credentials speak for themselves, and we are delighted that the entire Notre Dame community will be the beneficiary of her scholarship.”

Jeffery, who is Fassler’s husband,is a musicologist specializing in medieval chant and the history of liturgical music. Currently a visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, he was previously the Andrew W. Mellon faculty fellow in the humanities at Harvard.In 1987, he won the"Genius Award"fellowship from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Jeffery is the author of six books and numerous articles in publications of musical, theological and liturgical scholarship.He received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2000. A member of the North American Academy of Liturgy, he also is a Benedictine oblate of St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minn.

The master of sacred music degree program was established at Notre Dame in 2005. Designed to prepare students for liturgical music ministry, the program follows the recommendations of"Music in Catholic Worship,"a document issued by the liturgy committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. It includes studies in music, liturgy and pastoral ministry, and participating graduate students choose between organ or choral concentrations.

A small number of Notre Dame undergraduates previously pursued bachelor’s degrees in music with a concentration in sacred music, and numerous graduates work in leadership positions at churches across the country and abroad. The new program has greatly enhanced the University’s efforts and visibility in the field.

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