C Alexander Peloquin

C Alexander Peloquin
C Alexander Peloquin

C. Alexander Peloquin (1918–1997) was born in Northridge, Massachusetts and was educated at the New England Conservatory and the Tanglewood Institute. During his Tanglewood years, Peloquin appeared as a piano soloist under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. After military service during World War II, Peloquin returned to the USA to begin a long career as a Catholic church musician. He served from 1950 until his retirement in 1991 as Director of Music Ministry at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence, Rhode Island. For 38 years he was a member of the music faculty of Boston College, where he taught courses and conducted the college choirs. Peloquin also directed the Peloquin Chorale, a largely professional group that specialized in performing his own compositions and numerous other innovative choral and liturgical works.


Among Peloquin's numerous career highlights were a 1968 musical collaboration with the poet and author Thomas Merton, directing the choir for a 1979 papal mass in Chicago, and leading the 1980 premiere of Dave Brubeck's "Mass to Hope! A Celebration."


As a composer, Peloquin wrote more than 150 works, most of which were for choral forces. Among his large output of liturgical music was the first post-Vatican II liturgical mass setting (1964) written using an English-language text. The reforms and spirit of Vatican II were hugely influential on his work in general, and as a serious, classically-trained composer, his work, style, and teaching were very influential on other composers creating new liturgical music. Peloquin once said "A lot of religious music today is boring, and I don't think worship calls us to boredom," and this desire for music that was always engaging and inspiring informed his musical language. While the centuries of traditional church music (from Gregorian chant onwards) formed the basis, this was combined with strong influences from jazz and the American concert music of the 20th century (especially Gerhswin, Copland, Bernstein).

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