ichard Connolly is an Australian composer who has spent a lot of time elsewhere: four years in Rome in his late teens and early twenties as a student for the priesthood at Propaganda Fide College; 12 years from 1988-2000 living in Somerset, England, near the Benedictine Abbey of Downside, where he joined the monks daily in their Gregorian chant at conventual Mass; and, in between, on cultural assignments in Europe and the U.S. during a 32-year broadcasting career with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
At his 80th Birthday party in 2007 he noted, in jest but not inaccurately, that he had been "musician to two popes."
In 1949-50 he had been a member of the Gregorian Schola that sang whenever Pope Pius XII celebrated Mass in Saint Peter's Basilica.
In 1970 he was commissioned as composer and music director when Pope Paul VI made the first Papal visit to Sydney.
In 2008 (World Youth Day, Sydney) there was a third papal involvement when his Entrance Fanfare and Choral Sanctus as well as two of his hymns were used when Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass in Saint Mary's Cathedral, Sydney.
His early training in piano and theory with the Josephite Sisters of his parish was followed by organ study in the Sydney seminary with Fr. Joseph Muset (Organist of Barcelona Cathedral, but for seven years an exile in Australia from civil war in Spain) .
At Propaganda Fide College in Rome Richard was variously organist and choral director.
He studied harmony and counterpoint with Maestro Rev. N. Praglia and took courses in sacred polyphony and chant at the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, the latter with Dom Hebert Desroquettes (who also directed the papal Gregorian Schola in Saint Peter's).
He did not proceed to the priesthood, but returned to more studies in Australia, and took an arts degree from Sydney University, majoring in Latin and History.
Although his official career with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation was exclusively in spoken word, his musical side led to extra-curricular engagements from TV drama and documentary producers for soundtrack music, themes, etc.
By the 1960s and '70s he was composing for film and theatre productions as well as radio and TV, with credits for major BBC work and for RTE (Ireland) as well as ABC.
In 1971, a 6-month Churchill Fellowship enabled him to study film and TV incidental music at the BBC and in Europe.
Throughout these years he was always occupied with liturgical composition, including several Masses and most notably the 25 hymns he made with the poet James McAuley, many of them now classics in Australian worship, not only for Catholics, but others as well.
In 2009, the University of Notre Dame, Australia, confered the honorary degree of Doctor of Arts in recognition of his "extraordinary contributions to Catholic liturgical music in Australia."
In retirement, he has worked as a parish organist in both England and Australia, and now, settled in his native Sydney, he continues to devote his time to liturgical composition.
CanticaNOVA Publications is pleased to offer music by Richard Connolly in our catalog:
- Mass of Our Lady, Help of Christians (Cantor version and SATB version) CNP Catalog #3126