Emory student composed Pope Francis mass musicEmory doctoral student Tony Alonso was commissioned to compose original music for the pope's visit. Photo from Emory University/Ann Borden.
When the pope celebrates the first of three public masses in Washington on Wednesday, he’ll be hearing the liturgical music of Emory University doctoral student Tony Alonso.
Alonso, a PhD student in the Laney Graduate School’s Graduate Division of Religion, was tapped to compose liturgical music to canonize 18th century Spanish missionary Father Junipero Serra, according to an Emory press release.
The 35-year-old Alonso’s music will mark the first canonization of a saint to take place in the U.S. It all takes place outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington. Pope Francis is also scheduled to celebrate masses in New York City and Philadelphia during his visit.
Alonso said he was shocked to receive the invitation to compose music for Psalm 96, “Proclaim His Marvelous Deeds/Cuenten las Maravillas del Señor.” The press release described it as “a responsorial psalm to be sung by a choir, cantor and congregation between the first and second readings at the pope’s special mass.”
“My father is from Cuba,” Alonso explained. “To be composing something for the first Latin American pope — who, ironically, will be visiting Cuba before he makes his first visit to the United States, where he will be celebrating a mass in Spanish — touches me on an especially personal level.”
Alonso, who is working on his Emory dissertation proposal, joked that the commission should count as a dissertation. He’ll be in Washington for Wednesday’s mass. You can read the full story about Alonso and his composition here.