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El Pasoan's music to be played during Sept. 26 papal Mass

El Pasoan's song to be played at papal Mass Saturday

EL PASO, Texas - As a toddler, Peter M. Kolar would bang his hands on a toy piano, trying to coax out any kind of melody from the instrument.

But it seems the toy was designed more to make noise and keep children occupied than bring beautiful music alive.

The toy instrument ended up getting him hooked on music anyway, leading him to learn to play music by ear.

"One of the first songs that I picked up playing by ear was the 'Star Wars' theme," Kolar said with a smile.

By second grade he had played for his own First Communion Mass and he would take formal piano lessons.

Not surprising considering he came from a family that just happened to play in a polka band during the week and along with the choir during Sunday Mass.

The morning of Sept. 26, Pope Francis will celebrate Mass during the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and one of Kolar's pieces will be performed.

It just may be the biggest moment of his musical career.

Kolar, a native of Detroit, told ABC-7 it's an honor to have his piece, "Miss Luna: Lamb of God," played during a crucial part of Mass.

"While the pope is breaking the bread … -- the consecrated host --  we will be singing my piece 'O, Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.' So to have my piece that is the musical vehicle of that prayer is pretty tremendous."

The acclaimed bilingual piece has been chosen by several dioceses and archdioceses as an official setting during Mass.

"You never imagine something like this," Kolar said. "As a composer, as a professional musician who writes a song, you think 'maybe one day it'd be cool if they sang it in my parish.'… You're like 'wow, that's my piece, that's my melody. I wrote that.'"

The song garnered more attention, being performed and sung in more parishes, then large conferences and gatherings, and then something like this weekend.

"To have it in the papal liturgy - where it's going to be on a world platform, on the world stage -- and in front of our holy pontiff -- that's stratospheric in terms of just the honor behind it. What a great privilege," Kolar said.

Kolar said he would have loved to see his piece performed live in front of the pope, but chose not to. 

Seeing as its being performed at the World Meeting of Families, he decided to stay home and watch it in the company of his wife and two daughters.

During the week he is a senior editor of Hispanic music and publications for World Library Publications. He also is active in the Catholic Diocese of El Paso as a liturgical consultant and coordinator for its music ministry formation program. He also is the director of the El Paso Diocesan Choir.

But whenever he gets the chance, he creates his own music behind the piano. He can play other instruments but piano is his favorite.

His talents have been recognized and he says he has had numerous original pieces published.

The Mass will take place at 8:30 a.m. Mountain Time on Saturday at Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.
More On Kolar From WLP Bio

After graduating from St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, Peter went on to study music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in composition. He resides now in El Paso, Texas, where he continues his full-time work for WLP while remaining active in the diocese as a liturgical consultant and coordinator for its music ministry formation program. Peter sits on the board of directors for the Southwest Liturgical Conference, and is the director of the El Paso Diocesan Choir.

In 2012, after years of concentration in other aspects of ministry and publishing, Peter revisited his passion for piano and released a much-anticipated classical CD, "Variations", a solo album showcasing his talents as a gifted performer and composer. The CD's playlist features Peter's masterful arrangements of sacred hymns, as well as his own works. Due to its inspired originality and classical appeal, "Variations" has earned widespread praise and positive reviews.

In addition to his solo CD, various other songs and arrangements by Peter are available through WLP, notably the acclaimed bilingual Mass setting "Misa Luna" (chosen by several dioceses and archdioceses as an official setting), the bilingual intercessions "Oración de los Fieles", and the best-selling "El Señor Es Compasivo", a serene, bilingual setting of Psalm 103.

In 2004, Peter was commissioned to write the theme song for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, one of the largest annual gatherings of Catholics in the world. The result of that effort was the hit anthem, "Healing Balm", which uses contemporary beats, pop styles, and rap in a compelling song for mission and sending. You can hear "Healing Balm" sung by artists Danielle Rose and Tony Alonso with "PK" himself performing the spoken rap on the CD "God Is My Rock".

Before moving to El Paso, Peter served for 14 years as the Music Director at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Chicago, Illinois, where he led its renowned Marimba Ensemble. Performances by the Holy Cross Marimba Ensemble under his direction include appearances at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, NPM conventions, and Chicago's Symphony Center. Though no longer actively involved in the group, Peter continues to do guest appearances with the Marimba Ensemble, collaborating as recently as 2012 for a performance in Los Angeles. Under his tenure, the Marimba Ensemble released two recordings, "Marimbas Fantásticas, Volume I" and "Marimbas Fantásticas, Volume II", both available from WLP.

A respected composer and arranger, Peter has contributed much to today's liturgical repertoire and ministerial landscape. One of his significant contributions has been his notated piano accompaniments to Spanish-language pieces. In addition, Peter has gained a reputation as a skillful instructor on authentically emulating Hispanic styles and rhythms on the keyboard. Peter remains a dedicated and sought-after bilingual clinician in the areas of liturgy, music, and ministry. He appears frequently at various events, conferences, and showcases nationwide.


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