Charles Jurgensmeier, SJ
I am proud to be born in Los Angeles and raised in Vista, a city in north San Diego County. I studied piano at an early age and sang in various choirs in primary and high school. While in high school I decided to pursue a career as a musician. Although I knew I desired to study music, I did not know exactly where I would study. I went to a local community college and started my studies. In my second year I was invited to sing in an all-collegiate honor choir. The conductor of this ensemble was Paul Salamunovich, the choral director from Loyola Marymount. I was so impressed that I decided to apply to LMU. I studied conducting with him and knew I made the right choice. I enjoyed my time at the university and I came into contact with the Jesuits. I did not know very much about the order but I was impressed that their members studied and taught a wide variety of subjects. They also help me to further deepen my faith through the liturgies and retreats I attended. I applied to the order during my senior year and was accepted.
I was able to continue my musical studies throughout my formation as a Jesuit scholastic. I conducted the choirs for our communal masses as well as our diaconate and presbyteral ordination masses during my studies. After my priestly ordination I studied and received a Licentiate in Sacred Theology. My thesis centered on the presence of Christ in the Eucharistic hymnody of John and Charles Wesley. I wanted to continue my musical studies and I was given permission. I began my doctoral studies in Sacred Choral Music at the University of Southern California. Upon finishing my studies, I applied for a position with the Fine and Performing Arts faculty at Creighton University. I was there for ten years, during which I conducted the University Chorus and Chamber Choir, taught music history and was also the musical and vocal director the department’s musical productions. I also was granted tenure from the university. I was approached by a couple of Jesuits from Loyola University in Chicago about the possibility of my going there. Upon much prayer and reflection, I decided to go to Loyola. I spent the last twelve years, continuing to conduct the Chamber Choir and teach music history and music appreciation. I served the department as the Director of Music. Since several of our students would participate in music ministries in their parishes, I came up with the idea of a degree in music with a concentration in Sacred Music. It was proposed to the faculty of the department as well as to the Dean of the college and the Provost. It was approved. We get several students each year for that degree; many of them work in music ministry in their parishes and a few have gone on to graduate studies in Sacred Music.
I am here in the Jesuit Community at LMU for this year. I am on sabbatical and am continuing my studies on the liturgical music of Johann Valentin Rathgeber, OSB. He lived and composed music during the first half of the eighteenth century in a monastery in upper Bavaria. He was prolific and composed music in a style that was lighter in style and had good melodies—reflecting the new musical taste emerging from that of the late Baroque.