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The Catholic Liturgical Music Scholars Program

Unique among colleges, our Catholic Liturgical Musical Scholars form the core of our three choirs for Masses, liturgies, and an array of concerts throughout the academic year.

Going to Sunday Morning “Choir” Mass at DeSales is an amazing experience. Surrounded by the vibrant blue stained-glass of our beautiful chapel, the majestic pipe organ and trained choirs heighten the inspiring homilies and reverent presiding of our campus priests. Want to sleep in? The "Candlelight" Mass offers a gentle atmosphere and reflective music to enhance this beautiful way to end the day.

For all Mass times, see

At DeSales, we believe that our students deserve beautiful, powerful, and inspirational Masses and liturgies where high quality music is integral. The Catholic Liturgical Music Scholars (CLMS) Program makes that happen.  

  • Twelve talented singers receive the CLMS award, the second largest scholarship offered by the University. This opportunity is unique among colleges—since DeSales does not offer a major in music, these singers come to study any other academic discipline and largely finance their education by means of this generous scholarship. 
  • The Catholic Liturgical Music Scholars form the core of our three choirs for Masses, liturgies, and an array of concerts, both sacred and secular, throughout the academic year:
    • Gaudeamus, our perennially sold-out candlelit celebration of Advent and Christmas celebrates the joys of Advent and the Christmas season.
    • The Annual Spring Concert takes on many forms and styles ranging from choral masterworks with orchestra to themed programs of modern and secular music.
    • Compline (Night Prayer) is sung every Thursday night at 9:00 pm during the Fall and Spring semesters — evocative Gregorian chants bring the work of our day to a calm and peaceful close. 
  • Acclaimed choral conductor Dr. Ryan Mullaney leads and inspires our three choirs accompanied by Dr. Dennis Varley, who also serves as organist/pianist for our Sunday Masses. Private voice lessons (part of the CLMS award) are taught by nationally hailed soprano, Rebecca Myers. Learn more about Rebecca at (Note: the content on this link is not maintained by DeSales University and will open in a new window.)

Learn what it's like to be a Catholic Liturgical Music Scholar

Masses, Compline and Special Liturgies

Our outstanding three-choir program is at the core of the University’s musical and spiritual life.
Learn about our performances
Come Sing at DeSales University
DeSales Chorale and Ryan Mullaney, DMA
Choirs on Campus
The DeSales University Chorale, Schola Cantorum, and Liturgical Choirs are the vocal highlight of campus ministry.
DeSales Austin Pipe Organ
Where We Perform
Our Austin Pipe Organ and Steinway Concert Piano are the crown jewels of our extraordinary acoustical spaces.
DeSales Liturgical Scholarships Available
Scholarships We Offer
Substantial financial awards are available for students who share their gifts of song with DeSales University.
Performances in our acoustically magnificent Connelly Chapel range from Gregorian Chants, to masterworks of the Renaissance, to masterpieces of contemporary choral writing, and are often accompanied by our new majestic Austin pipe organ.
Please see the video transcript on YouTube.
Select performance videos of the DeSales University Liturgical Music Program.
DeSales Concert Steinway

Make a Gift

Creation of the Catholic Liturgical Music Scholars program was made possible by an anonymous gift of $500,000 given in the belief that inspired liturgy, in which music is integral, is the most powerful of prayers, capable of transforming the hearts and souls of those in its presence. An additional, anonymous gift of $175,000 established two endowments to support CLMS:

  • The Madison-Varley Endowment provides for guest soloists and orchestral musicians for our performances, enhances our facilities, funds concert travel, and helps with other needs.
  • The Play it Forward Endowment presents a unique opportunity for CLM Scholars who complete the program to apply for a $2,500 cash award to “play it forward”—that is, to go forth and contribute to the musical life of their parishes, churches, schools, or communities.
Donate Now

What is it like to be a Catholic Liturgical Music Scholar?

Each year, DeSales accepts three new CLM Scholars thus maintaining a core of 12 singers. It is not required that you be a Catholic to receive this award--singers of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome in our program.

A typical week as a CLM Scholar includes:

  • Singing the 10:30 am “choir” Mass as part of the Liturgical Choir in our acoustically marvelous chapel accompanied by the majestic Austin pipe organ.
  • Rehearsing twice weekly with the DeSales Chorale and Schola Cantorum to prepare a complement of sacred and secular concerts and events.
  • Participating in Compline (sung Night Prayer) on Thursday nights—a new addition to the prayer life on our campus consisting of evocative Gregorian chants.
  • Receiving private weekly voice lessons from acclaimed faculty who focus on the art of choral singing.
  • Training as cantors and choir section leaders via a monthly “practicum”.

The $2,500 Play it Forward Award

One of our DeSales University Salesian core values is humility, defined as being “grateful for the gifts given to us, crediting God for them and blessing the world with our expression of those gifts placed at the service of others.”

It is in that spirit that all CLMS students who submit a proposal, and which is then approved by our faculty, will receive a $2,500 cash award upon graduation. The proposal will state the manner in which the student agrees to give back musically to their parishes, churches, or communities—as cantor, choir member, etc.

Learn more and apply to be a CLM Scholar


While liturgical music has often struggled to live up to the quality and beauty the Eucharist requires, we can promote its revival by investing in a solid musical education for clergy and laity.

— Pope Francis