Richard Proulx, 1937-2010
Date: February 23, 2010
Richard Proulx, renowned composer and conductor, died Thursday, 18 February 2010 at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. Born in Saint Paul, MN on 3 April 1937, Proulx was Organist and Director of Music from 1980 - 1994 at the Cathedral of the Holy Name in Chicago. During his tenure at Holy Name, he did much to strengthen the Cathedral's outreach to the city it served by establishing an extensive and innovative music program. The concert series, “Music for a Great Space,” involved the Cathedral choirs with many of the finest instrumentalists in the Chicago area. He led the Cathedral choirs on tours through the Midwest in 1982 and 1991, and in Europe in 1988. Proulx was also responsible for the planning and installation of two new mechanical-action organs for the Cathedral – Casavant II/19 (Quebec, 1981) and Flentrop IV/71 (Holland, 1989). Before coming to Chicago, Proulx served for 10 years (1970 – 1980) at Saint Thomas Church, Medina/Seattle, WA, where he directed three choirs and chamber orchestra, established a tradition of liturgical handbell ringing, and was organist at Temple de Hirsch Sinai. Previous positions included Saint Charles Parish, Tacoma, WA; Saint Stephen's Church, Seattle, WA; and 15 years (1953–1968) at Church of The Holy Childhood in Saint Paul, MN.
Richard Proulx was a widely published composer of more than 300 works, including congregational music in every form, sacred and secular choral works, song cycles, two operas, and instrumental and organ music. He served as a consultant for such denominational church hymnals as The Hymnal 1982 (Episcopal Church), New Yale Hymnal, the Methodist Hymnal, Worship II & III, (Roman Catholic Church), and has contributions in the Mennonite Hymnal and the Presbyterian Hymnal. Proulx was a member of The Standing Commission on Church Music of the Episcopal Church and was a founding member of The Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians. He conducted choral festivals and workshops across the country as well as in Canada, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Scotland, Australia, and New Zealand.
Proulx began his musical training with piano studies at age six and benefited from the unique musical training then fostered in Saint Patrick’s Parochial School in Saint Paul, MN, where twice daily music classes and choral singing were emphasized. He attended MacPhail College and the University of Minnesota with further studies undertaken at The American Boychoir School at Princeton, NJ, Saint John's Abbey at Collegeville, MN, and the Royal School of Church Music in England. He was appointed composer-in-residence for 1994–1995 at the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, UT, and was a Visiting Fellow at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, TX. Currently working as a free-lance composer and conductor, he had also been an editorial consultant for numerous music publishers.
In 1994, he received an honorary doctorate from General Theological Seminary in New York City, and a second honorary doctorate in 2009 from the University of Saint Thomas in Saint Paul, MN. In 1989, Proulx was presented the Gold Medal of the Archdiocese of Chicago by the late Joseph Cardinal Bernardin.
Founded in 1991 primarily as an independent recording ensemble, The Cathedral Singers produced over twenty-five compact disc recordings under the direction Richard Proulx. Selections from the Cathedral Singers' recording, “Sublime Chant,” were featured in an episode of the NBC television drama “ER,” and the entire Chant recording is included in a New Earth Video, “Mount Shasta: Meeting of Heaven and Earth.” The Cathedral Singers appeared with the Metropolis Symphony Orchestra, and presented concerts in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Saint Louis, Milwaukee, Cincinnati, Saint Paul, Indianapolis, and Chicago.
In the field of commercial music, he composed the 1971 theme song for Union Pacific Railroad, as well as an orchestral score for a documentary film, “The Golden Door.” Proulx’s organ setting of Veni Creator is heard in the 1997 movie, “The Devil's Own.” A rare combination of talents as composer, conductor, music editor, and organist, together with wide experience across denominational lines, gave Richard Proulx a unique perspective of both the opportunities and the challenges found in liturgical music-making in our time; he remained committed to the enriching and balancing role of the arts in people of all age.
Richard Proulx was the son of the late Raymond Proulx. He is survived by his mother, Helen Proulx, sisters Jeanette Payette and Barbara Callahan, and brothers, Gerald and James Proulx. Richard was preceded in death by his youngest brother, Jeffrey.
A Service to Celebrate the Life of Richard Proulx will be held on Saturday, 10 April 2010 at 10:30a at the Church of Saint Paul and the Redeemer, 4945 S Dorchester Ave., Chicago, IL. Private interment will be held at Saint Thomas Church in Medina, WA.
Memorials may be sent to one of the following charities: