As Program Director of the Center for Liturgy, Carolyn Pirtle oversees the planning and facilitation of the Center’s signature events, particularly the annual symposium, Liturgy Week, as well as the McGrath Institute’s annual International Crèche Exhibit and Pilgrimage, and the Marian Procession and May Crowning. Additionally, she assists with liturgical planning for the entire McGrath Institute, collaborates in the liturgical and musical formation of MICL program participants, and is a contributing member of the editorial board for Church Life Journal, where she writes on liturgical music, aesthetics, devotional practice, and popular culture.
Born and raised in Wichita, Kansas, she began studying piano at age three. By age twelve, she was accompanying and cantoring for Mass and has been an active parish musician ever since. She holds degrees in piano performance (B.M., Kansas State University, 2003), music theory-composition (M.M., Kansas State University, 2005), vocal/choral sacred music (M.S.M., Notre Dame, 2008), and theology (M.A., Notre Dame, 2016). She speaks regularly on the theology and practice of liturgical music, the role of the arts in Catholic life, formation in liturgical and devotional prayer, and Christian creativity.
An award-winning composer, Pirtle has set the antiphons and psalms for the entire Liturgy of the Hours, and several of her liturgical compositions are available through World Library Publications and earthsongs. She is also the composer and playwright of the nine one-act musicals performed in yearly cycles at Notre Dame Vision. She has published articles in Logos: A Journal for Catholic Thought and Culture, AIM: Liturgy Resources Magazine, and GIA Quarterly, is author of the forthcoming book Praying the Rosary Together: A Guide for Households and Classrooms (World Library Publications, 2019), and is currently working on two commissioned choral works for Saint Mary’s College and the South Bend Chamber Singers, as well as settings of the Entrance Antiphons.
When she’s not playing piano, singing, or composing, she enjoys attending live performances of musicals, watching old movies, teaching piano lessons to young people, reading novels, and baking breads and other treats for her co-workers.