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A School for Visual and Performing Arts

Where artistic expression and creativity meet academic excellence in a world-class research university located in Washington, D.C., one of the country's greatest cities for the arts.

Welcome to Catholic University's Newest School

The Board of Trustees of The Catholic University of America voted on June 5, 2018, to unite the Departments of Drama and Art, previously in the School of Arts and Sciences, with the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music to create the new Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art. This new school includes the Department of Music Performance; the Department of Music Theory, History, and Composition; the Department of Drama; and the Department of Art.

Bringing the Arts Together

The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art unites programs that are by nature creative and collaborative to inaugurate an exciting new dynamic focus on the visual and performing arts at Catholic University.

In Memoriam

Leo NestorLeo Nestor, D.M.A., K.S.G.

Funeral Mass of Christian Burial for Dr. Leo Nestor
Date/Time: Monday, Oct. 28, 10:00 a.m. (prelude begins at 9:30 a.m.)
Location: Crypt Church, Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
**A reception hosted by the Rome School will immediately follow in Heritage Hall.

It is with a heavy heart that the Rome School of Music, Drama, and Art announces the news that Professor Emeritus Leo Cornelius Nestor, conductor, composer, and teacher, died in the early morning hours on Sunday, September 22.  Dr. Nestor was Professor Emeritus of Choral and Sacred Music at Catholic University. He officially came to Catholic University in 2001 and retired in 2016 after having been the Justine Bayard Ward Professor of Music, Director of Choral Studies, Director of the Institute of Sacred Music, member of the conducting faculty, and co-operating member of the composition faculty.  His relationship with the University started in 1984 when Dr. Nestor began serving as the Music Director at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Upon being hired at the Basilica, he was commissioned by the Benjamin T. Rome School of Music to compose the cantata for chorus, soloists, and orchestra, In the Fullness of Time, which was premiered by the Choir of the Basilica and choirs and orchestra from the School of Music during the Christmas season of 1984. That same year Dr. Nestor initiated the tradition of commissioning a carol from a CUA graduate student or faculty composer to be premiered at the Annual Christmas Concert for Charity. After accompanying the CUA Choir and Orchestra on a pilgrimage to Rome as guest conductor and conducting the student musicians in the Verdi Te Deum at the Kennedy Center, both in 1987, the combined Christmas tradition between the Basilica and the University began in 1988. He recounted his affection for this collaboration throughout the time he served as Music Director at the Basilica and Professor at the University in this interview from 2015.

In addition to his work at the Basilica and CUA he composed music for four papal visits to the U.S., and he was on the drafting committee for the U.S. bishops’ 2007 document Sing to the Lord: Music in Divine Worship. Dr. Nestor was a founding member of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians, and he served the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as musical advisor to the Secretariat for Divine Worship.  In recognition of his lifetime of musical service to the Catholic Church, he was named a papal knight by Pope Francis.  The honor was bestowed upon him in 2016 when he was inducted as a Knight of the Pontifical Equestrian Order of St. Gregory the Great.  Dr. Nestor’s complete bio is available here: Leo Nestor

Leo’s works are performed frequently throughout the United States and Europe.  Highlights include the fortieth anniversary Kennedy Center celebration of The Washington Chorus; Strengthen for Service (2007) for the installation of Rev. William Byrne, St. Peter’s Church on Capitol Hill, Leo’s own parish; and This Is The Hour of Banquet and of Song (chorus and orchestra, 2010), premiered at the Mass of installation of CUA president John Garvey, among many other commissions for notable occasions across the nation.

Leo always worked his students to their fullest potential, and was loved by them all. In recent days, social media has been abound with stories and quotes of Leo’s by former students memorializing the truly wonderful impact he had on generations of choral singers. He will be truly missed by all who were lucky enough to learn from and work with him.  

Please pray for the repose of Leo’s soul and for his family and loved ones.  Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord.

Student Experience

There are several opportunities both on campus and off in Washington, D.C., for students to immerse themselves in music, drama, art, and any other activities that interest them.