Ever since Jennifer Pascual ’92 was a young girl, faith and music have intertwined to create her North Star.
“I have worked for the Catholic church since I was in high school at Bishop Kenny. I knew that I wanted a life in music ministry,” said Pascual, who fell in love with music at an early age and was raised in the Catholic church.
After high school, Pascual earned her Bachelor of Music in Piano and Organ Performance and Music Education from Jacksonville University. She went on to earn a Master of Music in Piano Performance from the Mannes College of Music in New York City, and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Organ Performance from the world-renowned Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. In 2003, Pascual became the first woman appointed Director of Music at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York, one of the most prestigious sacred music appointments in the United States.
“Christmastime of 2002, the late Archbishop of New York, Cardinal Edward Egan was looking for a new Director of Music, attended a concert that I was conducting and playing organ at the Roman Catholic Seminary, and based on his attendance at that concert he believed I could do the job. So I accepted,” she said.
Pascual oversees music for 29 of the cathedral’s 46 masses each week, in addition to numerous weddings, funerals, graduations, and a concert series of choral, organ and instrumental music. She conducts the Cathedral Choir every Sunday and also serves as one of the organists. The work is demanding but rewarding. Pascual said being a woman working alongside an all-male clergy has its challenges, but she has the opportunity in her role to encourage and mentor church musicians from all over the world who reach out to her for advice.
“Being in my current role has enabled me to meet so many wonderful people from all over the world. NYC is a tourist city and many people come to visit. It's always great to see people I haven't seen in years and also great to be able to travel to give concerts all over the world,” she said.
Pascual credits JU with helping her establish a strong foundation of skill and knowledge.
“I had great music teachers at JU. Mary Lou Wesley Krosnick was a fabulous teacher, and I wouldn't have the finger technique I have today if it weren't for her. I learned to play the organ with William Saunders, and if I hadn't studied organ, I am not sure I'd be working in church music. Between my primary instrument teachers and solidly learning theory with Dr. William Schirmer and other important classes such as orchestration, conducting, instrumental methods, ear training, score reading, etc. and always being urged to perform, it all gave me a solid music foundation to continue on and to be a better musician. Also, the very small classes gave us the individual attention needed to really carry us to the next level."