Liturgical Music and Peter LaManna

Dr. Peter LaManna was born in Reading, PA on August 15, 1930. He became one of the youngest church organists in Reading when he accepted the position of organist at Saint Anthony’s Lithuanian Catholic Church at age 16. Years later, in 1964, he became director of the Reading Choral Society, a position that he held until 1976.

Dr. LaManna was called to become Director of Liturgical Music for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1968. Subsequently, he was named choirmaster for the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. It was here that LaManna founded The Archdiocesan Boy Choir. Founded in 1968 at the request of John Cardinal Krol, the Archdiocesan Boy Choir has performed in parishes around the Archdiocese, the United States, and the world. The other major choir that LaManna lead was the Collegiate Choir of the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul. The collection has records detailing the planning of international trips the choirs took, including to Rome for the Canonization of John Neumann and to Poland for a series of concerts.

As Director of Liturgical Music for the Archdiocese, two of his biggest accomplishments were being named Director of Music for the 41st International Eucharistic Congress and, during the visit of Pope John Paul II in October 1979, serving as Director of Music and choirmaster for the occasion.  He was also named Chair of the Fine Arts Department at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in 1970. During his tenure, LaManna faced the challenges of the changing of the church music following the Novus Ordo. As part of the Archdiocesan Commission on Liturgical Music, LaManna sought to make sure the music reflect the sacredness of the Mass. In teaching at the Seminary, he instructed his students in both official teachings on liturgical music as well as pastoral implications. One thing that LaManna stressed in his classes was that secular music was not permitted at any liturgical service in the Archdiocese.

Dr. LaManna continued to serve the Archdiocese until he passed away on January 16, 1990.

The collection covers the career of Dr. Peter LaManna from his time at the Reading Choral Society in the mid-1960s to his leadership of the Archdiocese’s Liturgical Music office and beyond. It is subdivided into many different categories, from correspondence to booklets from the Masses his choirs sang at.


Featured is the Collegiate Choir singing Gift of Finest Wheat at the 41st International Eucharistic Congress


Collection processed and blog post by Richard Girkin


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