Peter M. Kolar
Peter M. Kolar
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A native of Detroit, Michigan, Peter's father is Polish-American and his mother is from El Salvador, Central America. Music and culture were an important part of his upbringing. Peter began formal piano instruction at age 7 and was playing regularly for Catholic Masses by age 10. After graduating from St. Lawrence Seminary High School in Mount Calvary, Wisconsin, Peter went on to study music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in composition. He resides now in El Paso, Texas, where he continues his full-time work for WLP while remaining active in the diocese as a liturgical consultant and coordinator for its music ministry formation program. Peter sits on the board of directors for the Southwest Liturgical Conference, and is the director of the El Paso Diocesan Choir.
In 2012, after years of concentration in other aspects of ministry and publishing, Peter revisited his passion for piano and released a much-anticipated classical CD, "Variations", a solo album showcasing his talents as a gifted performer and composer. The CD’s playlist features Peter’s masterful arrangements of sacred hymns, as well as his own works. Due to its inspired originality and classical appeal, “Variations” has earned widespread praise and positive reviews.
In addition to his solo CD, various other songs and arrangements by Peter are available through WLP, notably the acclaimed bilingual Mass setting "Misa Luna" (chosen by several dioceses and archdioceses as an official setting), the bilingual intercessions “Oración de los Fieles”, and the best-selling "El Señor Es Compasivo", a serene, bilingual setting of Psalm 103.
In 2004, Peter was commissioned to write the theme song for the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, one of the largest annual gatherings of Catholics in the world. The result of that effort was the hit anthem, "Healing Balm", which uses contemporary beats, pop styles, and rap in a compelling song for mission and sending. You can hear "Healing Balm" sung by artists Danielle Rose and Tony Alonso with “PK” himself performing the spoken rap on the CD "God Is My Rock".
Before moving to El Paso, Peter served for 14 years as the Music Director at Holy Cross/Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Chicago, Illinois, where he led its renowned Marimba Ensemble. Performances by the Holy Cross Marimba Ensemble under his direction include appearances at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, NPM conventions, and Chicago’s Symphony Center. Though no longer actively involved in the group, Peter continues to do guest appearances with the Marimba Ensemble, collaborating as recently as 2012 for a performance in Los Angeles. Under his tenure, the Marimba Ensemble released two recordings, "Marimbas Fantásticas, Volume I" and "Marimbas Fantásticas, Volume II", both available from WLP.
A respected composer and arranger, Peter has contributed much to today’s liturgical repertoire and ministerial landscape. One of his significant contributions has been his notated piano accompaniments to Spanish-language pieces. In addition, Peter has gained a reputation as a skillful instructor on authentically emulating Hispanic styles and rhythms on the keyboard. Peter remains a dedicated and sought-after bilingual clinician in the areas of liturgy, music, and ministry. He appears frequently at various events, conferences, and showcases nationwide.