Center For Liturgical Music
(Pusat Musik Liturgi)

FOUNDED by the Society of Jesus on July 11th 1971, formerly as an independent institute with office rooms in the Catechetical Center (Puskat); since 1986 integrated as a special department in the Catechetical Center in Yogyakarta. In cooperation with Vocalista Sonora Choir.


Jl. Ahmad Jazuli 2
Yogyakarta 55224
Phone (0274) 566 695
Fax: +62 274 541 641

THE AIM IS to propagate, renew and compose liturgical songs, especially according to the scales and rhythms of the local music traditions, to help people to express their faith and to find their identity as Indonesian Christians. This aim is attained:

  • By collecting and studying scores, traditional instruments and recordings of indigenous music; by field research specially by accomplishing seminars for local musicians all over the Indonesian archipelago. The aim of these seminars is to study the rhythms and melodies of local traditional music together with local musicians, in order to help them in creating new hymns out of these materials, the so called inculturation program. This looks to be the best way to build up Indonesian Church music “from the grass roots”. Until 2021 the team of the Center has guided 57 seminars.
  • By experiments on about the indigenous music, by using the original music instruments as well as special vocal arrangements. The Center has a lot of traditional music instruments from all over Indonesia. Some of these instruments are used every morning during the morning prayer as well to accompany the regular concerts of the Vocalista Sonora choir.
  • By publishing the results of the seminars and studies in form of books and DVDs / CDs. Within 50 years the Center has published more than 300 books and booklets containing sacred music for the congregation, choirs, liturgical leaders and organists. The CDs contain profane traditional (vocal and instrumental) music. Moreover there are also textbooks e.g. about history of music, music theory, harmony, musical form and analysis, melody; manuals on playing the organ, on conducting choirs etc. The most popular book produced by this Center is MADAH BAKTI, the first Catholic hymnbook for whole Indonesia (published in 1980). The first edition contained 450 hymns: one third based on indigenous melodies and rhythms; one third consisting in new hymns composed by Indonesian composers but in Western style; one third with translations of Western hymns. A renewed edition of Madah Bakti was published in 2000 with an addition of about 300 new songs that were composed during the seminars in 1980-2000. Meanwhile about 4 million copies of Madah Bakti have been circulated in whole Indonesia (partly also in Malaysia).-
  • Since 2004 the Center has started to publish also video recordings containing some documentation about the inculturation process as it goes on during the seminars mentioned above, departing from indigenous music and resulting new liturgical hymns and songs directly performed by the participants of these seminars. A big number of these recordings you can find in YouTube.
  • By organizing a three years Course of Church Music (KMG) in Yogyakarta with about 50 students trained twice a week by 20 teachers. The Course takes place on every Monday and Wednesday afternoons. Since 1989, this course was extended by a correspondence course (KOGJJ) to train organists outside of Yogyakarta and Java. Once a year the participants assemble in Yogyakarta for a special training.
  • The need of conductors and organists in Indonesia nowadays is very high, because each parish has a couple of basic districts, and each of them forms a choir to assist in the Sunday parish services. The team of the Center visits parishes in order to train the choirs and choir leaders, the organists and soloists / “psalmists”.
  • In 1997 the Course of Church Music (KMG) has been expanded by two new departments: the so called ORVO department: a training program on vocal and organ for kids from 6 to 12 years of age, followed up by the ConBrio department for teenagers from 13-15 who learn not only to play the organ but also Gamelan (the traditional Javanese gong orchestra) as well as angklung (a bamboo orchestra).
  • By providing a music library containing scores and recordings of western as well as Indonesian music, both profane and sacred. This library contains also a collection of video recordings about traditional music recorded as “rough material” during the seminars mentioned above – a very valuable collection for further studies. with Indonesian and Western music, both profane and sacred. The library contains both scores and recordings.
  • By editing and publishing the magazine WARTA MUSIK (“Music News”), an informative and educational medium for the hands of (church) musicians all over Indonesia, mainly in order to share practical experiences and to discuss problems of nowadays Indonesian music. It comes out six times a year.
  • By special activities, like
    • Seminars in order to create a “danced liturgy”. These seminars have been realized in Sumatra, Nias, Borneo, Java and Flores, in cooperation with the local dioceses, together with dancers and musicians at places where the traditional dances are still intact.
    • By Symposiums together with experts from outside to discuss about special matters in order to be published in our magazine.
    • Upgrading courses special for the alumni of the correspondence course (KOGJJ).
    • Yearly Intensive Courses for choir leaders during summer vacation.

Vocalista Sonora Choir

In 1964 Paul Widyawan, a staff member of the Center for Liturgical Music, founded the Vocalista Sonora Choir. The members are mostly students who take part in this choir during a couple of years. The choir has its home quarters in the Catechetical Center and works together with the Center for Liturgical Music (Pusat Musik Liturgi).

According to Mr. Paul, the aim is to open the windows for young people, who are longing for good music as well as for attention, to provide them with artistic experiences.

Vocalista Sonora

They performed concerts in big cities as well as in small villages all over the island Java. Moreover, this choir also has made Indonesia known overseas: in 1976 Vocalista Sonora was invited to make a concert tour in Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Belgium. Because this seemed to be successful, the choir was invited do come to Europe again in 1981, 1984 and also in 1988, even to Rome and Castelgandolfo to sing in front of the Pope John Paul II. As if this was not yet enough, in 1992 Vocalista Sonora was invited by the German organization “Missio” to perform songs and dances from the Indonesia archipelago as well as examples of ‘inculturation’ in Germany as well as in the Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, and Austria.

The repertoire of Vocalista Sonora ranges from plain song up to contemporary music. A special role this choir played as interpreter of the new incultural songs published by the Center for Liturgical Music by concerts as well by recordings.

In August 2019 Paul Widyawan died. But the role of Vocalista Sonora Choir is going on especially the cooperation with the Center for Liturgical Music.