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 +62 274 566 695
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. 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 people, and
    to create new hymns from 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 the mid of 2009 the team of the Center has guided 52 seminars.
  • By experiments on about the indigenous music, by using the original music instruments as well as special vocal arrangements. The student choir Vocalista Sonora in Yogyakarta, conducted by Mr. Paul Widyawan, offers good opportunities for such experiments.
  • By publishing the results of the seminars and studies in form of books and musiccassettes. Within 38 years the Center has published more than 250 books and booklets containing sacred music for the congregation, choirs, priests and organists. But there are also books and cassettes containing traditional music (e. g. folksong and instrumental music) as well as educational material (on about music theory, harmony and composition; organ-playing, choir-conducting etc.).- The most popular book produced by this Center is MADAH BAKTI, the first Catholic hymnbook for whole Indonesia (published in 1980), containing about 450 hymns: 33 % are based on indigenous melodies and rhythms; 33 % are new hymns composed by Indonesian composers but in Western style; 33 % are 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 3 million copies of MADAH BAKTI have been circulated in whole Indonesia (partly also in Malaysia).- The Center has also produced Compact Discs, and cassettes containing the results of the inculturation process: indigenous music which was recorded on the spot in outer islands; folksongs arranged for and sung by choirs; new Indonesian liturgical songs, instrumental music (e. g. Javanese gamelan music). 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.
  • By organizing a permanent three years Course of Church Music (KMG) in Yogyakarta with about 80 students trained by 20 teachers. The Course takes place on every Monday and Wednesday afternoons. The need of choir leaders and organists in Indonesia nowadays is very high, because each parish has a couple of choirs who assist in the Sunday parish services. Since 1997, the Course of hurch Music has been expanded by two new departments; the so called ORVO department: a training program on vocal and organ for children from 6 to 12 years; followed up by the CB department for teenagers from from 13 to 15 years who learn not only to play the organ but also some traditional music instrument (ex. Gamelan-the traditional Javanese gong orchestra). 
  • By providing a music library with Indonesian and Western music, both profane and sacred. The library contains both scores and recordings.
  • By editing and publishing the monthly 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.
  • By special activities, like lectures in the Catechetical Institute on about liturgy and liturgical music and in FTW (Institute of Philosophy and Theology) on about sacred music; short courses on about liturgy or liturgical music in parishes; appreciation of liturgical music in parishes together with the Vocalista Sonora choir; seminars to compose new sacred songs (mentioned above) as well as to create a "danced liturgy". These seminars have been accomplished in Sumatra, Nias, Borneo, Java, Celebes, Flores, Timor, Sumba, in the Mollucas and Papua, in cooperation with various dioceses together with musicians at the local places where the traditional music is still alive. By this way church music is built up "from the grass roots".



In 1964 the Vocalista Sonora Choir was founded by Paul Widyawan who is its director until now. The members are mostly students who join this choir for some years. The choir has its homesite in the Catechetical Center and works together with the Center for Liturgical Music (Pusat Musik Liturgi).

Concerts have been performed in big cities as well as in small villages all over the island of 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. 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. Even classical operas like "Aida" (Guiseppe Verdi) or musicals like "Amahl and the Night Visitors" (Gian Carlo Menotti) have been performed in accordance with the aim of its founder Paul Widyawan, "to open the windows for the young generation who like art".

In 2004 Vocalista Sonora celebrated its 40 years yubilee.

Actualised in August 2009

Jl. Ahmad Jazuli no.2 Yogyakarta 55224
Telp.0274-566695, Fax.0274-541641, Email.