Michael J. Drake, Jr.

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Born: 1 August 1983


Michael Jerome Drake, Jr. is an amateur composer of sacred polyphony. A member of the Mater Dei Latin Mass Community (now a parish) from its inception, he grew up around the Tridentine Mass from the age of seven, received his First Holy Communion from Fr. Michael Irwin, FSSP, and became an altar boy, serving the Latin Mass regularly at the chapel of the Discalced Carmelite Sisters at the Monastery of the Infant Jesus of Prague and St. Joseph in Dallas, Texas. From his early teenage years, he was involved with the Voces Pro Domino choir which, under the direction of Rita Pilgrim, provided the music during sung Masses for Mater Dei.

Drake's father introduced him to the BASIC programming language at about the age of 8, about the same time when Drake began taking piano lessons from Roberta (Bobbie) Hansen. Drake's interest in computers and music eventually led to his parents gifting him an educational edition of Finale 97. The software, coupled with a handwritten list of voice leading guidelines he obtained from Dr. Theodore Hansen, his piano teacher's husband and a professor of music at Texas A&M University-Commerce, launched Drake into experiments in music composition. Although he began by writing little short pieces for piano, it was Drake's exposure to the ancient music treasury of the Catholic Church which influenced him the most and set him on the path of composing settings for the sacred liturgy. In 1999, at age sixteen, Drake composed his setting of the Stabat Mater, which has been sung at Mater Dei with some regularity.

Drake obtained a Bachelor of Science degree from Texas A&M University-Commerce in Computer Science, Summa cum Laude, and started work professionally as a software engineer. In 2007, he composed the Missa Mater Dolorosa, which he, rather presumptuously, sent to Pope Benedict XVI as a token of gratitude for the Motu Proprio Summorum Pontificum. In September 2008, he left professional life briefly to discern a vocation with the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter in Denton, Nebraska but returned to Texas in February 2009. While looking for work, Drake wrote the Liber Pro app, using the public domain PDF of the 1961 Liber Usualis provided by CMAA. He married Melissa Hinze on May 1, 2010, having composed the Missa Spiritus Sancti for the occasion. This Mass setting was later sung at the dedication Mass of the current Mater Dei church building.

After returning from seminary, Drake again sang with Voces Pro Domino until Rita Pilgrim retired. Thereafter, he sang with several of the Mater Dei choirs under the direction of Kimberly Walters. For about five years, he directed the men's Gregorian chant schola, until the group was turned over to Michael C. Fowler, who later succeeded Kimberly Walters as music director. In December 2019, Drake became composer in residence at Mater Dei, though in an amateur capacity, to provide new compositions tailored for Mater Dei's choral ensembles.

(Source: Autobiographical)

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