2016-12-04 Notes from the Bench

“Who Comes?” by Leo Nestor

A commentary on this week’s music by Dr. James T. Gerber, Music Associate


The Advent carol, “Who Comes?” by Leo Nestor is the first of a set of three carols for the Advent and Christmas season. The text is by the internationally published British poet and hymn-writer, Brian Wren. Wren’s texts are not only beautifully written, but have raised an awareness of the necessity for theological integrity of contemporary Christian hymnody. His hymns have been published in numerous hymnals including four hymns in The Hymnal 1982.



Dr. Leo Nestor is an American composer, teacher, and choral conductor who has made significant contributions to sacred music, particularly within the Roman Catholic tradition. Nestor studied at California State University and the University of Southern California, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in composition, and Master and Doctor of Music degrees in Choral Music. Nestor is Professor Emeritus of Choral and Sacred Music the Catholic University of America; he was the Justine Bayard Professor of Music at this institution from 2001-2016 where he was the Director of Choral Studies and the Institute of Sacred Music and taught composition and conducting. Prior to his work at Catholic University, from 1984-2001, he was the Music Director for the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC. Nestor was a founding member of the Conference of Roman Catholic Cathedral Musicians, has served as a musical advisor to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and has taught as a guest professor choral conducting at Mt. St. Mary’s College in Los Angeles and at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. (I had the opportunity to study with Dr. Nestor while I was completing my graduate studies at St. John’s.) Nestor is the founder, conductor, and artistic director of the American Repertory Singers, and professional vocal ensemble specializing in the performance and recording of contemporary choral literature. Nestor is a prolific composer who has received a number of commissions, notably four commissions to compose works for the apostolic visits of Roman Pontiffs to the United States.

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