Missa gentis humanae (2010) for eight-voice a capella choir (CCAATTBB)


Program Notes   

     Missa gentis humanae interweaves the words of the Mass Ordinary (with an added Introit and Ite, missa est) with texts representing main branches (Slavic, Germanic, Koine Greek, Latin) of Indo-European language families. Phrases and extended passages drawn from Borges, Virgil, Brecht, Dostoevsky, Freud, Herbert, Scott and the Gospel according to St. John establish broad aesthetic, devotional, linguistic and literary perspectives and continua that engage with the Mass texts and each other. The Mass thus becomes a multi-lingual vessel of cross-referential commentary, interpretation, reflection and even textual substitution for portions of the Ordinary.
     The large-scale, organic structural unfolding is articulated by two distinct, interrelated processes: 1) a gradual textural saturation inversely interacts with 2) a harmonic rotational scheme that clarifies and merges the pitch collections associated with the Ordinary Latin texts with all others. Within these processes, the syllabic structures of the texts themselves contribute to their 3-stage “evolution”: each non-Mass Ordinary text “evolves” from 1) non-vowels (sung Bocca chuisa and Bocca quasi chuisa) to vowels to 2) syllables to 3) words and phrases and is delineated by pointillistic, homophonic and polyphonic textures respectively.