Illuminati Vocal Arts Presents Martin's Mass & Bach's Singet dem Herrn



Grace Episcopal Church (14 Boltwood Ave, Amherst, MA 01002, Amherst MA)

Join Illuminati Vocal Arts Ensemble, E. Wayne Abercrombie, guest conductor, for a performance of Frank Martin's Mass, J.S. Bach's ‘Singet dem Herrn,’ BWV 225, and works by Alice Parker.

Sliding-scale tickets are also available for purchase at the door, so that no one will be turned away for want of funds. Ticket purchases help fund our concerts: please pay what you can!

Arianne Abela is on maternity leave, and will rejoin us in the new year. In the meantime, we are honored to be conducted by E. Wayne Abercrombie, Professor of Music Emeritus and former Director of Choral Activities at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Wayne writes:

"Of the seven known motets of Bach (each of which is masterful), 'Singet dem Herrn' is the most consistently positive. The date of composition is not known, and neither is its intended performance purpose, though scholars speculate that motets were usually sung at funerals. What is certain: it is masterful, and the final movement is a fugue that could serve as an example of best practice in any book or essay on fugues."

"Alice Parker, now 97 and living close by in Charlemont, began her compositional career writing arrangements — at first with Robert Shaw, and then on her own — for the early incarnation of the Robert Shaw Chorale, then chosen from the finest singer-musicians in New York City. Her husband was a contractor for and leader in the Chorale until his untimely death in 1976. She is a composer (operas, song-cycles, several works for chorus and orchestra) and conductor (for many years she led and recorded with a professional choir of singers in New York. She is also a Smith College graduate, who majored in organ and composition before going to Julliard."

"Her arrangements are masterful, like brief variations on a tune; and her understanding of choral sound and the possibilities of voices in ensemble are, in my opinion, unsurpassed. The ones we are singing are a representative sample of her gift."

"Finally, the Frank Martin Mass is, in my opinion, one of the choral masterpieces of the 20th (or any) century. It holds a special place in Martin’s works, who wrote it as a private offering to God. It was only many years after it was completed that a choral director friend of his persuaded him to publish it and allow it to be performed."

"Andrew Lindemann Malone has written, 'Given that Frank Martin's most important formative musical experience was hearing the St. Matthew Passion of Johann Sebastian Bach at the age of ten, it makes sense that he would eventually try his hand at writing for the double choir Bach used in that work. Yet Martin's Mass for double choir looks even further back for musical inspiration, to Renaissance polyphony and to plainsong church modes.'"

"The result is a composition unique in all of choral literature. Eminently singable (though challenging), it explores melody, harmony and texture in very personal but intelligible ways. He endows the venerable words with fresh and profound meaning."

"Please join us for this wonderful program."

—E. Wayne Abercrombie