wm300004 Newsom A Missa Brevis for chorus and orchestra
for chorus and orchestra
durata c 35 mins
Composer's Notes for MISSA BREVIS
Many people think that a monk would write religious music because monks are religious people. I must admit that is not the reason I wrote this mass. I wanted to write a symphony, and I needed a structure upon which to build the symphony. I chose to use words as a structure, and I picked the Latin mass so that I would not have to ask for any author's or translator's permission.
I like many forms and styles of music, and my favorite way of listening to music is lying on the!floor with earphones on and lights out. When I do this, it is usually while listening to dark,!repetitive music, and so it turns out the music that I write tends to be dark and repetitive. In fact, I write music with the intention of it being listened to by solitary listeners with earphones on and!lights out, rather than as being performed live in a hall with an audience (I think it would bore the!audience to death, in fact). Another aspect of my compositions is the tendency to end quietly,!almost fading away. I am not sure why I do that - maybe it has something to do with the expanding!universe ending in cold inertness (or is it too haughty of me to think I am that attuned to the!universe?).
This mass starts off with a dark, repetitive, and yearning KYRIE. Not much hope is found in the!music, but that is ok, hope might or might not come later. A listener might notice that the opening!brass countermelody is used as one of the main themes in the AGNUS DEI. That is an intentional!repetition - I like stories and music that wind around themselves and start back at the beginning.
The GLORIA is the kinetic, goofy opposite twin to the KYRIE. Not much more can be said about!it.
The SANCTUS begins with bell strokes and flames coming out of angels singing of the mystery of God in eternity. It then moves into repetitive shouts of Hosanna, and then into the BENEDICTUS.
The BENEDICTUS is surprisingly lush and romantic - I did not know I had that in me. The SANCTUS bell and flaming angel theme reappears to bring it back to the beginning as well as the ending, which of course fades out in a lone bassoon line.
The AGNUS DEI brings us back to the beginning with the KYRIE opening brass theme now in the strings and later in the chorus. I also bring back a harmonic device from the GLORIA found in the chorus and brass. This movement is the most repetitive in the symphony, and as I was writing it, I had the impression of a huge wheel spinning and finally running out of steam at the end.
Overall, I am quite pleased with the way the whole thing turned out. I am also immensely appreciative of John Webber for typesetting it and making it available for others online.!
Br. Abraham Newsom
St. Gregory's Abbey
Three Rivers, Michigan