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Missa Brevis Akarana

for SATB choir, orchestra and organ

Year:  2017   ·  Duration:  21m
Instrumentation:  SATB choir, orchestra and optional organ, or, SATB choir and organ

Year:  2017
Duration:  21m
Instrumentation  SATB choir, orchestra and o...

Composer:   Chris Artley

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Missa Brevis reflects Chris Artley's interest in both traditional classical repertoire and jazz music. The opening Kyrie, for example, features a melody that would not be out of place in a Palestrina motet. It includes an even balance of polyphonic and homophonic writing in five to seven parts, follows strict rules governing voice leading, but inhabits a harmonic sound world infused with jazz chords.

After the slow moving, minor key Kyrie, comes a change in energy, with a lively, dance-like, major key setting of the Gloria. There are a number of unexpected twists and turns to keep the performers on their toes in this movement. These include the main theme oscillating between the keys of G and E major, athletic vocal lines with wide leaps and occasional changes of meter. Once again the two sound worlds of classical and jazz embrace one another, with the Baroque like opening melody, harmonized with Bill Evans type chord progressions.

The Sanctus has a slow, bluesy, Gershwin-like introduction, which launches into a lively and rhythmical Latin feel, alternating bars of 6/8 and 7/8 time. The Hosanna has a triumphant almost regal melody, in the more settled time of 6/8, leading to a return of the opening blues theme and a very grand jazzy ending to the movement.

The Benedictus has a sedate and reflective opening, provided by solo harp accompanying sopranos and then tenors, before the chorus and orchestra join in. The solo violin has another feature in this number, with a lyrical and ornamented melody, leading into an impressionist style setting of the text, ‘Qui venit in nomine Domini’. The main theme then returns for a rousing and rather grand setting of, ‘Hosanna in excelsis’.

The Agnus Dei continues the classical/jazz theme with its haunting melodies accompanied primarily by strings, playing a mix of jazzy chords, infused with poignant suspensions and resolutions. There is a passing nod to Faure and his Requiem, especially in the closing bars with the theme used to accompany ‘Dona Nobis Pacem’.

Click the links to purchase the full score, choral score and instrumental parts from Helbling Publishing.

Commissioned note

commissioned by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra and their director, Peter Thomas

Dedication note

for the Graduate Choir New Zealand, Holy Trinity Cathedral Choir & Organist and Auckland Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Peter Thomas

Contents note

Five movements:

I. Kyrie
II. Gloria
III. Sanctus
IV. Benedictus
V. Agnus Dei

Text note

Traditional mass