Non Sequitur Music

Missa Jubilaea

Composer: James Aikman
Instrumentation: Chorus and Organ
Year Composed: 2000
Duration: 17 minutes
Cost: Purchase: $30.00
Catalog number: NSM1

Text is in Latin and corresponds with the five parts of the Ordinary of the Mass:
I. Kyrie
II. Gloria
III. Credo
IV. Sanctus/Benedictus
V. Agnus Dei

Commissioned by Cathedral Arts and Christ Church Cathedral

Recording Premiere:
Schola Cantorum from the University of Michigan
Rebekah Nye and Kira Slovacek, Sopranos
Megan Besley and Christine Field, Altos
Thomas Glenn and Michael Gallant, Tenors
Tyler Oliphant and Allen Schrott, Basses
Charles Kennedy, Organist, St. Thomas the Apostle Church, Ann Arbor

Premiere Performance:
Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys 20th-Century Festival, Dr. Frederick Burgomaster, Mus. Dir., Christ Church Cathedral, Indianapolis - April 2000

Broadcast premiere:
1050AM Ann Arbor, May 2000

Program Notes:

Upon hearing a musical setting of the Mass during a music history course (nearly 25 years ago!) at Butler University, I was immediately attracted to the beauty of the great liturgical works of Machaut, Josquin, Morales, Palestrina, Lassus, Victoria, Montiverdi, J. S. Bach, Handel, Mozart, etc. And as a member of the Butler Chorus, I also had the privilege of singing Honneger's King David and Bach's Magnificat with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra under Maestro John Nelson's direction. He is perhaps the greatest living choral and orchestral conductor. Afterward, I was in a choir at the School of Music at Indiana University in which I met my beautiful wife. Neither of us being tenors, we were both placed in the tenor section by God's grace. Our experience in Amsterdam led me to appreciate liturgical music even more deeply. Hearing choral music concerts in the Oude Kerk (a church dating to the 12th century) for instance, is well enough to inspire any composer who also is very concerned with the spiritual essence of life.

A composer wishing to set the Mass to music faces two types of wording - one is concise and poetic while the other is expansive, having a more oratorical style. As everyone will hear, the Kyrie, Gloria, Sanctus - Benedictus, and Agnus Dei all revolve around simple, repetitive melodies while the Credo is more involved, though still direct. The Kyrie moves from a repentative, chant-like opening through a polyphonic Christe to a quite hopeful, fully-scored Kyrie restatement. The Gloria presents an up-tempo interplay between the organ flourishes and the "choir of angels" who sing praises. The Credo calls upon various musical styles to match the irregular patterns of the text, culminating at a central point in the Mass: "Et resurrexit tertia die, secudum Scripturas." Here, an ascending canon begins a cappella in the bass and moves up through the choral registers. The Sanctus - Benedictus is a simple song which alternates between Latin and English, translating and echoing through the ages. An organ fanfare introduces the short, homophonic, a cappella Agnus Dei whose phrases conclude the Mass.

The music of Missa Jubilaea has been sketched recently, whenever time and energy allowed, with the bulk of the details being completed during the summer and fall of 1999 in Ann Arbor. This was not initially a commissioned work. Driven by a profound gratitude, the music was written as a modest token of thanksgiving to God for the incredibly vast gift... this stupendous miracle of life we all share.

- James Aikman, Ann Arbor, 2000

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