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A Reflection on Bernstein’s MASS

On February 22nd we had the privilege of joining The St. Mark’s Choir, Daniel Mutlu, and Dr. Doreen Rao to present Bernstein’s Mass to a full and eager audience. The concert began with a short set songs featuring CCSA, all of which put the audience in a really good mood – as was proven by the clapping along during Give Us Hope by Jim Papoulis. After all, how could one not be in a good mood when listening to a vocal arrangement of Astor Piazzolla’s Libertango?

Getting the audience involved!

Getting the audience involved!

Once that portion of the fun was done, it was time to tackle the 15 movement Bernstein MASS. For the remainder of the concert we pulled out all the stops – The St. Mark’s Choir, CCSA, instrumentalists and an organist joined us on stage for this magical work. And magical it was: there were many moments of intensity (such as that incredible opening Soprano solo, sung beautifully by Ana Hernandez),

Ana Hernandez' solo at the beginning of MASS was gripping - and exhilarating!

Ana Hernandez’ solo at the beginning of MASS was gripping – and exhilarating!

levity (lyrical jokes reminiscent of Candide executed perfectly by our tenor soloist Daniel Mutlu), and the theatrical nature of the work kept the audience glued to the performance.

One could feel the collective appreciation of being able to experience such a talented group of performers who cared so much about their performance.

The beauty of St. Mark’s historic sanctuary served to enhance the quality of the whole event.

Once the piece finished, there were a few seconds of reverent silence. But as soon as the clapping started, audience members instantly rose to their feet and cheered. Afterwards one could hear murmurs of wonder and appreciation from the crowed and choristers alike – everyone knew that they were fortunate to catch a performance like this.

The closing moments of MASS were beautiful.

The closing moments of MASS were beautiful.

Here are a few remarks from those involved:

“Wanted to tell you how much the concert meant to me. Everyone who was alive at the time has their memory of President Kennedy’s death. I was in grad school in Dallas at the time. The sounds, going down town…all left strong impressions. I hadn’t even thought of that until almost at the end of the program and suddenly the images and memories came back. It was quite an experience. After that I lost all sense of the concert as an “artistic event” and was caught up in my own thoughts and feelings. But then, isn’t that what we try to do with art?” – Ric Slocum (audience member)

“It was a wonderful experience to collaborate with CCSA and Doreen Rao.  Dr. Rao’s passion for music was contagious and brought new life to the meaning of singing together as a community.” Joseph Causby (Music Director of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church)

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience - can't wait to see you at the next event!

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience – can’t wait to see you at the next event!

Luckily for everyone, this won’t be the only awe inspiring experience from CCSA! We still have some spectacular events left in our season – like our Nick Page concert, Carmina Burana with YOSA and so many other choruses, and our final concert on May 3rd!

Make sure to come and join us – you won’t want to miss any of the work we’re doing!

All Photography by Patrice Oliver.

-Darian Thomas