Sacred Bluegrass

Is this a mashup made in heaven? I think it was.

Choir concert
Daddy and Iris at the concert

Sarah and Iris and I all went to this concert a few weeks ago titled, “The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass” with text by Marisha Chamberlain and music by Carol Barnett.  The Colorado Springs Chorale’s Chamber Singers performed the piece {1}.

The idea is so pure and revelatory: a unique combination of bluegrass rhythms with sacred choral arrangement is just surprising and wonderful.  Here are some thoughts I had on some of the movements.

VI: Credo

This is a simple tune, haunting and mournful.

Row on, we’re crossing River Jordan.  And no one goes alone. I do believe a resting place awaits us… we’ll toss our coats, throw off our hats and take the seat of ease.  It’s not the seat of riches and it’s not the seat of power.

VII: Sanctus

It’s got a nice bluegrass banjo off-beat. The choral arrangement is built on a swaying syncopation.

VIII: Ballad

It’s full of wonderful minors.

IX: Agnus Dei

This is almost a chant. The pitch control of the singers was magnificent.  The resolve at the end of the piece, “dona nobis pacem,” was simply miraculous.

XII: Conclusion

This was solely female voiced.  Curiously — perhaps boldly — the writer chose to use the female gender as well in the text.  For instance:

They say God loved the world so dear
She set aside Her crown
And cloaked Herself in human shape;
They say that She came down,
And dwelt awhile among us here.
She came on down.

It was a fantastic concert.  You owe it to yourself to watch this excellent recording on YouTube (not the C/S Chamber Singers):

Footnotes:

  1. Photo above belongs to the Colorado Springs Chorale’s Chamber Singers []

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