About the Program
Missa Gaia: A Celebration of Mother Earth
May 1, 2022
I like when the music happens like this:
Something in His eyes grabs hold of a tambourine in me,
then I turn and lift a violin in someone else, and they turn, and this turning continues;
it has reached you now. Isn’t that something?
(Rumi, Sufi mystic & poet, 13th c.)
I write with a full and grateful heart.
After eleven years, I am conducting my final concert with Cantemus Chamber Chorus. We have shared much, both personally and musically. Passages, transitions, illness, laughter, tears, music, life. A rich tapestry woven into the fabric of our rehearsals and concerts. I congratulate and thank this remarkable group for staying the course with me and for giving me so much in return. It's impossible not to feel the pain of loss lurking just offstage. But it is a moment to reflect upon, and to celebrate the amazing things we have accomplished together.
And today is that day for celebration. Today is the culmination of the chorus’ steady, hard work and commitment. It is pure joy to welcome Paul Winter and the Paul Winter Consort to our stage – to offer a piece that is dear to my musical and spiritual heart. Missa Gaia has accompanied me through much of my adult life, and I am utterly astounded that I am conducting a cherished piece with stunning performers.
Missa Gaia/Earth Mass was commissioned in 1981 by the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, when the Dean of the Cathedral, James Morton, approached Paul Winter and his Consort of players and suggested that they create a unique Mass for the twentieth century. After studying the recordings of Dufay, Machaut, Palestrina, Bach, Stravinsky, Poulenc and Britten, Winter began to imagine a truly contemporary Mass, creating a musical celebration both ecumenical and ecological, one that would “embrace all life on Earth.”
The result? A collaboratively composed, highly structured, jazz-fusion Mass dedicated to Mother Earth, filled with the pre-recorded voices of wolf, whale and loon, along with the talents and joy of human voices and instruments. The work is jubilant, soaring, and moving, bookended by St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Sun,” paired with the glorious and beloved hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth.”
Forty years later, Missa Gaia/Earth Mass is as “contemporary” as ever – reminding us of the sacredness of the ground on which we walk and our environmental responsibility to preserve that ground. The voices of the Greater Newburyport Children’s Chorus strengthen our resolve and bring hope to the future. Our environmental justice and advocacy partners turn hope into action.
Cantemus’ future is very bright. Thank you, each board member, each singer, each audience member, each donor, each supporter, each volunteer, each advertiser, each impassioned partner, each friend.
—Jane Ring Frank, Artistic Director