Performed by the Bowling Green State University Collegiate Chorale with Jesse Koza, baritone; Mary Kathryn Brewer, soprano; Kelsi Milam, flute; Rena Vacha, oboe; Andrew Martin Smith, clarinet; Jeff Dunford, horn and Jamie Leigh Sampson, bassoon.
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Missa ad honorem Sancti Francisci for SATB choir, soloists and woodwind quintet is in the five standard movements of the Catholic Mass: Kyrie, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei. The composition honors St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals and ecology. The cantus firmus comes from the Introit sung for the feast day of St. Francis on October 4th of each year in the Catholic church. It is presented in its original form in the opening of the Kyrie, and is expanded and developed contrapuntally throughout the movement. The Gloria moves away from the open tonalities and plainchant style of the Kyrie into more polyphonic and harmonically complex sections. Both the Gloria and the Sanctus feature vocal soloists, who sing fragments from the English texts of The Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and the Canticle of the Sun (authored by St. Francis) while the choir sings the Latin texts of the Mass. The Credo is a microcosm of the entire piece, with a simple beginning and end and a complex middle section. It uses sotto voce and spoken word as text painting effects. The Sanctus breaks from a somber opening into a joyous, boisterous statement at the “Hosanna.” The Agnus Dei is a mirror image of the Kyrie. It opens with polyphony of line and color, and slowly thins into a monophonic chant texture. The mass draws on many influences, both contemporary and medieval. It is a fusion of old and new. My goal is twofold: to glorify a higher power through honoring St. Francis and his ideals of love and peace, and to serve these ancient texts that have provided prayer and song to so many others throughout history.