New Millennium Mass Encores
at St. Dominic's Church on June 2nd & 3rd
May 2001, San Francisco, CA
The New Millennium Mass, an ambitious new work by composer Dmitri Matheny in collaboration with Ted Hall, will be performed at St. Dominic’s Church in San Francisco (2390 Bush Street at Steiner) on June 2 and 3, 2001 at 5:30 PM. First performed on December 31, 1999, at the stroke of midnight, the New Millennium Mass was enthusiastically received as a serious new work that draws on jazz, gospel, and world music while embracing classic liturgical traditions. This encore performance will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost.
The performances and services are free to the public and begin at 5:30 PM.
Written for organ, vocal soloist, choir, brass sextet, and percussion, the work will be conducted by Dr. David Schofield and composer Dmitri Matheny will perform on the flugel horn. An all-star group of musicians will be performing, including jazz vocalist Clairdee, accomplished studio drummer Curt Moore, the San Francisco Brass Company, and the St. Dominic’s Choir. The New Millennium Mass is a complete liturgical work of sixteen movements.
The Mass will be celebrated by St. Dominic’s pastor, Father Xavier Lavagetto, O.P.
St. Dominic’s Church, considered one of the most significant examples of neo-gothic church architecture in the western United States, provides a powerful setting for this celebration of the two thousand years since Christ’s birth. Repaired and restored following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the beautiful structure features unusual acoustics because of its soaring ceilings and faux stone construction.
The performance will be recorded live for a CD to be released later this year. Accomplished classical music producer, Lolly Lewis, and Grammy-award winning recording engineer, Phil Edwards, are heading the technical team. "This church has a very special character. The music and the acoustics will provide an experience reminiscent of the liturgical recordings by Duke Ellington that helped inspire us to undertake this project," said Ted Hall.
Matheny, an accomplished flugel horn player and well-known recording artist on Monarch Records, has composed many works for jazz ensemble, including performances featuring his work at Carnegie Hall. However, this is his most ambitious composition to date and his first sacred work. "I was inspired by the idea that the dawn of the new millennium should be greeted with optimism, creativity, and spiritual contemplation, not with the popular recipe of fear and excess," said Matheny.
Drawing on two millennia of liturgical, classical, jazz, and world music traditions, the New Millennium Mass is an artistic expression of hope, embracing all people. The work employs a five-note recurring motif, sometimes set to the phrase "Spiritu Sancto," ("Holy Spirit"). This idee fixe is introduced by the solo female voice at the outset of the Mass and is reiterated twenty seven times throughout the Mass, posing a musical question that is not answered until the final fanfare confirming that the Mass has ended.
The same five-note motif is used to construct a composite scale (based on the B7 and C7 chords) that provides the harmonic structure for the piece. The result is a refreshingly contemporary composition; yet, one can hear the echoes of classic Gregorian chants, the works of Mozart and Haydn and the rhythms and melodies of American jazz, gospel, and world music.
The Processional is an arrangement of French, Welsh and Russian folk melodies for brass quintet that evolves into the jazz quartet foreshadowing the musical motif’s role throughout the work. It concludes with an antiphonal fanfare announcing the beginning of the Mass.
The Kyrie (employing the traditional Greek text) begins with an African motif, suggesting mankind's geographic origins. The African drone evolves to plainchant, then call and response. A highlight of the Mass is the Offertory, which features an original spiritual-influenced melody. The meaning-laden phrase, "I'm Ready", is exchanged between vocalist and choir in swinging, blues-like choruses.
During Communion, an extended instrumental introduction precedes a setting of the "Canticle of St. Francis. " St. Francis of Assisi wrote this ecstatic poem, which has inspired composers from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Sting. The celebratory fanfare as the Mass is ended symbolically announces the arrival of the new millennium. The scintillating, rhythmic Recessional places voices, brass, and both Eastern and Western percussion instruments over an Afro-Cuban organ montuno.
San Francisco businessman, former professional trombonist, and founder of Monarch Records, Ted Hall, collaborated with Matheny in the creation of the Mass. "I began work on this idea nearly thirty years ago, but was never able to complete the work until the coming of the new millennium brought fresh inspiration. Dmitri provided the creative engine to accomplish this hugely challenging task while I created an artistic framework and contributed lyrics and musical ideas."
Dr. David Schofield, Director of St. Dominic’s Church, will conduct the Mass. An accomplished organist, he was most recently Director of music at Church of Notre Dame and chaplain’s organist at Columbia University in New York City. Dr. Schofield was also artistic Director of The Sacred Concerts at Columbia University.
Recording artist Clairdee’s lush voice and her versatility make her well suited to the role as the lead vocalist for the New Millennium Mass. A consummate performer in both concert halls and night clubs, her diverse repertoire and styling have made her the perfect choice to open for groups as diverse as the Count Basie Orchestra, Gladys Knight, Johnny Mathis, Dionne Warwick and Bobby Blue Bland. A former educator, Clairdee has been active with the San Francisco Symphony’s Adventures in Music (AIM) series designed for fourth and fifth graders’ music experience.
The San Francisco Brass Company was formed in 1998. Members have performed with the San Francisco Symphony, San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Ballet, San Jose Symphony, and Orchestra del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino (Italy) under such distinguished batons as Michael Tilson Thomas and Zubin Mehta. The members also hold principal positions with several Bay Area regional orchestras. This highly accomplished ensemble has performed a wide variety of repertoire ranging from Renaissance and Baroque music to contemporary arrangements of jazz and musicals. The quintet features Kales Cumings and Scott Macomber on trumpet, Bruce Chrisp on tenor trombone, Zachary Limacher on french horn, and Steve Trapani on bass trombone.
St. Dominic’s Church has played an important part in the history of San Francisco and its parishioners come from many parts of the city and from all walks of life. Founded in 1873, the church is served by the Dominican order and is home to the Shrine of St. Jude. Fr. Xavier Lavagetto, pastor at St. Dominic’s, said, "This is a wonderful gift to our parish and our community. Thanks to the inspiration of Dmitri and Ted, and the support of my predecessor, Fr. Roberto Corral, we greet the new millennium at Pentecost united in a celebration of the fullness of life."
The Mass is dedicated to the memory of Timothy Walter Francis Hall, the late son of Ted and Laddie Hall. Timothy, a graduate of St. Dominic’s religious education program and a talented student and pianist, died four years ago at the age of thirteen.
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Matheny, 35, is a graduate of the prestigious Berklee School of Music in Boston and has recently returned to his residence in the East Bay following his second full season of touring across the United States and Europe.
Ted Hall, 52, spent 27 years with McKinsey & Company, the international management consulting firm and is now Chairman of Tambourine, Inc., a specialty music production and distribution company. He resides with his wife, Laddie, in the Napa Valley where they make fine wine and olive oil at Long Meadow Ranch.
The live recording of the encore performance of the New Millennium Mass will appear on compact disc from Matheny Music in 2002 and will be available at St. Dominic’s Church and from www.mathenymusic.com.
For further information about services at St. Dominic’s Church, call 415-567-7824.
Photos of the artists available upon request.
Contact: Monty J. Sander