Scottish premiere of new plainsong Mass setting

Roxanna Panufnik

Roxanna Panufnik

A new setting of a plainsong Mass is a rarity. Roxanna Panufnik's Schola Missa de Angelis, will be given its third performance – and Scottish  premiere – in Glasgow on 5 March.

Commissioned by the Schola of the London Oratory School, Schola Missa de Angelis is a 20 minute work for mixed choir by Roxanna Panufnik. The work will be  heard this year in Scotland, for the first time, in a brand  new arrangement with string ensemble accompaniment.  It is based on the original plainsong Mass  – the Missa de  Angelis – which has been in use in the Catholic Church  for centuries.
“It’s a major liturgical music milestone,” said Lee Ward, who, as Musical Director of the Schola, first proposed the commission to Roxanna Panufnik. “The composer has retained the plainsong melodies from the original ninth century Mass, bringing the text vividly to life with her own distinctive harmonic palette.”  

The Mass had its world premiere, in its version for choir and brass ensemble, by the Schola last May in London - at which the choir was praised by reviewer Rick Jones for its ‘..tuneful, unforced vigour’ and ‘..unfailingly passionate expressivity’ - and a further performance in Cardiff in last summer.
Director of the Schola Lee Ward is enthusiastic about the Mass’s place in the canon of contemporary Catholic church music; a version for congregation is also available: “The work is very much in line with the desires of Pope Benedict XVI for the future of liturgical celebration,” he said.
“It receives its inspiration from Gregorian chant – a central part of musical liturgical history.  I am very much looking forward to premiering this new version with string
accompaniment in Glasgow – the first time the work will be heard in Scotland.”

The concert also includes music by the leading Scottish composer James MacMillan CBE.  The Schola has a long connection with MacMillan - most recently performing his specially composed Mass of the Blessed John Henry Newman for the Papal visit earlier this year – and is looking forward to working with the composer during this visit to Scotland.   

The concert takes place on Saturday 5 March, 7.30pm in Saint Aloysius Church, 25 Rose Street, Glasgow G3 6RE.Admission Free (retiring collection).

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