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Saturday, April 28, 2007

And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass

Eve of Yom Hashoah Day of Holocacaust Remembrance | 28 April, 2007

I do not endorse syncretism in religion, and yet I believe the
prospect of human self -destruction is so enormously self-evident
today that I believe we ought to strive for deeper interfaith

understanding by any means neccessary. For this reason alone, the Chanticleer
Mass (to be released on CD May 8th) is worth noting......

Yr. Obdt. Svt.,

davebuehler |


From Many Faiths, a Mass

Richard Termine for The New York Times

NY Times: April 28, 2007

Contemporary music is often like fusion cuisine, as composers spice up their
scores with unexpected ingredients. So when Chanticleer, the San Francisco-based
male a cappella choir, commissioned five composers of diverse ethnicities,
faiths and compositional leanings each to write a section of a new Mass, it
seemed that the resulting work might offer stimulating contrasts.

But when Chanticleer performed the premiere of “And on Earth, Peace: A
Chanticleer Mass” on Thursday in the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan
Museum, it sounded strangely homogenous. There were noteworthy moments in each
section, but over all this multicultural Mass was underwhelming.

Joseph H. Jennings, the ensemble’s music director, wanted the Mass to have
unity, but it was almost too unified and felt static at times. This was
surprising, given that none of the composers knew what their colleagues were
contributing. Perhaps anticipating greater contrast, Mr. Jennings began and
ended the Mass with plainsong and interspersed the new sections with music by
Gabrieli and Gesualdo, as a sort of anchor.

Tellingly, one of the evening’s most uplifting moments was during the 16th-century composer Gabrieli’s “Deus, Deus, meus, respice in me.”

Chanticleer, an ensemble notable both for its unity and for its distinctly
individual voices, sings beautifully and is always a pleasure to hear, and it sounded divine in Gabrieli’s glorious polyphony.

The American composer Douglas J. Cuomo (who wrote the theme for “Sex and the
City”) contributed the Kyrie. Chanticleer sang “Kyrie eleison” in unison,
then added one note at a time to form shimmering tone clusters, before melting
into plainsong. The work ended with the lower voices singing “Kyrie eleison”
under a striking cluster of higher voices.

Kamran Ince, a Turkish-American composer, set the Gloria to texts by Rumi, a
13th-century Persian poet. Mr. Ince wrote somber, slow-moving and dreamy music
whose calm was occasionally shattered by intense outbursts. The English composer
Ivan Moody, a member of the Greek Orthodox Church, composed the Sanctus, using
gently cascading harmonies on the word “Ossanna.”

The most theatrical contribution was the “Credo/Ani Ma’amin” of the
Israeli-born composer Shulamit Ran. Ms. Ran used lines from Maimonides’ 13
principles of the Jewish faith and texts relating to the Holocaust, read in English over a somber drone, then sung with dramatic intensity.

But the only composer who didn’t seem tentative about showing a little passion
was the Irishman Michael McGlynn, whose appealing “Agnus Dei” began with an
evocative, soaring “A Uain De” (“Lamb of God”) and faded to a whispered
“Dona nobis pacem” at the end.

Chanticleer continues its tour tomorrow and Monday in Virginia, and on Thursday
in Los Angeles. A schedule is available at

(See for release details)

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Fifth Column

In the fall of '64, I was hitch-hiking to Yellow Springs, Ohio, to visit someone at Antioch College, known far and wide as a Mecca of subversion. [ Actually, the Antioch I knew turned out be more of an apolitical home for humanist dropouts, but that is a another tale to tell]. An old farmer let me climb into his Farmall truck and, detecting I was a college student, said "I sure hope you ain't one of them Fifth Columnists. They got them a whole buncha those at that there Anty Yawk! You ain't one of them, is you?"

I laughed and said I was from a small, Lutheran college in Springfield (Wittenberg) so he need not worry about my soul one little bit. Only a few weeks before I was offered the chance to write a column in the Witenberg TORCH newspaper, and so I was in dire need of a title for my column. That old farmer gave me the title and I became the fifth columnist. The person I was hiking to see at Antioch was nowhere to be found, so I struck up a conversation with somebody in the bookstore and he brought me along to visit one of his classes.

I was impressed by the multimedia facilities there, plus the fact that students were allowed to tinker with an EEG machine smack dab in the middle of a small Psych class. Wittenberg was still significantly more "in loco parentis" than Antioch, but not enough to tempt me to transfer South. I suspect this is my fifth entry on've been away since April 15th--so this is my fifth column in a funny, non-subersive sense of that term.

Yr. obdt. svt.,