Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Mass enjoyment

Music remains fresh and vibrant as long as it continues to be presented for public appreciation.

To that end, I'm delighted to learn that Guaraldi's Jazz Mass will be presented again this weekend: 6 to 7:15 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral, 35 S. Franklin Street, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania 18701 (570-825-6653).

The service will be hosted by Bill Carter and the Presbybop Quartet. The musicians will include Carter (piano), Mike Carbone (flute), Joe Michaels (bass) and Tyler Dempsey (drums), along with the St. Stephen's choir, under the direction of Mark Laubach.

Regular readers of this blog will recall that Carter was involved with both of the 50th anniversary presentations of Guaraldi's Mass, which took place during the late summer of 2015. Plenty of further details about those events can be found here and here.

Pennsylvania residents -- and anybody close enough to participate —- are encouraged to join Carter and Presbybop, as they present  Guaraldi's Jazz Mass in this extraordinary setting. Written six months before his soundtrack for A Charlie Brown Christmas, the Mass is a highly melodic composition, and the first jazz mass ever performed as part of an American church service.

It debuted May 21, 1965, at San Francisco's Grace Cathedral. The music was recorded, but never written down. To mark the Mass' aforementioned 50th anniversary, Carter transcribed the music from original and unreleased recordings.

He remains just as excited today, as he was three years ago.

"We're looking forward to presenting Guaraldi's little-known Mass once again, in a worship setting," he said. "The invitation came from internationally known organist and church musician Mark Laubach. His parish is celebrating its 200th anniversary, and the church council wanted to do something unusual. So the church choir will sing 'Missa Marialis' from the old red Episcopalian hymnal, and Presbybop will supply Guaraldi's accompaniment.

"As I've been working through the material once again, I'm struck anew by its brilliance. Guaraldi's settings are quite melodic, and the harmonies are beguiling. The outstanding St. Stephen's choir is thrilled to sing this wonderful music, and I'm reminded of how important it is to keep this music in the air. 

"What a privilege this is!"

This is a rare opportunity to hear Guaraldi's composition in a worship setting similar to that where it first was conceived. All involved are pleased to offer this event during the 200th anniversary year of St. Stephen's.

For additional information, visit Presbybop or St. Stephen's Episcopal Pro-Cathedral.

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