The Oakland Symphony Chorus, accompanied by a 24-piece chamber subset of the Oakland Symphony, will premiere Mass for Freedom this Saturday, April 13, at 8:00pm at the First Congregational Church of Oakland.
Last chance for advance tickets!
Meanwhile, please enjoy this very cool sneak-peek video the Symphony made to promote the show. It features rehearsal footage, interviews with me and Lynne, and me being unprepared when the videographer asked me to sing and play part of the Mass at the piano. (Fun fact: the videographer is also the director of the Oakland Youth Symphony, Omid Zoufonoun.)
Lynne got the orchestra up to speed amazingly quickly. The question marks mainly had to do with how I had written the percussion—the one part that's difficult to render accurately on notation software—and how it was gelling with the orchestral instruments to get the groove-based style I'm going for (not something a classical orchestra does every day). I spent the breaks huddling with our two awesome percussionists, Ward and Stan, asking them to try different things—which gave me flashbacks to working on my opera, Lotus. In both cases, I realized pretty quickly that the percussion would be key to making the whole thing work. Back then I also spent most of rehearsal time picking on the drummers, and was ever so glad I did!
As I stood there listening to the orchestra practically nail its first run-through, I was reminded that the Mass is not only my biggest choral commission to date, but also my first-ever commission to compose for orchestra. That has been a really exciting part of the process. Knowing how infrequently most composers have the opportunity to write for a professional orchestra, I'm really savoring every moment.
Meanwhile, the chorus has come a long, long way. This piece has been a big challenge for them (I know because many of the singers have been eager to tell me how much trouble it's given them), and at rehearsal last night, I could palpably feel them going from reading notes to making music. Suddenly the spirit of the piece was there in spades.
Tomorrow night is the dress rehearsal, and I know I'm going to hear that spirit flowing from chorus to orchestra and back again, bouncing all around the room.
Hope to see you on Saturday.