On Sunday 17 Oct at 12 Noon at Assumption Grotto parish in Detroit there will be a Solemn TLM (Extraordinary Form). The setting of the Mass is by Igor Stravinsky. The undersigned will be celebrant for the Mass.
Assumption Grotto’s annual benefit dinner is on the same day after the Mass. See their site for details.
I am really looking forward to hearing the Stravinsky Mass! Additional music for the Mass will be by J.S. Bach. That’s not a contrast, is it?
During one of my previous visits to Assumption Grotto, the pastor, Fr. Perrone, spoke about the Stravinsky and astonished me by what he told me about it. I had never heard it before and didn’t know that Stravinsky had written a Mass.
He was Orthodox, of course, but he wrote his Mass setting from real piety and not for a commission. Here is a bit of text about the Mass, just to get your head around what he was doing.
So, why did Stravinsky, in 1944, begin work on a liturgical musical form which was alien to his own religious tradition? The answer may be found in his Expositions, where he recounts finding some Masses by Mozart in a second-hand shop in Los Angeles in 1942. He wrote: ‘As I played through these rococo-operatic sweets-of-sin, I knew I had to write a Mass of my own, but a real one‘. By ‘real one’ he may have meant a Roman Catholic one that would allow the use of instruments – Stravinsky wrote that he could ‘…endure unaccompanied singing in only the most harmoniously primitive music’. Like Howells, he eschewed the decorative style and set out to write a work which would be ‘…very cold music, absolutely cold, that will appeal directly to the spirit’. In a conversation with Evelyn Waugh, Stravinsky noted: ‘My Mass was not composed for concert performances but for use in the church. It is liturgical and almost without ornament. In making a musical setting of the Credo, I wished only to preserve the text in a special way. One composes a march to facilitate marching men, so with my Credo I hope to provide an aid to the text. The Credo is the longest movement. There is much to believe’. (source)
I look forward to this occasion at Assumption Grotto.
I urge any of you readers in the area to come and participate! Put it on your calendar.