FAQs

What is the COVID policy for the concert?

The concert is open to all regardless of vaccination status and the wearing of masks is optional. 

What can you tell me about The Mass in Blue?

The composer, Will Todd, is from a small county in England (Durham) where he sang in a church choir from an early age and became familiar with many settings of the Mass from Palestrina to Howells.  He studied music at the University of Bristol and established himself as a composer in the classical tradition with a number of works, including his oratorio St. Cuthbert and his prize-winning opera, The Blackened Man.

 He confesses to having lived something of a double life as a musician.  On the one hand he was steeped in classical music and the demanding discipline of singing or playing the notes that are written.  But in his leisure time he also loved to improvise on the piano and to play jazz with friends.  The suggestion that he write a setting of the Mass in a jazz idiom came from David Temple, conductor of the Hertfordshire Chorus, who had previously commissioned one of Todd’s oratorios but knew of his other life as a jazz musician.

Despite being uncertain whether he could blend such different musical forms successfully, Will Todd took on this novel commission and wrote what was originally called his “Jazz Mass”.  This was given its first performance in Cambridge in 2003 by the Hertfordshire Chorus.  The composer himself played the piano and his wife Bethany sang the demanding part for solo soprano.

The Mass in Blue, as it came to be called, was an immediate success with choirs and audiences alike. It has been given hundreds of performances in England and is becoming an established part of the choral repertoire.

The secret of its success lies in its fidelity to two very different musical traditions: that of the sung Mass, one of the oldest forms of European music whose evolution indeed coincides with the development of classical music as we know it: and that of the Blues, a distinct form of African American music that came into prominence in the nineteenth century and paved the way for jazz.

Will Todd’s Mass keeps to the traditional text.  His only significant departure is right at the end, where the words ‘Dona nobis pacem’ (‘Grant us peace’) invite a quiet conclusion, more resignation than triumph.  He departs from custom by returning to the Credo where the words affirm belief in the resurrection of the dead and the life everlasting. This provides a satisfying conclusion without making the music go against the meaning of the words.

Many of the blues features of the Mass in Blue, such as its syncopation and the virtuosic improvisatory singing of the solo soprano, are very familiar and need no explanation.  Less obvious is that blues music tends to use a different scale from classical music.  Classical music has major and minor keys each with seven notes whereas blues music tends to be based on a simpler five-note (‘pentatonic’) scale. This five-note scale, interestingly, is also found in much traditional folk music of the British Isles, North America and elsewhere.

It is easy to produce a pentatonic scale, or a tune based on one by playing only the black notes on a piano. The untrained eye can see the obvious gaps in such a  scale (between the groups of two and three notes) which give a distinctive sound to melodies based on it.

Can I hear a movement of the Mass?

Click "Gloria" from Mass in Blue  to hear the “Gloria” movement.  It is a little over 4 minutes long.  Click "Agnus Dei" from Mass in Blue  to hear the final movement.  It is 9 minutes long.

Waht can you tell me about the soprano soloist?

Please go to https://www.kathrynradakovich.com/.  Also, click here to view a YouTube video of Ms. Radakovich performing the Mass in Blue with Ars Nova.

What can you tell me about the jazz quartet accompanying the choir?

The Choristers is privileged to be accompanied by some of the best jazzers in the Philadelphia area.  Go to Terry KlinefelterRon Kerber, and Dan Monaghan for more  information.

What are the additional works being performed?

The Mass in Blue will be the second half of the concert.  The first half will be:

 

I’ll Fly Away

Arr. Michael Hassell

It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)

Arr. Mac Huff

I Love You For Sentimental Reasons

Arr. Paul Langford

It Had to Be You & You Made Me Love You

Arr. Adam & Matt Podd

I’m So Glad

Arr. Michael Hassell

West Side Story Choral Suite – Mvt. 3: “I Feel Pretty”, “Cool” and “America”

Arr. Mac Huff

How long will the concert last?

The concert will last approximately 1 hour and 50 minutes.  This includes a 15-minute intermission.

What are the ticket prices?

Adult is $25 in advance and $30 at the door.  Senior Citizen (fixed income or 65 and above; whichever applies) is $20 in advance and $25 at the door.  College and High School Students are $5 in advance and $10 at the door.  Children under high school age are admitted free.

Is there a discount for groups?

Unfortunately no.  With dwindling governmental and corporate support for the arts, the choir does not have the fiscal ability to offer group discounts for the concert.

How do I get advanced ticket sales?

If you want to order tickets online, click here.  If you want to order tickets without giving your credit card information, please e-mail the choir at Info@TheChoristers.org providing your name and telephone number.  The choir's Treasurer will contact you.  Another option is to call 215-542-7871.

Is there any reserved seating?

No.  Seating is general admission.  

Is the performance space handicapped accessible?

Yes.  There are no steps between the parking area and the sanctuary of Trinity Lutheran Church.  If wheelchair seating is needed, please contact the choir at Info@TheChoristers.org so it can be arranged.  Parts of the sanctuary have moveable chairs.  The choir will create the space for wheelchair seating.

Directions?

For directions to Trinity Lutheran Church in Lansdale, click here.