And on Earth, Peace: A Chanticleer Mass

Chanticleer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Thursday, April 26.

When I bought tickets to this concert some nine months ago, I had no idea what the program would be, and I didn’t care. I would listen to Chanticleer sing anything—nursery rhymes, 1980s power ballads, “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas—anything at all. The choir’s flawless tone, impeccable precision, and ravishing musicality make virtually anything worth listening to, and the ensemble has the dramatically varied repertory—everything from Renaissance music to gospel music to challenging new music—to prove it.

As it turns out, Chanticleer debuted a new work: a mass with each of the five movements created by a different contemporary composer from a different cultural background. American composer Douglas Cuomo wrote the Kyrie; Turkish-American Kamran Ince wrote the Gloria using a Sufi text; Israeli-born Shulamit Ran wrote the Credo using a Hebrew text; Ivan Moody wrote the Sanctus in the Greek-Orthodox tradition; and the Irish Michael McGlynn wrote the Agnus Dei infused with folk elements.

Each movement was sung a capella, but beyond that they differed considerably, yet paradoxically they still hung together rather well as a unified mass. I’m sure it helped that the choir sung short sixteenth-century works by Gabrieli and Gesualdo between the mass’ main movements—lending it some continuity—but beyond that, all the movements possessed a sense of sincerity, of spiritual longing. Each provenance was different, but they seemed to be trying to reach the same place.