Black Mass

Black Mass is a composition I wrote back in 2006 as I was finishing grad school.  It is for a large wind ensemble and 5-octave handbell choir.

The concept of the work is not a Satanic black mass, but rather a metaphor for anything negative in our lives.  The piece starts off solemn, full of bad news.  It moves towards anger.  Then it becomes solemn and chant-like.  Again, the anger return, this time with violent fireworks that break into a dance of mocking.  Finally, after a huge cluster cord, D major breaks through with peace and acceptance.

I’ve kept this piece, for whatever reason, somewhat hidden.  Perhaps, it is due to the inclusion of the old hymn “Ein Feste Burg” at the end.  I am not religious or spiritual by any means, and this work does have spiritual implications.  Perhaps, there’s also the fear of blacklash from people who are spiritual who could see the term “Black Mass” as evil and unholy.  For better or worse, I leave it here as an example of one of the most complex works I’ve ever written.

Instrumentation

  • Flutes 1 and 2
  • Alto Flute = Flute 3 = Piccolo
  • Bass Flute = Flute 4
  • 2 Oboes
  • English Horn
  • Bass Oboe
  • E-flat Clarinet
  • B-flat Clarinets 1-4
  • Bass Clarinet
  • Contra-Alto Clarinet
  • Contrabass Clarinet
  • Soprano Saxophone
  • Alto Saxophones 1 & 2
  • Tenor Saxophone
  • Baritone Saxophone
  • Bass Saxophone
  • Tenor Bassoon
  • Bassoons 1 & 2
  • Contrabassoon
  • Horns 1-6
  • Piccolo Trumpet
  • C Trumpet 1 = D Trumpet
  • C Trumpets 2 & 3
  • Tenor Trombones 1-3
  • Bass Trombone
  • Euphoniums 1 & 2
  • Tubas 1 & 2
  • Timpani
  • Xylophone = Crotales = Tom-Toms
  • Marimbas 1 & 2
  • Vibraphone
  • Chimes = Anvil/Break Drum
  • Percussion 1-3
    • 4 Tam-Tams, 4 Suspended Cymbals, Bass Drum, Tenor Drum, Wood Block, Bullroarer, Temple Blocks, Large Chains, Claves, Guiro, Bass Pans (Steel Drums)
  • 5-Octave Handbell Choir
  • Piano

Finale MIDI performance (note, all non-pitched percussion has been turned off)

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